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Getting Started In eCommerce: What To Look For (Part 1 of 3)

This is part one in a three-part series. You can read part two here or part three here.

There’s no better time than now to start an eCommerce business.

The only problem is that everybody else thinks so, too — so before you sink a lot of money into your online shop, you need to do your homework. This three-part series on getting started in eCommerce is meant to help point you in the right direction so your dreams easily take flight. In part one, we’ll discuss what to look for when planning an eCommerce business.

Introduction to Online Business

Running an online business isn’t like any brick-and-mortar business you’ve owned.

The web is filled with millions of different websites, all competing for attention. There’s no easy way to kickstart your particular company — it takes a great deal more than your building it to make them come. But, if you start with the right foundation, you’ll go far.

A business’s concept and target market make up its foundation and ensuring you’ve chosen the right ones means extra legwork for you. Determining if a market is saturated is difficult, but you can often tell by simply asking people interested in similar products online. If forum and social media users admit that they can’t find a suitable place on the web to meet their demand, your concept is probably sound. Those people needing a thing that doesn’t exist are your market — learn as much as you can about them now.

Developing a Niche Can Increase Success

eCommerce niches form quickly as businesses find that they simply can’t service everyone without expanding exponentially.

Shops that might have once sold a range of products are trying to narrow their focus, you would do well to do the same. Instead of selling every type of bicycle and their necessary accessories, focusing on off-road bikers means you’ll be able to mold your online store into the premier one stop shop for that niche. Ultimately, this choice will make your eCommerce order management easier and allow you to expand at a controlled rate.

With a niche defined, you can start looking for suppliers, perform market surveys on your target market and even start to determine what sort of warehousing and fulfillment services you may need. You can’t do everything yourself, there’s simply too much involved in online order fulfillment.

This is also a great time to contact your municipality to determine what sort of business licenses and permits you’ll need. If you don’t plan to ever see merchandise, those requirements are likely to be very minimal, but get them out of the way before you go any further. Also spend your pre-launch time considering who you’ll need to partner with in order to succeed. Most small eCommerce businesses can benefit from a relationship with a 3rd party logistics company (3PL) , as well as an accountant.

In part two of this three-part series, we’ll discuss what you’ll need to get up and running fast. After all, that’s the goal, right? More customers, less wasted time and increased profits are good for everyone.

March 01, 2016
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