An ecommerce store is a store on the internet where products are bought and sold. Examples of ecommerce stores are eBay, Shopify and Amazon.com. These businesses connect product-seekers with the items they need to improve lives, businesses, and organizations of all varieties.
Start an ecommerce store by following these 10 steps:
Plan your Ecommerce Store
Form your Ecommerce Store into a Legal Entity
Register your Ecommerce Store for Taxes
Open a Business Bank Account & Credit Card
Set up Accounting for your Ecommerce Store
Get the Necessary Permits & Licenses for your Ecommerce Store
Get Ecommerce Store Insurance
Define your Ecommerce Store Brand
Create your Ecommerce Store Website
Set up your Business Phone System
There is more to starting a business than just registering it with the state. We have put together this simple guide to starting your ecommerce store. These steps will ensure that your new business is well planned out, registered properly and legally compliant.
Exploring your options? Check out other small business ideas.
STEP 1: Plan your business
A clear plan is essential for success as an entrepreneur. It will help you map out the specifics of your business and discover some unknowns. A few important topics to consider are:
What are the startup and ongoing costs?
Who is your target market?
How much can you charge customers?
What will you name your business?
Luckily we have done a lot of this research for you.
What are the costs involved in opening an ecommerce store?
This business requires the creation of a website, the use of servers, inventory, relationships with shipping companies, employees and marketing. Building a polished ecommerce store website that is secure enough to permit the safe transmission of bank account and credit card information will cost several thousand dollars. Plan on spending thousands more on marketing to increase the public’s awareness of the ecommerce store. Computers, servers, and inventory will likely cost tens of thousands of dollars. Employing web experts to launch the store will require paying salaries in the range of $30,000 to $50,000 or more.
What are the ongoing expenses for an ecommerce store?
The business requires computers, a high-speed web connection, printers, servers, office supplies, employees, insurance, a space to operate, a space for inventory and marketing. Plan on spending $30,000 to $60,000 per year for website designers, user experience designers, marketing gurus and other professionals. Office administrators who handle clerical duties and customer service will likely make $10 to $15 per hour. The cost of your office and warehouse for inventory will hinge on the economics of your particular location. Budget in at least several thousand dollars to pay for the monthly rent and utilities of these spaces. Budget another $500 to $1,000 each month at a bare minimum for marketing. Plan on spending the same amount for servers, computer-related equipment and office sundries.
Who is the target market?
The target market is those who are looking for specific products that can be purchased and delivered in an affordable manner. Just about everyone is willing to order products online from ecommerce stores. As long as your prices are at or below those of competitors and your delivery times are reasonable, people will consider shopping at your ecommerce store.
How does an ecommerce store make money?
This business makes money by selling goods or services on a website. Customers pay with credit cards, bank accounts, Paypal, Bitcoin or another means. The product is then delivered to the paying customer.
How much can you charge customers?
Customers can be charged anywhere from a couple dollars to thousands of dollars for goods and services purchased on your ecommerce store. The exact cost hinges on the product in question, the supply/demand and competitors’ prices.
How much profit can an ecommerce store make?
The potential for profit ranges from a few thousand dollars per year to billions. Build your ecommerce store into a powerhouse like Amazon.com and your business will rake in billions of dollars per year. However, entrepreneurs should not lose sight of the fact that Amazon.com lost money for years before turning a profit. Be patient, perfect your ecommerce store and your business will eventually make good money.
How can you make your business more profitable?
Sell advertising space on your ecommerce store website. If you have a contract with shipping companies for product deliveries up to a certain monthly/weekly volume but do not reach this limit, consider charging other companies for deliveries with the remaining volume. Consider establishing a members’ rewards club in which repeat customers receive price discounts or faster shipping. This style of offer encourages increased spending on your ecommerce store and further enhances customer loyalty.
What will you name your business?
Choosing the right name is important and challenging. If you don’t already have a name in mind, visit our How to Name a Business guide or get help brainstorming a name with our Ecommerce Store Name Generator
If you operate a sole proprietorship, you might want to operate under a business name other than your own name. Visit our DBA guide to learn more.
When registering a business name, we recommend researching your business name by checking:
Your state’s business records
Federal and state trademark records
Social media platforms
Web domain availability.
It’s very important to secure your domain name before someone else does.
Define your brand
Your brand is what your company stands for, as well as how your business is per
If you already have a logo, you can also add it to a QR code with our Free QR Code Generator. Choose from 13 QR code types to create a code for your business cards and publications, or to help spread awareness for your new website.
How to promote & market an ecommerce store
Promote your ecommerce store on the web through pay-per-click advertising, social media advertising, search engine optimization and traditional outbound ads on TV, radio, newspapers, magazines etc. Ecommerce stores typically sell products to a wide variety of people so try to reach the masses with your marketing efforts.
How to keep customers coming back
Customers flock to ecommerce stores with the lowest prices. Check your competitors’ prices on a regular basis to ensure your prices are competitive. Do not sign a long-term deal with a shipping company. Gauge your shipping company’s performance on a regular basis to determine if a competitor can deliver your items quicker or cheaper. Fast shipping at a low cost will certainly help your ecommerce store retain customers. Yet what matters most is price. Customers will return to an ecommerce store that offers competitive prices.
Create your business website
After defining your brand and creating your logo the next step is to create a website for your business.
While creating a website is an essential step, some may fear that it’s out of their reach because they don’t have any website-building experience. While this may have been a reasonable fear back in 2015, web technology has seen huge advancements in the past few years that makes the lives of small business owners much simpler.
Here are the main reasons why you shouldn’t delay building your website:
All legitimate businesses have websites – full stop. The size or industry of your business does not matter when it comes to getting your business online.
Social media accounts like Facebook pages or LinkedIn business profiles are not a replacement for a business website that you own.
Website builder tools like the GoDaddy Website Builder have made creating a basic website extremely simple. You don’t need to hire a web developer or designer to create a website that you can be proud of.
Using our website building guides, the process will be simple and painless and shouldn’t take you any longer than 2-3 hours to complete.
What happens during a typical day at an ecommerce store?
Ecommerce store activities are centered on transactions. Everything from listing products for sale to altering prices, coordinating deliveries, ordering inventory, writing product descriptions and performing website maintenance is necessary. Employees often meet with one another to develop business strategies, select product offerings and improve the logistics of deliveries. There is also plenty of interaction with the product delivery companies who transport the products to customers.
What are some skills and experiences that will help you build a successful ecommerce store?
A knowledge of web design, marketing, internet security, and computer programming will certainly help an entrepreneur who launches an ecommerce store. The business owner should have a thorough understanding of supply and demand as well as other economic principles. Yet what matters most is expertise with the web. The ecommerce store website must look polished, have an intuitive user experience design and function without flaw.
What is the growth potential for an ecommerce store?
Ecommerce stores are rapidly growing in popularity. People are flocking to the web for purchases rather than shopping in traditional brick-and-mortar outlets. The bottom line is shopping at an ecommerce store is convenient, cheap, and easy. There is no need to pay for gasoline and spend time traveling to and from a traditional brick-and-mortar retail store when one shops online. This is precisely why ecommerce stores will continue to grow across posterity. Start your ecommerce store today and there is the potential for it to evolve into a highly successful business with rapid sales growth.
Not sure if an ecommerce store is right for you? Try our free Business Idea Generator and find your perfect idea.