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How to start an ecommerce business in 2023: step by step guide

If you're reading this, maybe you're an established business, an entrepreneur, or just a professional eager—and curious—to start an ecommerce business. And it's no wonder you're here, because global ecommerce has reached good cruising speed and is there, on the minds of many of us.

The data is shocking. According to this note from the National Commission for Markets and Competition (CNMC), in Spain, ecommerce exceeded 72,000 million euros in 2022, 25% more than in 2021. If we look at the data globally, they become even more interesting. According to this Adobe article, In 2022, the US retail ecommerce ecosystem generated approximately $856.8 billion in revenue.

By 2023, an estimated 2.64 billion consumers will have completed at least one online purchase. Perhaps reading this data, the question that should be asked is: How many of those consumers will buy in your ecommerce business? All reports agree that the only thing that ecommerce will do in the coming years is to grow.

This means that if you are wanting to start an ecommerce business, this is perhaps the golden moment to do it. From small entrepreneurs, clothing brands to manufacturers from all industries They are venturing into ecommerce. And in many cases, managing to successfully transform their business towards digital.

Starting an ecommerce business requires several important elements. That is why in this article, we will provide you with a step-by-step guide to help you start your own digital commerce. From the definition of your business idea to the configuration of your online store, the acquisition of inventory, marketing strategies and customer service, we will cover all the essential aspects that you need to know to start successfully in the world of ecommerce.

Whether you want to sell physical products, digital services, or even artisan products, this guide will provide you with the knowledge and tools you need to take the first steps toward building your online business. Get ready to dive into the exciting world of ecommerce and discover the unlimited potential that awaits you behind this adventure.

Starting an ecommerce business in 2023: the essential guide.

#1 Define your business idea:

The first fundamental step to start an ecommerce business is to define your business idea. This involves identifying your market niche and determining what products or services you will offer in your online store. Here are some key steps to consider in this process:

  • Identify your market niche: The ecommerce industry is highly competitive. So it is best to choose a specific area that you want to focus on. It can be a specialized product or service that meets the needs of a specific group of customers. Research and analyze different niches to identify those with sustainable demand and manageable competition.
  • Research the market and competition: Conduct extensive research to understand the competitive landscape of your niche. Examine your direct and indirect competitors, analyze their value proposition, pricing, marketing strategies, and customer feedback. This will help you identify opportunities to differentiate yourself and stand out in the market.
  • Define your unique value proposition: What makes you special before the rest? Clearly define how your ecommerce business will differentiate itself from the competition. Ask yourself what additional value you can offer your customers, whether through the quality of your products, competitive pricing, exceptional user experience, personalized customer service, or other differentiating features.
  • Identify your target audience: Understand who your ideal customers are. Define their demographics, interests, needs, and buying behaviors. This will allow you to tailor your products, marketing messages, and sales strategies to effectively attract and satisfy your target audience.
  • Evaluate financial viability: This is very important. Before fully committing to your business idea, do a financial analysis to make sure it's viable and, of course, profitable. Calculate production costs, expected profit margins, and also consider things like marketing expenses, storage, and shipping costs. This will help you determine if your business is financially viable and if you can meet your profit goals.

Defining your eCommerce business idea is a crucial step that lays the foundation for your company's future success. Don't take it lightly. Once you have completed this stage, you are ready to move on to the next phase of strategic planning and development of your online business.

#2 Plan with strategic focus:

Once you have defined your ecommerce business idea, it is time to develop a solid strategic plan that guides you on the path to success. Here is a list of the key elements to consider:

  1. Set clear goals and objectives: Define your short and long term business goals and objectives. Define specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-limited goals (SMART) to help you stay focused and measure your progress over time. For example, you could set a monthly sales goal or target conversion rate.
  2. Develop a business plan: This is a neuralgic element in this whole process. Try to develop a detailed business plan that covers all aspects of your business. This includes the legal structure, the description of your products or services, the market analysis, the marketing strategy, the financial projections and any other relevant details. Your business plan will serve as a comprehensive guide and help you make informed decisions over time. And it will also help you talk with potential investors and partners.
  3. Determine the initial budget: Create a realistic budget to start and operate your ecommerce business. Consider the initial costs such as the development of the ecommerce platform, inventory acquisition, visual design, first marketing actions, as well as recurring expenses such as web hosting, payment services and shipping costs. Make sure you have enough funds to cover these expenses for the first few months of operation. Yes, it is perhaps the most challenging. But necessary.
  4. Analyze your competition: Carry out an exhaustive analysis of the competition in your market niche. Identify your direct and indirect competitors and analyze their strengths, weaknesses and strategies. This will allow you to better understand the market and find opportunities to differentiate yourself. As much as possible, learn from their successes and failures to adjust your approach and stand out in the market.
  5. Design the marketing strategy: If you do not have knowledge of this area, it is best to be accompanied by professionals. Whatever your choice, think about developing a comprehensive marketing strategy that allows you to reach your target audience and promote your business effectively. Consider using digital marketing tactics such as SEO (search engine optimization), content marketing, social media advertising, email marketing, and even reaching out to influencers. Define the channels and strategies that you will use to generate visibility and attract potential customers to your online store. Don't forget creativity!
  6. Establish key performance indicators (KPIs): We always say it, what cannot be measured cannot be improved. So try to identify KPIs relevant to your business, such as sales, website traffic, conversion rate, cost per customer acquisition (CAC), and rate of return on investment (ROI). These KPIs will allow you to measure the performance of your business and make informed decisions to optimize your strategies and achieve your goals. Measure, measure and measure.

    A tool like Valido App, can help you monitor and measure the critical indicators of your online store, in an automated way and with the use of Artificial Intelligence. The best thing is that it has a Free Trial that you can start in a few minutes.

Strategic planning is essential to the long-term success of your ecommerce business. By spending time defining your goals, developing a solid business plan, and developing effective strategies, you'll be laying a solid foundation that will allow you to make better decisions and adapt as you grow and evolve.

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#3 Create and configure your online store:

After you have completed the strategic planning phase, the stellar moment arrives. Create and configure your online store. How to create your store successfully? This is what you should consider:

Select the appropriate ecommerce platform:

Depending on your business mode, you must choose an ecommerce platform that suits your specific needs and business objectives. Some popular options include BigCommerce, HCL Commerce, B2BStore and Magento. Evaluate each platform's features, ease of use, cost, and integrations before making a decision. If you need support with a specialized partner, you can contact us here.

Register a domain and get web hosting:

Choose a unique and relevant domain name for your business. You must register it through a trusted provider. Also, don't forget to select a reliable web hosting service that will ensure fast and reliable performance for your online store. Although most of the ecommerce platforms, mentioned above, usually have this aspect resolved.

Customize the design of your store:

After installing the selected ecommerce platform, comes the visual aspect. Most platforms use templates to deploy the storefront. And they are usually very easy to use. In this sense, we suggest you choose a design template that aligns with your brand identity and the experience you want to provide your customers. Customize the look and feel of your online store to reflect your brand aesthetic and make sure it's easy to navigate and use on different devices.

Configure the payment gateway and security:

Keeping security always in mind, set up a payment gateway that allows your customers to carry out transactions in an easy and protected way. Be sure to offer different payment options, such as credit cards, PayPal, or bank transfers. Implement security measures, such as the SSL certificate, to protect the personal and financial data of your customers.

Optimize the user experience:

Make sure your users' experience is smooth and enjoyable. Optimize the loading speed of your website, simplify the purchase process and provide clear information about your products, prices and shipping and return policies. Plus, it incorporates search and filter features to help customers quickly find what they're looking for.

Configure shipping and return policies:

The facility for returns is an element that digital consumers value and helps them make the purchase decision. For this reason, we suggest you define your shipping and return policies in a clear and transparent manner. Determine available shipping methods, estimated delivery times, and applicable fees. Also, establish fair return policies and provide prominent communication within your store.

Run extensive tests:

Before officially launching your online store, perform extensive tests to make sure everything works correctly. Check the functionality of the purchase buttons, the payment options, the user registration process and the general navigation of the site. Additionally, it tests across different devices and browsers to ensure a consistent experience.

Once everything is set up in your ecommerce, you are ready to start adding products and promoting your business. Remember that the initial setup is just the beginning, and you will need to continuously monitor and optimize your store as it grows and develops.

#4. Manage inventory:

A fundamental part of the ecommerce business is efficient inventory management. This is a basic list of what cannot be missing at this stage:

  • Decide your inventory management model: Determine if you will opt for a proprietary inventory business model or use the inventory model dropshipping.
  • Find reliable providers: Identifies and establishes relationships with reliable suppliers that offer quality products and reliable delivery times.
  • Establish shipping and delivery agreements: If you choose to own inventory, set up agreements with shipping and delivery services to ensure that your products reach your customers quickly and safely. Also consider offering free shipping or special promotions to attract more customers.
  • Implement an inventory management system: Use an efficient inventory management system to track your products, manage stock, and avoid out-of-stock or overstock issues. You can use inventory management software and tools specifically designed for ecommerce businesses that will allow you to track sales, control stock levels, and place replenishment orders automatically.
  • Optimizes the storage and packaging process: Organize your storage space efficiently to make it easy to find and access your products. Label and classify correctly, to expedite the shipping process. Also, make sure you have secure and attractive packaging that protects your products during shipment and provides a positive customer experience upon receipt.
  • Track and analyze inventory: Keep a detailed record of your inventory levels, sales and returns. With regular monitoring and analysis of the data you will be able to identify demand patterns, popular products and those that require further promotion. This will help you make informed decisions about inventory replenishment and product management.

Remember that proper inventory management is essential to meet your customer demand and maintain a smooth operation. Stay on top of your inventory levels, look for opportunities to optimize costs, and make sure your products are always available to meet your customers' needs.

#5 Deploy marketing and promotion strategies:

Now that the online store is created and ready to receive customers, it is time to implement the marketing and promotion strategy to drive traffic to your ecommerce site and convert visitors into customers. In this article we have discussed it in detail, however do not forget:

  • Optimize your website for search engines which is known as SEO.
  • Create relevant and valuable content for your target audience.
  • Use social networks to create a community around your brand and products.
  • Implement email marketing strategies, for direct and close communication with your customers.
  • Collaborate with influencers and bloggers to reach new audiences.
  • Design and offer loyalty and rewards programs to increase customer loyalty.
  • Monitor the effectiveness of all marketing actions, with the aim of making improvements and aligning the approach.

Now that you've started marketing your ecommerce, don't forget to adjust your focus based on your results and stay up to date with the latest trends and changes in consumer behavior. A well-executed marketing strategy can help you drive traffic, increase conversions, and grow your digital business.

#6 Develop high-performance customer service

After having started marketing and having obtained your first sales, comes a very important stage: Customer service. In ecommerce, customer service is how online businesses support customers with everything. From making online purchasing decisions to solving problems, while creating a seamless customer experience across all channels and platforms.

In this digital world, customer service in ecommerce is not something good that you only do to deal with complaints or claims, but rather it is a requirement that is closely linked to the success of the business. According to Microsoft, for 95% of consumers, customer service is important to brand loyalty.

So it's not enough to just say you have customer service. Bad customer service can be even worse than not having it available. There is a significant discrepancy in the perceptions of companies and buyers when it comes to service quality, with 80% of companies believing that they provide excellent customer service, but only 8% of customers agree. agree with that perception.

Digital consumers today have very high expectations. Although fewer customers may be experiencing problems, more customers are tending to complain about customer service issues than ever before. And also, share it on your social networks. Something that potentially increases the risk of a brand reputation crisis.

Know very well the journey of your online buyers and incorporate customer service best practices without a doubt, it will become a greater benefit for your ecommerce business. You'll be able to retain customers and increase their lifetime value while also acquiring new customers, which is crucial for business sustainability.

Now is your turn!

Starting an ecommerce business is as exciting as it is challenging. You will learn to choose the right product/service(s), assess business viability, discover how to produce with quality, develop an ecommerce site, develop a marketing strategy, reach new audiences, serve customers, and sell more.

Sure, at times you will feel like you are solving a puzzle that gives you a headache, but it will be very rewarding in any case. You just have to keep this idea in mind: ecommerce is not a sprint, it is actually a marathon. For which you need perseverance and discipline.

We hope this guide on starting an ecommerce business gives you the ideal roadmap on your journey. As always, the best advice we can give you is: get started and enjoy yourself along the way.

Ready to develop your ecommerce? Contact us here today to start building an amazing project together.