How to Start an Ecommerce Business — Sellbrite

In 2019, 1.92 billion people shopped online, and today, with the variety of marketplaces and free tools available, it’s easier than ever to start your own ecommerce business and get in on the online shopping action.

But running a successful ecommerce business requires much more than just choosing a shop name and starting to sell products. If you want to learn how to start an ecommerce business, it involves several important steps that begin with what you’re selling.

1. Select a Product

Or maybe you don’t know what you want to sell. In that case, here are a few ideas to help you get started.

Follow your passion

Starting an ecommerce business based on a favorite hobby or personal experience is a great idea because you already have an interest in the topic, as well as knowledge of it, which can help you build a successful venture — and enjoy it in the process.

Look at Trends

Solve a Pain Point

2. Choose a Business Model



Private Labeling

White Labeling


For example, Pampered Post sends subscribers a variety of self-care products, such as those shown above, that are sourced from Canadian businesses.

3. Check Out the Competition

That’s why it’s essential to do a little research before you launch your store.

Take a look at who else is selling similar products or is running a business comparable to your own. Then, conduct a competitive analysis to determine how you can differentiate both your product and your business so it stands out in the marketplace.

4. Find Vendors

If you’ll be crafting your own merchandise, this part may be simple, but if you’re starting a dropshipping business, for example, there will be several steps involved.

For example, if you’re using Shopify for dropshipping, you may want to download the Oberlo app, one of the most popular for dropshipping, and use it to select products to add to your store. Oberlo has a variety of items to choose from, as illustrated below, and you can even customize the products by renaming them, selecting photos, and drafting your own item descriptions.

However, if you need to find a supplier or manufacturer to create custom products for your business, this can be a bit more complicated. Sourcify is a great resource if you’ll be producing your own merchandise. You can also check out this article from Shopify to find suppliers for your store.

5. Select Marketplaces

And you don’t have to stick with just one — Sellbrite makes it easy to list items and manage inventory across many marketplaces at once.

6. Pick a Business Name

  • Keep it simple. A business name should be memorable, easy to pronounce, and short enough that it can fit on product packaging and header images for your website and social accounts.
  • Be unique. Your business name should stand out, but it should still be an accurate reflection of the products you sell. It should also be different from the names of your direct competitors, so refer back to your research to come up with a name that’s uniquely yours.
  • Research domains and social sites. Before deciding on a name, ensure that you’ll be able to obtain social handles and a domain name that are a good fit for your brand.

7. Write a Business Plan

Check out this article from Shopify to help you get started.

8. Do the Paperwork

Regulations vary, depending on your country and state, but, generally, you’ll need to register your business and apply for a business license. If you’re starting an ecommerce business in the United States, you’ll also need to obtain an employer identification number.

9. Create a Logo

If you don’t have the resources to hire someone to design a custom logo, consider using a template or free logo-design site like DesignEvo.

10. Build Your Store

This can involve a variety of steps, depending on how and where you plan to sell, so check out these guides to setting up your presence on some of the most popular ecommerce marketplaces, and learn how to get the most out of the platforms:

If you’ll be selling products across multiple ecommerce marketplaces, simplify the process of uploading products, managing your listings, and maintaining inventory by using Sellbrite.

11. Market Your Ecommerce Business

Get Social

Product discovery on social media is growing, with more than 80% of shoppers saying they’ve discovered a product they were interested in on social media, up from 58% in 2017, according to Curalate research. Product discovery on Instagram has had the most growth, with 48% of consumers finding products there, up from 18% in 2017.

And consumers aren’t just turning to social media for ideas and inspiration — they’re shopping from social as well, especially on Instagram, which launched shoppable photos in 2016.

So take advantage of social media’s ability to help you sell products by setting up business accounts, building a following, and engaging with your audience on a regular basis. And you don’t have to be active on every social platform. Instead, focus on the ones your buyers are using, which you can track by using tools like Google Analytics.

Use Influencers

One of the perks of working with an influencer to promote your products is that it doesn’t have to break the bank. In fact, micro-influencers — those with 1,000 to 100,000 followers — are often the most successful at influencing purchasing decisions. In fact, 82% of people who receive a recommendation from a micro-influencer are highly likely to follow that recommendation and actually make a purchase.

Form Partnerships

Team up with a complementary social account to host a giveaway, contact bloggers to see if they’ll review your products, or generate buzz about your store by teaming up with other brands to do joint promotion.

Develop an SEO Strategy

Start by identifying keywords using tools like Google or Ahrefs, and then incorporate those keywords into your product listing titles and item descriptions. This will help you drive more traffic to your ecommerce store — and boost sales.

In addition to optimizing your ecommerce store for Google, you can also develop your SEO strategy specifically for the marketplace where you’re selling. For example, if you sell on Etsy, there are several steps you can take to make your products stand out and appear higher in search results within Etsy’s own search function.

Encourage Product Reviews

Take advantage of this by not only making it easy for consumers to read and write reviews but also encouraging shoppers to leave reviews. There are numerous ways to do this, including making reviews easy to identify on product pages, offering a discount or gift in return for a review, or simply following up with customers and requesting reviews.

For more ideas on how to market your ecommerce business, check out this article.

Put Customers First

So throughout the development of your business, keep the following questions in mind: How does your product fulfill a customer want or need? How easy is it to navigate your ecommerce site, add products to a cart, and complete a purchase? What kind of customer service do you offer, and how can it be improved?

Acquiring a new customer can cost five times more than retaining an existing one, so keep your focus on the customer to ensure that your ecommerce business is a success.

William Harris is the CEO and ecommerce consultant at Elumynt and outsourced VP of marketing and growth for several large ecommerce and SaaS brands. He’s also an author for Entrepreneur, Fast Company, The Next Web, Search Engine Journal, and many other leading publications. Follow him on Twitter at @wmharris101, LinkedIn, Facebook, and Google+.

Originally published at on December 31, 2019.

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