The New Year sparks fresh enthusiasm and motivation in people’s minds to get things done better than ever before. They want to do new things, build new habits, and start new ventures to direct their motivation toward certain goals. If that sounds like your story and you have a knack for selling, you might want to explore the entrepreneurial route and start an e-commerce business in 2023.
Even the statistics tend to create a bright picture of the e-commerce industry in the country. The revenue in the e-commerce market in India is expected to reach US$113.50 billion this year. Pair it up with the expected number of online shoppers of 400-450 million (by 2027) and you can see the opportunity with eyes wide open. The ease of getting into some specific industries like fashion and personal care is yet another attractive element of starting an e-commerce business.
Indeed, lifting an e-commerce business off the ground from scratch is sheer hard work. It also requires creativity to stand out, business acumen, and discipline to move forward in the right direction to put your online store out there. Since it can be a worthwhile journey, it makes sense to first learn the basics of how to start an e-commerce business in India.
We have put together a comprehensive guide to starting an e-commerce business in 2023. It includes the most important tasks and steps you need to take to research, launch, market, and grow a profitable e-commerce business.
How to start an e-commerce business: 5-step guide
- Look at product demands and choose what to sell online
- Research competition and create a business plan
- Set up your online store and add the right payment methods
- Sign up with a shipping partner for last-mile delivery
- Create sales and marketing goals
Let’s get into each of these steps in detail.
Look at product demands and choose what to sell online
Most e-commerce businesses are Direct-to-Consumer (D2C) type. Before you take the step forward to start an e-commerce business, you must know what the target customers want. It all boils down to assessing the demands of different types of products. This is often the most challenging step of building an online business because you need to research different niches, markets, and product categories to zero in on the most suitable product or range of products.
Once you are done with the initial product demand research, you will then need to:
- Look at trending e-commerce products
- Validate your product ideas to know if the chosen product(s) will sell online
- Figure out how to obtain the products – by joining hands with a manufacturer or supplier, or manufacturing the product by yourself if it is feasible
- Select the right model of business – dropshipping, D2C, or Business-to-Business (B2B)
Besides this, you can also plan to take the route of the dropshipping business model and business affiliates to start an online business.
Research competition and create a business plan
You have selected a product, assessed its market potential, and sourced a manufacturer/supplier. But before you invest money in getting things started, it is quite important to thoroughly research the competition in the market. Not knowing what you are up against and how to differentiate your offerings from that of your competitors is one of the core mistakes that can eventually make any business stagnant.
In the end, there will be nothing more frustrating in an online business than seeing your competitors grow while you couldn’t manage even a fraction of their total sales. A detailed competitor analysis can help you understand the strengths and weaknesses of your business idea and how to find a competitive edge.
Once you are done with competitive research, you reach the stage of writing a business plan that will work as a roadmap to bring your business idea and related thoughts together.
Set up your online store and add the right payment methods
This step starts with determining your business or brand name and then selecting the corresponding domain name. Here, the availability of a specific domain name also matters as some other brand might have already picked the name you want to start your business with. You need to be very careful in the brand name selection because of two reasons –
- Once your brand name is known to customers, changing the same can leave them astray.
- There can be legal implications of building a brand on a name that is already taken up by some other organization.
Next to selecting a business name, you also need to represent it visually in the form of a logo. Here, you need to invest time and effort to get a memorable logo designed. Then, it’s time to build your online store using a CMS (Content Management System) or website builder. These days, both free and paid website builders are available with user-friendly features to design an online store.
Your store must include distinct and high-converting product pages, product category pages, and a well-defined checkout for a seamless buying experience for your customers.
Building your e-commerce store doesn’t end here as you also need to ensure that all the popular payment options are available for customers. This is important because you do not know how a customer would want to pay you. The unavailability of the preferred payment option may make you lose potential customers. This is where the right selection of a payment gateway matters a lot.
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- Payment Gateway Comparison: Know How to Make the Right Selection
- Interplay between Payment Gateway Charges and Product Pricing (PG)
Sign up with a shipping partner for last-mile delivery
As you come closer to starting an e-commerce business, you also need to prepare for shipping and fulfilling elements. E-commerce shipping is a key part of the business and covers the point where your customers will finally experience your product. It also represents a significant expense that eventually adds up to the product cost. This is where selecting a renowned, trustworthy shipping partner takes the center stage.
By outsourcing the logistics needs of your business to an external partner, you need not worry about hiring executives to deliver products in every city. Instead, the chosen logistics service provider will do it for you. You can select from Delhivery, Shiprocket, Pickrr, and others based on your business needs.
Depending on the cost of shipping charged by the external service provider in terms of preferred packaging and product weights, you can decide whether to pass the cost to the buyer. It is up to you to free shipping to customers after a certain cart value while bearing the cost of shipping yourself.
Create sales and marketing goals
Once you have your e-commerce store up and running, the job does not end there. In fact, it is the start of your journey as an e-commerce business owner. While managing operations and sourcing products, you also need to keep a track of sales. If you find it difficult to attract customers to buy from your online store, you need to invest both time and effort in setting up business marketing goals.
Indeed, getting your first customer is a milestone worth remembering. But it is also important not to fall into the trap of tweaking your e-commerce store endlessly in pursuit of perfection. To get more people to your store, invest in social media marketing, paid advertising via search engines or third-party platforms, influencer marketing, and more. You can even invest time and money in content marketing to build the organic reach of your brand to customers.
In the end, starting an e-commerce business is all about connecting the dots spread between your business and your customers in a highly competitive environment. That’s partly what makes e-commerce selling both enticing and overwhelming at the same time.
Ready to start an e-commerce store?