Going Into Business for Yourself: 10 Tips to Get Your e-Commerce Store Off the Ground Successfully

Written by
Rebecca Smith

Feb 27, 2019

Feb 27, 2019 • by Rebecca Smith

Last year, e-commerce sales accounted for 11.9% of all retail sales!

The e-commerce industry is growing, and for good reason. It offers savvy entrepreneurs a means of becoming business owners--without renting out a storefront.

Plus, online shopping is rapidly becoming the norm in this digital age. 

If you're keen to launch your e-commerce company, you'll need more than a Shopify account. 

In this post, we discuss some key things you should keep in mind prior to launching your online store!

Keep reading for insight.

1. Know Your Niche

You may already have a product line in mind for your e-commerce company. Perhaps you even know who your suppliers are going to be.

Nonetheless, it's vital to know your market niche before you launch your company. What, specifically, are you offering consumers?

More importantly, why are you offering this? What is the need or demand for this particular product or service?

Identifying your niche often means researching your market and figuring out who your ideal customer is likely to be.

Market research involves far more than merely assessing product demand. Check out this website to learn more.

Even if you already have a vision, remember that specialized is always better. Think about ways that you can make your product line even more unique and catered to a specific customer.

2. Select Suppliers

You may be crafting your own products in-house and selling them online. If so, great!

If you will be relying on suppliers, however, take the time to research who these will be. When it comes to choosing suppliers, quality products are only the first concern.

Suppliers should also demonstrate an ability to have a strong working relationship with retailers. Their fulfillment processes should also be streamlined and easy to integrate with your existing software.

Here's a hint: the more niche your market is, the greater the odds are that your suppliers themselves will be niche. This means that most of them will not be selling on Amazon.

3. Choose Your Platform

Successful e-commerce companies depend upon a reliable virtual storefront. Make sure you choose a platform that suits your company's needs.

Plenty of e-commerce business owners use a platform like Shopify for this purpose. Shopify is great for individuals who want a more "ready-made" platform, with a built-in storefront, web design, and more.

However, it is also possible to integrate virtual storefronts into custom-made sites. 

While platforms like Shopify can get you started, it may be worth it to invest in professional design to ensure an authentic site. Custom really can be better here, especially if it means better functionality!

Remember: your goal when designing your e-commerce site should be to cater to your user. Aim to offer a seamless shopping experience, always.

4. Register Your Business

Just because e-commerce companies are online-based does not mean that they don't need appropriate registration. Select your business name prior to registering, and also choose your business structure.

When it comes to structure, you can register your e-commerce company as an LLC, partnership, sole proprietor, or corporation. In general, for tax purposes, most people start out with an LLC.

There are several ways that you can register your business. You can request paperwork directly from the IRS, or you can hire a business filing service.

5. Craft a Business Plan

Your business plan is like your road map to revenue: it should outline your business structure, intentions, goals, and finances (at the very least).

Take the time to craft your business plan before you launch your website. If you need a template, we recommend this one here.

The heart of your business plan should incorporate your target market (ideal customer) and your financial plan. If you've done some great market research, that should go into your business plan!

Your financial plan should discuss the monetary backbone of your e-commerce company. It should outline existing assets, information about business loans, and anticipated starting expenses.

If writing your business plan feels challenging, that may be because you need to do a little more thinking about your niche and your market. That's okay--a lot of business owners create multiple drafts of their plans.

6. Apply for Appropriate Licenses

You may not need to apply for a business license until your revenue meets a specific threshold. Still, check with your state's laws to make sure, as you may be able to apply prior to launching your business.

Depending on the type of product you are selling, you may have to apply for additional licenses and/or permits. These are often essential for tax purposes.

Visit the Small Business Association's website to learn more.

7. Spend Time With Your Website

By now, you've chosen your digital platform. Yet the real crux of your e-commerce company is your website itself.

If you haven't already claimed a domain and web hosting solution, do so now. Make sure your domain is memorable and concise, and opt for a web hosting solution that enables fast-loading sites.

Think carefully about your site's design. When in doubt, opt for a minimalist design, as these may lead to more conversions.

Present high-quality, comprehensive images of your products. In fact, your entire site should be very image-driven (but not cluttered).

8. Market Early and Often

It's wise to begin marketing your e-commerce company pre-launch. Doing so can cultivate brand awareness and drive traffic upon launch.

For most e-commerce companies, such advertising is strictly digital.

Social media profiles, for example, can drum up interest prior to a company launch--especially Instagram. When building a social media campaign ahead of your launch, however, make sure to have a clear brand image already established.

It's also wise to optimize your web copy for terms your customers are likely to enter into search engines to discover your brand.

Yes, you can do this while designing your site pre-launch! Check out Google's SEO starter guide to learn more.

Lastly, do what you can to advertise with video content. Video marketing is one of the most effective ways to engage with customers, period--and it is cost-effective and simple to implement.

9. Survey Initial Customers

Once you sell your initial products, don't settle back and relax just yet! Savvy entrepreneurs are always seeking out ways to better their businesses.

Survey those initial customers. Capture email addresses upon checkout in order to build a subscriber list, and offer customers incentives for filling out brief product reviews.

This can give you valuable feedback on your store's offerings and help you hone your products accordingly.

It can also pave the way for some serious email marketing campaigns, which should not be underestimated.

10. Reinvest Profit

You may be tempted to pocket the first stack of cash you receive, but not so fast! Do your best to reinvest your profit into your e-commerce company.

Turn it around into a marketing fund, for example. Implement Pay-Per-Click (PPC) advertising to further cultivate brand awareness.

Fund a new product line or product improvement. The more you can cycle your profits back into improving your business in these initial stages, the sooner you'll be expanding to where you want to be.

Your E-Commerce Company

These are just a few essential tips for launching your e-commerce company effectively. 

Are you thinking about taking out a business loan to fund your e-commerce company? Visit this post before you do!