The COVID-19 pandemic has vastly accelerated the Retail Industries’ shift towards an eCommerce model. This trend has seen the equivalent of five years’ worth of pre-pandemic growth in the US – with similar trends emerging elsewhere in the world. If you are thinking of starting a retail business, strongly consider starting an eCommerce business.
Surprisingly, eCommerce businesses and brick-and-mortar retail shops have less in common than you might imagine. The former requires a very different game plan to get off the ground and some skills that the average entrepreneur might not possess. Keep reading for a step-by-step guide to starting an eCommerce business.
Find a niche
Before jumping into an eCommerce venture, it’s important to figure what market segment you will be targeting, and whether it will provide enough income to sustain your business. In other words, what is your niche? You’ll need to conduct keyword research before starting your eCommerce business to figure out what products people are looking for online but may be having trouble locating. After identifying a few viable targets, you’ll need to make sure you can source the products you aim to sell in a reliable way that will yield a decent profit margin.
Choose a business name and a domain name
The next step in the process is to choose a name for your business. For an eCommerce business, your business’s name should be:
- As short and memorable as possible
- Similar to other businesses in your intended market
- A name that you feel comfortable marketing
It also needs to be available as a domain name. If not, you’ll either need to reconsider your choice or come up with a domain name that works anyway (like an abbreviation of your name). Either way, you should register your chosen domain name immediately.
Incorporate your business
At this point, you will need to decide if you wish to simply register your business name or incorporate it officially. If you will be conducting business in multiple states, or outside of Australia, incorporating is the way to go. Just visit ASIC’s website to find the necessary steps. Then, you’ll need to register for an Australian Business Number (ABN) for the purposes of tracking and paying any taxes associated with your operations. Consult with the ATO for details.
Acquire any necessary licenses
Depending on what you’re going to sell, and where you will base yourself, your eCommerce business may need licensing to legally operate. The good news is that the Australian Government makes this process simple using this website. It walks you through finding out what you need. If any licenses are required, make sure to complete the application process and get them lined up before you proceed.
Build your storefront website
Choose a web host for your eCommerce site and get to work building your storefront. If you’re planning to start small, all-in-one options like Shopify and Wix may be a good place to start. But if you’ve got the right training under your belt, you can also opt for building a website from scratch and hosting it on a private server. In the long run, that will be your most flexible and cost-effective option because it will be easier to modify your site and expand it as you see fit. With the all-in-one options, your ability to make substantive changes is limited.
Investigate eCommerce trends and refine your store
After getting your web store online, you’ll want to take a pause and do some research into eCommerce trends to make sure that your new store delivers what today’s customers want. From offering the right payment options to giving consumers the types of packaging and delivery choices they expect, you should leave no stone unturned in your quest to keep ahead of the competition. Failing to do this will put you at a significant disadvantage from day one.
Design a marketing campaign and launch
At this stage, your eCommerce store is almost ready to launch. The last thing you have to do is to create a marketing strategy for your new business and set it in motion. The good news is that your primary marketing channels will be digital, so you won’t need to spend as much upfront as you would have to with a brick-and-mortar store. Plus, many of the tactics you’ll need to execute are of the do-it-yourself variety. And once you have your marketing started, you should start to see visitors arriving at your new eCommerce site primed to spend coin.
And that’s all there is to it. After getting through all of the steps above you should have an eCommerce business that’s running and making sales.
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