General / How to start an ecommerce business: What to consider from day one

How to start an ecommerce business: What to consider from day one

Andy Thorne
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The UK’s growing community of online retailers has earned it the title of the most advanced ecommerce location in Europe. So, what’s involved when you start an ecommerce business?

A jaw-dropping £693billion was spent with the UK’s internet-based sellers in 2019.

Keep in mind that ecommerce revenue will have increased dramatically during the pandemic, and it’s safe to say if you’re planning to start an ecommerce business you are one of many! It’s the perfect way to create a new career, working from home.

This upsurge in interest makes it even more important to know the basics. Especially as the way you start an ecommerce business dictates whether it thrives, survives or flops.

Just to emphasise that point, around 60% of all business start-ups fail, and 20% don’t even make it through their first year of trading.

Factory Pattern has supported countless successful online retailers to launch and grow. Here are our insights on the best ways to start an ecommerce business that’s strong and sustainable.

Setting your stall out

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Market research is a vital step when setting up a new ecommerce store.

This is common sense but worth reiterating. What you want to sell online may be different from what your customers are prepared to buy. You must create a viable range of products, priced correctly to win customers from day one.

Like lots of other steps involved in starting an ecommerce venture, research is vital.

First, decide what niche you are passionate about. Then, use social media and sites like Pinterest and Etsy to see what kind of items are sought after and much discussed. Look for websites that tell you popular online purchases, or which outline the most searched for terms worldwide.

It’s crucial to find reliable suppliers that provide you with guaranteed quantities and a sizeable profit margin. That’s the only way to create positive cash flow and meet your customer expectations. If they are delivering directly it saves you time and money, but if you’re purchasing inventory you need a system that doesn’t tie up all your capital in stock. Plus, a price structure for recouping delivery costs and admin time.

Know your competition

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Conduct a competitor analysis to help create your own robust ecommerce business plan.

With your products sketched out, to start an ecommerce business successfully you must size up your competition. You may need to rethink some of the items you plan to sell if the market is saturated, or consumers can buy that item much cheaper in lots of places.

Make lots of notes about your competitors’ business models and marketing strategies, to create your own robust ecommerce business plan. Hootsuite has a guide on what to include in a competitor analysis.

Building an ecommerce store

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When it’s time to set up your ecommerce store, weigh up your options of hosting platforms and website builders.

In many ways, the most important step in starting an ecommerce business is building a website that works hard. Remember, looks aren’t everything!

To be successful as an online retailer you must have a responsive website that performs well on all browsers and devices. Search Engine Optimisation is a must, which means your site’s architecture and contents should make your products easy to find on Google.

Also, pay attention to the principles of User Experience (UX). Creating strong UX when you start an ecommerce business is the path to good lead conversion rates and therefore buoyant sales.

Making sure your site is well built and dependable means you must choose the best ecommerce hosting platform for your venture, and you! For example, do you feel most comfortable with a Shopify storefront, or are you going it alone and using a website builder like WordPress, with ecommerce plugins like WooCommerce?

Look at reviews of popular ecommerce hosting platforms to help you decide.

Marketing matters hugely

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Make sure you have the right branding strategy in place, including a consistent brand message throughout your website and other channels.

Lack of proper business planning is the main reason start-ups fail. That includes a strategy for promoting products to a clearly defined target audience.

You will hear this referred to as branding – which is not just your logo! It’s what you stand for as an organisation and what unique selling propositions you offer. Your brand must be loud and proud on every page of your website, but especially on product pages. It must also underpin a well-orchestrated marketing campaign.

Start an ecommerce business the easy way

That’s just a quick guide to setting up an online retail venture.

There is an easier and less stressful way to start an ecommerce business. You can get in touch with Factory Pattern! We would be pleased to help you explore your marketplace, establish your brand, and develop a high-performance website.

We also offer ongoing support to analyse UX and SEO, and market your ecommerce business successfully, including optimising opportunities for Pay Per Click advertising.