Starting an eCommerce Business 101

Updated: Feb 19

It has never been easier to start your own eCommerce site. Whether you decide to sell your own products or leverage a drop ship model todays platforms will allow you to get up and running in no time.

The fact that you know the name of your mail carrier and that of your UPS and Federal Express drivers should not concern you. It is a sign of the times, whether necessary or by choice online shopping is the future and recent events have only accelerated the move online. It has never been easier to start an online business and in the next series of blogs, I will provide you with how to become your own boss. Today we will discuss the foundation, later discussions will teach you the steps to building a thriving business and breakdown and provide details for each of the bullet points we cover.


Business Plan

The first step is coming up with a business plan. This is typically where most businesses fail to launch. Trying to solve the imagined problems of your nonexistent business is a recipe for disaster at this stage. Keep it simple. If you have a product idea, great, if not start looking for products that solve problems for your target customers. Here are the key elements to consider at this stage:

  • Your product idea

  • Defining your target customer

  • Determining the viability of your idea

  • Creating or sourcing your product

Branding and Marketing

Branding and marketing go hand in hand and are key components when it comes to executing your plan. Branding helps your business to look professional and creates the impression, for your customers, that your business can indeed help solve their problems. Marketing is how we bring your invaluable product idea to enough customers and compel enough of them to buy your products to make your business viable. Pretty easy. Branding should be simple and consistent. Marketing should be compelling and tell the story that leads to a problem that only your product can solve. Items to consider:

  • Business and domain name

  • Logo and visual tone

  • Social media presence

  • Advertising

  • Understanding the sales funnel

Product Presentation

The online presentation is a critical component of your eCommerce site. To ensure your product is prominently displayed a white background is key. Most prominent eCommerce websites such as Amazon require white backgrounds and the goals of your product pages do not match those of your branding and marketing efforts. At the point where your customer is making a product decision this simple approach may broaden the appeal of your product and allows your customer to ask one question; will this do what I want it to do?


Use the highest resolution images your platform allows; Shopify’s maximum resolution is 2048 x 2048 pixels. This 1:1 ratio of height-to-width will provide a consistent look across your site and consistency is a critical design guideline.


Now that we have some crisp images of our products, we need to create the copy for our product descriptions. This is a balancing act between providing a thorough description and a compelling story about why you cannot live without the product and being too wordy, like this sentence. Our final task is to set the price. There is a lot to unpacked regarding this topic. The key to pricing products is closely tied to your market analysis, your targeted customer, and your break-even analysis. We will break down these product presentation elements in future posts:

  • Product photography best practices

  • On page design considerations

  • Description copy best practices

  • Pricing considerations

Online Store Platform and Settings

Here is where technology and innovation have come together to make the path to creating your own online business a relatively straight forward process. Online platforms such as Shopify and BigCommerce have created platforms packed with apps and resources to help you get a store up and running in days rather than months. These platforms allow you to manage your branding, marketing, and product presentation while providing robust operational components like sourcing, inventory control, payment gateways, and shipping. Additionally, there are templates for terms of use, privacy, and return policies, and even some help with the ever-changing tax collection challenges associated with an online business model.


Our experience setting up a Shopify store at Rich Life Brands was exceptional. There is an overwhelming amount of resources and information available, but the initial dashboard setup provides a critical path to getting your store up and your products in front of your customers. We will reference our experience with this platform in future blogs and cover these elements for this category:

  • Site themes and customization

  • Store components and navigation

  • Legal components

  • Checkout, payment gateways, and taxes

  • Customer service, shipping, and returns

Launch

Congratulations, you are ready to hit the publish button. You should test your store to make certain the components function as anticipated and may want to do a soft launch with friends and family to ensure a smooth process through delivery. I know your head is spinning but take a breath. Not every detail will be perfect, this is the first step on a long road. Taking this step is the most terrifying and important step on the path to building your own business. You now have a platform to test your business plan and every minute of work you put into perfecting your offering builds wealth for you and your family.


I have some experience coding an online business from scratch so getting through the preliminary components of the business plan and the elements I needed in place to start branding and marketing my site was familiar. I will share a checklist in the next blog in this series. I promise. Once you have these elements in place, using Shopify was a wonderful experience. I signed up for their free trial with a domain, including email, and social media accounts (Facebook - @richlifebrands, Instagram - @richlifebrands, and Twitter - @richlifebrands ), and following the step-by-step guide was able to source products and build my completely functional eCommerce site in three days. I launched it today with this post, check us out at https://richlifebrands.com/. Stay tuned as we drill down into the details you will want to consider before your launch.

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