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How to Start an E-Commerce Business in 2024 (Step-by-Step)

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Starting your own e-commerce business can be an exciting venture, especially if you’ve always dreamed of owning an online business and being your own boss. If you are a creative guru or have a knack for selling, becoming an entrepreneur could be a great choice for you.

With the number of online shoppers increasing year after year, it’s no surprise that more and more individuals are venturing into e-commerce. The global e-commerce market is also growing at a rapid rate and is expected to reach a value of $5.4 trillion by 2026; there’s never been a better time to start your online store than now.

If you’re new to e-commerce, it can be overwhelming to know where to begin. That’s why I’ve written this step-by-step guide on how to start your e-commerce business in 2024.

I’ll walk you through everything you need to know to get started, from choosing a niche to building your website to marketing your products or services. By the end of this guide, you’ll have a solid understanding of how to start and run a successful e-commerce business.

So, if you’re ready to turn your dream of starting your own business into a reality, let’s get started!

What Is E-commerce?

WHAT IS E-COMMERCE
WHAT IS E-COMMERCE

E-commerce (electronic commerce) is the process of buying and selling goods and services over the Internet. It involves conducting commercial transactions through websites, mobile apps, or other online marketplaces.

E-commerce is one of the fastest-growing industries in the world, and it has revolutionized the way people shop due to its convenience and accessibility. It also enables businesses to reach a global audience, streamline operations, and provide consumers with convenient online shopping experiences.

Why You Should Start An E-Commerce Business IN 2024?

E-commerce is thriving and growing—and it’s not too late to be part of it. Here are some awesome reasons why you should consider launching an e-commerce business today.

  • Global reach: With an e-commerce business, you can sell your products and services to customers all over the world. This is a huge advantage over traditional brick-and-mortar businesses, which are limited to selling to customers in their local area.
  • Low overhead costs: These businesses typically have lower overhead costs than traditional brick-and-mortar businesses. This is because you don’t need to pay for rent, utilities, or other expenses associated with maintaining a physical store.
  • Flexible work schedule: With this type of online business, you can set your hours and work from anywhere in the world. This gives you the flexibility to create a work schedule that fits your lifestyle.
  • Be your boss: When you start an e-commerce business, you are your own boss. This means that you have the freedom to make your own decisions and choose your direction.
  • Potential for high earnings: E-commerce businesses have the potential to be very profitable. Many successful online businesses generate millions of dollars in revenue each year.

7 Easy Steps for Starting An E-commerce Business

E-COMMERCE BUSINESS
E-COMMERCE BUSINESS

Step 1: Finding Your Niche

The first step to starting your e-commerce business is finding your niche, which means deciding what specific products you want to sell. Think about things you’re passionate about or have some knowledge of. It could be anything from trendy jewelry to organic pet supplies, look for something you think people would want to buy. 

This way, you can stand out from the crowd and attract customers who are interested in what you have to offer. Follow these tips when choosing a niche;

Identifying Your Passion:

The first step in finding your niche is to identify your passion. What are you passionate about? What do you love to talk about and learn about? It’s important to choose a niche that you are truly interested in, as this will make it easier to stay motivated and focused.

Market Research:

Once you have a list of potential niches, it’s time to do some market research. This involves gathering information about the market, such as the size of the market, the level of competition, and the growth potential. You can use some research tools like Google Trends or Facebook Analytics data for similar products to what you plan on selling and for similar demographics of your target audience. 

Selecting Your Niche:

Once you’ve conducted your market research, it’s time to decide on a niche. Consider all of the factors you have learned about, such as your passion, the demand for products or services, the level of competition, and the growth potential. Choose a niche you are confident in and that you believe has the potential to be profitable.

Step 2: Choosing the Right E-commerce Model

Choosing and applying the right e-commerce model may seem like a daunting task, especially if you are new to the e-commerce industry. Your greatest chance of success starts with knowing which business model best fits your target niche, resources, and capabilities. 

There are several types of e-commerce business models to choose from, and today it’s easier than ever for creative founders to use them to make their ideas a reality. We’ll be listing some of these business models, alongside their pros and cons, to assist you in your research.

1. marketplace model

Online marketplaces eCommerce model connect online sellers and buyers. Nowadays this business model is widely-spread among either investors or retailers who look for additional sales channels like Amazon, Ebay, Walmart etc. Shopping on marketplaces is also highly popular among online users who choose marketplaces due to their vast range of products and services and the possibility to compare and pick the best options.

Pros
  • Access to enormous customer base.
  • Product visibility.
  • Customer service and returns are handled by marketplace.
  • Streamlined fulfillment processes.
Cons
  • High competition on the platform.
  • Stricter guidelines and potential account suspensions.
  • Fees can eat into your profit margins.
  • Less control over your brand and customer relationships.

2. Dropshipping Model

Dropshipping is an eCommerce model where a store sells products without holding inventory. When a customer orders, the store buys the item from a third-party supplier that ships it directly to the buyer. With dropshipping, the seller does not handle the product directly but instead uses a third party to source and store products, and ship orders directly to customers.

Pros 
  • Low startup costs
  • Easy to start and manage
  • Wide selection of products to sell
Cons 
  • Lower profit margins
  • Less control over customer experience
  • More competition

3. Connective E-Commerce

This is a business model that allows newcomers to put up an online store without investing in web developers, inventory management, and paid ads. Instead, you create your website using a templated eCommerce platform like Shopify, Magento, or WooCommerce

This is done in place of investing in a traditional web developer. You then promote the business and acquire customers through free channels, including Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or TikTok. When a customer makes a purchase, you transfer the order to a supplier, who then ships the products directly to the customer. 

Pros:
  • It’s cheap and easy to set up
  • No need to buy, make, or ship physical inventory yourself
  • You can choose and test-sell a variety of popular products
Cons:
  • It’s easy to be outrun by competitors with larger budgets
  • You have to find creative solutions to last long-term in competitive markets
  • You must rely on third-party companies and suppliers for product deliveries, product quality, stock levels, and wholesale price points.

4. Wholesaling

This is a business-to-business (B2B e-commerce) model where, instead of selling your products individually to consumers, you sell them in bulk and at a discount to other businesses — you act as the intermediary between the manufacturer and the distributor or retailer.

Pros
  • High order volume
  • Higher profit margins
  • More stable demand
Cons 
  • Higher startup costs
  • More complex operations
  • Less customer interaction 

5. Manufacturing/Producing

This involves producing your own goods and selling them directly to customers through online e-commerce platforms. It is a great business model for people with a unique product idea, and also for those who’ve already validated the market for their product. 

Pros
  • Higher Profit Margins
  • Control over Product Quality
  • Unique brand identity
Cons
  • High startup costs
  • Complex Supply Chain Management
  • Time-consuming

6. Print-On-Demand (POD)

This is an e-commerce business model where products (t-shirts, mugs, posters, etc.) are printed or created only after an order is received. When a customer places an order, your POD supplier prints and ships the product directly to the customer. This eliminates the need for inventory management and upfront costs. 

Pros
  • Lower upfront cost.
  • Wide range of customizable products
  • Easy to start and manage
Cons
  • Low profit margins
  • Limited control over production and quality
  • Order fulfillment takes longer

Step 3: Setting Up Your E-commerce Website

Now that you’ve chosen a business model for your e-commerce business, it’s time to start looking into creating your e-commerce website. As an online business, your website will serve as your storefront, so it’s important to get it right.

Picking a Domain Name:

Your domain name acts as your website’s address, and it’s important to choose a name that’s memorable and relevant to your business and the products you sell. Make sure it’s memorable and easy to type, and ideally includes keywords related to your niche. This will make it easier for customers to find and remember your site. 

Choosing a Hosting Provider:

It’s essential to opt for a reliable hosting service that offers good uptime (the time your website is accessible to visitors) and excellent customer support. Consider factors such as server speed, security, and scalability to ensure your website can handle increasing traffic as your business grows and lastly if a hosted or self hosted platforms is appropraite for your busines base on your availlable resources.

Setting up a CMS:

A Content Management System (CMS) is the software that builds and manages your website, without you writing any code. Popular CMS options like Shopify, BigCommerce, Volusion, Adobe Commerce, Salesforce Commerce Cloud, WooCommerce, etc. offer easy-to-use interfaces and a variety of customizable features that make your online store look professional. 

Customizing Your Website:

This involves selecting a visually appealing theme that resonates with your brand and the products you sell. Customize the site’s appearance by adding your logo, choosing appropriate color schemes, and organizing your product categories. 

Additionally, offering a variety of payment options will lead more of your customers to complete their purchases. Popular payment gateways include PayPal, Stripe, and others, which enable you to accept various forms of online payments, such as credit cards and digital wallets.

Taking these steps will help you establish a strong online presence and create a user-friendly e-commerce website that attracts and engages customers, ultimately driving sales and growing your business.

Step 4: Product Sourcing and Management

After creating your e-commerce website, the next step is to source for the products you’re going to sell. This involves finding reliable suppliers, manufacturers, or distributors who can supply the products you want to feature on your online store. 

Product Sourcing:

Product sourcing is the process of finding and acquiring products from reputable suppliers to sell to customers at competitive prices. This involves researching, evaluating, and negotiating with suppliers, as well as managing the quality, delivery, and costs of the products. Common product sourcing methods include manufacturing your products, sourcing from a supplier, purchasing third-party goods from a wholesale supplier, etc.

Inventory Management:

If you want to build a successful and sustainable e-commerce store, you need to know all about inventory management. This is the process of tracking your inventory and ensuring that you have the right products, in the right quantities to meet your customers’ demand. Inventory management helps keep your inventory levels in check, reduce inventory costs, prevent stock-outs, and ensure timely order fulfillment to buyers.

Step 5: Attracting and Retaining Customers

Once you have your e-commerce website up and running, it’s time to start putting your brand out there for prospective customers. This is one of the top goals of any business, especially in the competitive eCommerce business. Here are some of our top tips for attracting customers to your online store.

Digital Marketing:

Digital marketing involves the use of various online channels such as email marketing, social media, search engines, display advertising, etc. to increase your website’s visibility, attract potential customers, encourage them to make purchases and keep them coming back.

SEO:

One of the most effective ways of driving traffic to any website is through SEO (Search Engine Optimization), and e-commerce stores are no different. The higher you rank in search results for relevant search terms, the more traffic you’ll be able to attract to your online store. These are some of the best ways to boost the SEO of your website: keyword optimization, building backlinks, creating high-quality and relevant blog content, fast load speed, etc.

Try Tech With Gbenga Free SEO Tools

Customer Engagement:

This is the relationship between a brand and its customer base, which helps to foster brand loyalty and awareness. It involves actively interacting with your audience, providing valuable and relevant content, responding to customer inquiries and feedback promptly, and offering exceptional customer service. 

Customer engagement can lead to increased customer satisfaction, positive word-of-mouth marketing, and ultimately, repeat business and customer retention.

Step 6: Scaling for Growth

As an e-commerce business owner, understanding how to scale for growth is essential to stay ahead of the competition. Scaling involves more than simply growing your business—it’s about improving your efficiency and streamlining your operations to ensure the long-term success of your brand. 

Here are some tips to get you started;

Expand your Product Line:

One way to scale your e-commerce business is by expanding your product line. This involves adding new products within your existing niche or expanding into new/similar niches. For instance, an e-commerce store that sells women’s clothing could expand its product line by adding new categories such as shoes, accessories, home goods, etc. By doing this, you can attract new customers, while also increasing sales from existing customers. 

New Market Entry:

Whether you’re a budding entrepreneur or an established e-commerce business owner, expanding your reach to different geographical regions and demographics can position your business for international success. By expanding into new markets, businesses can reach a wider audience, and also diversify their customer base.

Invest in Marketing:

As your e-commerce business grows, it is important to allocate resources to your marketing efforts to maintain your growth trajectory. This will help you attract new customers, promote your products, and also increase brand awareness. Some proven marketing strategies for e-commerce businesses include SEO, PPC (Pay-Per-Click), Email marketing, Influencer marketing, and much more.

RELATED: DIGITAL MARKETING: ULTIMATE GUIDE IN 2024

Step 7: Ensuring Long-Term Success

This involves building a sustainable online business that can continue to grow and thrive over time. It entails more than just generating sales in the short term. You need to focus on building a strong brand, staying up-to-date with the latest trends, and also develop a loyal customer base.

Build a strong brand:

Your brand is what sets you apart from your competitors. Create a unique brand identity that resonates with your target audience and communicates your brand message consistently across all marketing and advertising channels. 

The e-commerce industry is constantly evolving, so it’s important to stay up-to-date on the latest trends and news. This will help you make informed decisions about your business and stay ahead of the competition.

Develop a loyal customer base:

A loyal customer base is important for the long-term success of your e-commerce business. Customers who are loyal to the business are more likely to share positive reviews about your products, repeat purchases, and refer your business to others.

E-commerce Startup FAQs

How Much Does It Cost to Start an E-commerce Business?

The cost of starting an e-commerce business varies depending on several factors, such as the type of business model you chose, the products or services, and your target market. However, there are some general costs that you can expect to incur, such as:

1. E-commerce websites: This will be your online store, where you display your products/services for consumers. Expenses: $5,000+
2. E-commerce platform: These platforms are software applications that allow you to create and manage your online store. Popular e-commerce platforms include Shopify, WooCommerce, etc. Expenses: $29-$79+ per month
3. Domain name: A domain name is the address of your website on the internet. Expenses: $10-$20 per year
4. Web hosting: Web hosting is the service that stores your website files and makes them accessible to visitors. Expenses: $50+ per year
5. Product: product research, raw materials, inventory, supplier, manufacturing, patents, etc.
6. Team/staff: salaries, benefits, perks, etc.
7. Operating: incorporation/legal fees, additional software, business insurance, accounting, etc.
8. Marketing: logo, branding, ads, printed materials, business cards, etc.

Overall, the cost to start an e-commerce business can range from a few hundred dollars to several thousand dollars, depending on the factors mentioned above. By carefully planning your budget and choosing the right strategies, you can reduce the cost of starting your business and increase your chances of success.

What E-commerce Business Model Is Best for Beginners?

B2C (Business-to-consumer) E-commerce – It’s the most traditional retail model and also the easiest for someone new to eCommerce. B2C eCommerce is experiencing rapid growth as more customers choose to shop online, rather than visiting brick-and-mortar retail stores.

How Do I Start an E-commerce Business with No Money?

Starting an e-commerce business that uses a dropshipping model, while making use of free marketing channels, is a great way to start such a company with close to no starting costs. Once you’ve built up a little profit this way, you can then invest some of it back into your business and grow from there.

What Products Are Ideal for Beginners in E-commerce?

Getting started in e-commerce can be both exciting and daunting, especially when it comes to choosing the right products to sell. For beginners, it’s important to select products that are easy to manage and have a steady market demand. Niche accessories, beauty and skincare products, digital goods, and home and kitchen gadgets are all great options that appeal to a wide range of customers. 

These product categories enable e-commerce beginners to gain valuable insight into market trends and consumer behavior while building a sustainable & profitable business model.

Also Read: Product Research: Beginner Guide on How to Find a Winning Product in 2024

How Often Should I Post On My E-Commerce Site’s Blog?

The frequency with which you post on your e-commerce website will depend on several factors, such as the type of products you sell, your target audience, and your goals. Generally, it is recommended to post at least 2-4 times per week.

If you sell products that change frequently, such as fashion items or seasonal products, you may want to post more often to keep your website up-to-date. If you sell products that don’t change as often, such as electronics or home goods, you may be able to get away with posting less often.

Lastly, you need to consider your goals when deciding on how often to post. If traffic is what you’re after, there are more concrete considerations to keep in mind. For instance, HubSpot’s research shows that posts 3 to 4 times per week are what is needed to boost organic traffic. However, if you’re merely after brand awareness, just 1-2 times per week will work best. 

Also Read: Blogging for SEO: How Does Blogging Help SEO?

How Can I Engage with My Audience and Build a Community?

Engaging with your audience and building a community around your brand or content is crucial for long-term success. Here are some effective strategies to help you engage with your audience and foster a thriving community:

1. Define your target audience: Understand your audience’s demographics, interests, and needs. This knowledge will help you tailor your content and engagement efforts to resonate with them.
2. Consistent and high-quality content: Create valuable and relevant content regularly. Whether it’s blog posts, videos, podcasts, or social media updates, aim to provide consistent quality that educates, entertains, or solves a problem for your audience. Engaging content is the foundation of building a community.
3. Encourage audience participation: Actively encourage your audience to participate and contribute. Ask questions, run polls, or create contests to spark engagement. User-generated content, such as testimonials, reviews, or user-submitted content, can also foster a sense of community and involvement.
4. Respond and interact: Make it a priority to respond promptly to comments, messages, and inquiries from your audience. Engage in conversations, answer questions, and thank your audience for their support. Show that you value their input and make them feel heard.
5. Create a dedicated community platform: Consider creating a dedicated online platform where your audience can gather and interact with each other. This could be a forum, a private Facebook group, or a membership site. Such platforms foster a sense of belonging and allow your audience to connect with like-minded individuals.
6. Collaboration and partnerships: Collaborate with influencers, experts, or complementary brands to expand your reach and engage with new audiences. Cross-promotions, joint webinars, or guest content exchanges can help you tap into their communities while introducing your audience to valuable resources.

Remember, building a community takes time and effort, but it is worth it in the long run. You’ll need to be consistent, engaged, and genuinely interested in your audience’s needs for your brand or content to thrive.

Summary

Starting an e-commerce business as an absolute beginner may seem like a daunting task, but with the right guidance, it’s entirely achievable. By understanding the core concepts of e-commerce, selecting the ideal niche, crafting a user-friendly website, managing products effectively, and implementing marketing strategies, you can lay the foundation for a successful e-commerce business. 

Also Read:

We hope you’ve learned all you need to start your e-commerce business with this detailed guide. If you have any questions or need any assistance, don’t hesitate to reach out!

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About the author

Afenuvon Gbenga

Meet Afenuvon Gbenga, a full-time blogger, YouTuber, ICT specialist, tech researcher, publisher, and an experienced professional in e-commerce and affiliate marketing. Are you eager to kickstart your online business, then you're in the right place. Join us at techwithgbenga.com, where you'll uncover the insider secrets to starting and scaling a successful online business from the best!

Before blogging which started as a side project in 2019, Gbenga successfully led a digital marketing team for a prominent e-commerce startup. His expertise also extends to evaluating and recommending top-notch software solutions to boost your online business.

2 comments

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  • I stumbled upon this incredibly informative blog post and let me tell you, it has left me absolutely thrilled about the possibilities that lie ahead! The author’s excitement and passion for the subject matter make it an absolute joy to read. But I have a request, can you write about a unique but proven ways to make make money online? Not general concepts like dropshipping, affiliate marketing etc. I personally feel those are saturated. Thanks!

Afenuvon Gbenga

Meet Afenuvon Gbenga, a full-time blogger, YouTuber, ICT specialist, tech researcher, publisher, and an experienced professional in e-commerce and affiliate marketing. Are you eager to kickstart your online business, then you're in the right place. Join us at techwithgbenga.com, where you'll uncover the insider secrets to starting and scaling a successful online business from the best...

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