There is no shortage of opportunity when it comes to making a profit through online commerce. Where there’s opportunity, however, there’s also competition.

In order to make the most of this entrepreneurial endeavor, take some time to carefully plan everything out. Learn how to start an ecommerce business from us, and you’ll be generating a steady stream of revenue in a legal and efficient manner before you know it.

Table of Contents

  1. Take an Angle, Pick a Niche
  2. Develop a Business Plan
  3. Familiarize Yourself with WordPress
  4. Master Google Tools 
  5. Find the Right Payment Service Provider
  6. Understand the Online Legal Landscape
  7. Final Thoughts

1. Take an Angle, Pick a Niche

Small Christmas-themed toy village, also incorporates animals

Animal-themed miniature Christmas villages. Quite the niche!

Even if you know what you want to sell, you should still take time to develop and contemplate the various less-tapped niches in your industry. Otherwise, you’ll inevitably end up facing steep competition in a saturated market.

Focus on what you know, and what makes you different. Your competitive advantage might be in what you sell (product), or even who you are and what you bring to the table (service). Whatever it is, make sure it’s at the front and center of your marketing efforts.

Think about areas about areas in your industry you excel in or have deep connections with, and beat your competition by offering a unique take. Narrow down your chosen product or service so you can offer a distinct selling point to your customers.

2. Develop a Business Plan

business woman looks on as another woman pulls at a sticky note on a blackboard

Sometimes it helps the ideation process to get everything out in writing.

In order to build a profitable business and land potential investors, you need to be able to make reasonable future projections and lay out an attack plan. That’s where your business plan comes in.

A good business plan sets the tone, and gives your company a foundation from which to work from. Its contents should explain how your business model (subscription service, product sales, or other revenue stream) will lead to profit.

And even though your plan acts as a tangible starting point for your business, it can help you make future projections as well.

While you don’t need to worry about physically expanding your storefront as an ecommerce business (if you even have one), it’s important to keep an eye on your business’s trajectory. As you grow, it’s possible you’ll need to ship goods further across the globe. You’ll have to figure out the logistics of product sourcing, order fulfillment, and exporting goods in order to keep moving forward.

3. Familiarize Yourself with WordPress

woman looking at an ecommerce platform on her laptop, indoors, warm lighting

WordPress is great because it’s user friendly and free (to an extent).

WordPress is a practical and intuitive platform for small business owners. It offers a variety of easy-to-use and customizable templates for you to build an ecommerce site.

Before launching your business, make sure you know how WordPress works; especially its various plug-ins. Among other things, these plugins facilitate online payments, email marketing, document management, and a plethora of other functions. If you’re a one-man army, you’ll have to handle this crucial aspect of your online business.

You can start acclimating to the functions of WordPress by setting up a free site. Keep in mind, however, that many of the features that make the platform so valuable for small business owners are not available with the free version. Regardless, you can still get an idea of how to update your site and how to modify it with a little practice.

4. Master Google Tools

Google Analytics android app on S7. Google Analytics is a freemium web analytics service offered by Google that tracks and reports website traffic.

Google Analytics is a marketer’s (and business owner’s) best friend.

As an ecommerce business owner, knowing who is landing on your website and how they behave once they arrive is critical to your success. Seeing the number of hits your site receives is a fairly common element of every content management system (CMS). Google, however, provides an array of tools that take your data analysis efforts to the next level.

Some of the key tools proffered include Google Analytics, Google Search Console, Google’s Keyword Tool and Google My Business.

My Business helps you to establish an online presence. Keyword Tool helps you develop content that attracts the right people to your online store. Analytics tells you who’s coming to your site, how they got there, and how much time they spent bouncing around from page to page.

Why is this essential? Well, if you’re running Facebook ads to target millennials in Michigan, but most of your hits are coming from 50 to 60 year olds from a small town in Australia, you probably need to reassess your marketing strategy.

5. Find the Right Payment Service Provider

Credit card problem. Online bank not working or bad internet connection. Confused and surprised man holding bank card and spreading hands. Financial difficulties or no money. Forgot password.

Bad payment processors can leave customers frustrated and unlikely to return.

Arguably the most important element of getting an ecommerce business up and going is acquiring a reliable merchant account. Without the capacity to process transactions from your customers, it’s simply impossible to run an online company.

This essential element of running a business should not be a mere afterthought. Not only do you want to ensure your payments are processed promptly, you want to reassure customers their information is secure. Landing a processor who is PCI DSS compliant, assists you with chargeback prevention, and has a history of valuing security will go a long way toward achieving this goal.

Take time to analyze different payment processing options on the market, as well as the various features they offer. You want a processor who is trustworthy, secure, fair, and can scale with your business. This may sound like a hefty order, but such providers are out there if you know where to look.

6. Understand the Online Legal Landscape

woman reading a privacy policy on a tablet device, with a laptop in the background

Online laws are stricter than ever today – make sure your policies are sound!

An important thing to keep in mind is that an ecommerce site, just like a brick-and-mortar business, is subject to a variety of legal regulations. Before you get too far into the game, make sure you understand your responsibilities.

For instance, you must choose a company name that doesn’t fall under the copyright umbrella of another business, and you also must be aware of any licenses and taxes for which you’re responsible.

Remember — as an ecommerce business, there may be more requirements you need to fulfill depending on where your customers live – not just the state where you are located. For instance, did you know that every state has its own set of privacy laws that pertain to businesses selling to their residents?

Final Thoughts

It’s an exciting endeavor to start up a business on your own, and it’s easier than ever with the internet at your fingertips. Don’t neglect the numerous free tools available online, because they will help you as you and your company grow.

If you take everything day by day, engage in prudent planning, and make the most of what you have to offer, you should be able to make headway into the world of ecommerce.

Have any other suggestions on how to get an ecommerce business on the right track? Leave a comment below, we’d love to hear from you. And if you’re looking for your own ecommerce payment processing solution, get in touch – we’d be happy to schedule a phone call.


About the Author

Geoff Scott is a Payments Consultant for Motile LLC, where he strives to connect users across the internet with processing solutions for their small businesses. He also loves Thai food, craft beer, and an exhilarating game of squash (when he's off the clock, of course).