How to Start an eCommerce Business from Scratch

This week we will talk about how to start an eCommerce business. We get this question a lot. Obviously at Optimum7, we work on growing eCommerce businesses. There are a lot of people, a lot of investors who want to take the plunge.

When we talk about starting an eCommerce business, we have to cover a lot of ground. Today we’ll go step-by-step, introduce somebody into eCommerce and reinforce the core things that you need to be doing.

eCommerce Business Ideas: Identifying Opportunity

The first thing is the product selection. When we are looking at all of our eCommerce clients, we have people who are selling custom scales, industrial products, pet products, t-shirt, apparel, boxes for other businesses, more B2B.

If you were to start an eCommerce business, how do you go through the product selection process?

First things first, am I selling a unique product or am I selling a product that’s already out there, am I going to be a reseller? That means two completely different strategies.

One, you’re really trying to, with the unique product, you’ve got to grow a brand. You’re trying to build a brand up that doesn’t exist.

Selling And Reselling Products Online

If I’m now reselling, it’s a completely different ballgame, a lot more competitive. That product is already out on the web and has been a lot longer than mine has. Again, first things first, identify is my product unique or is it already being sold out there?

The brand signifies value and it’s going to be that way and it’s going to get harder and harder to be a brand. We don’t think that in today’s marketplace. I don’t think it’s hard to be a brand right now, but five years, 10 years down the line, it’s going to become very, very difficult.

During the product selection process, if somebody came to me and said, “Hey, I have this opportunity and I can be a reseller for this specific brand or for this specific supplier,” I would say really think long and hard about what you want to do. You will never control that brand and you will never control the supply chain.

I say this to anybody that buys and sells somebody else’s products: they will never be the brand and if you are not the brand, you will not be in business in the next five, 10 years in my opinion, unless you have a huge relationships with huge suppliers and your family, your father, your grandfather has had these for 50, 60, 70 years where you kind of just got the relationship from somebody else, it’s going to be very difficult.

Here’s an example. If you actually search for how to market and introduce CBD products or CBD oil, we are on the first page. We get a lot of requests for this.

When people come to us, we say, “Well, don’t resell other people’s products. Source your own products.” White-label other people’s products and become the brand.

Why do we say that a lot?

These big-box retailers like Amazon and Walmart and Jet, they’re making it a lot more difficult for new players to enter the game and resell other products. One has to do with the visibility, you’re just not going to get the visibility on these products because they’re taking that away from you. And then in addition to that, it’s the price point, right? You’re going to find a much lower price point on Amazon or Walmart than you possibly could offer on your site.

You must be the brand if you want long-term success when it comes to eCommerce. It sounds very generic but it works. Develop your own logo and value proposition.

How To Successfully Sell Online

How are you differentiating yourself from everybody else that sells CBD oil? You have to go into a specific niche or provide an extremely high-quality product.

What’s your value? What are you doing better than everybody else? You need to think about this before jumping into eCommerce now because it’s incredibly competitive.

Find an emotional product. If you lack a product that appeals to human emotion, you will not be successful. We see this more often with different types of products that are sourced out of Asia. Cultures there dictate you need a product that appeals to human emotion.

Let’s say I go through the product selection phase. What’s the next thing that I need to note? There are probably 1000 technical elements we can review. We’re going to do the top three.

What are those top three elements?

Platform selection, what eCommerce platform are you going to be on. Two is you need to put together a marketing strategy or at least have one in the works, and then three is identify your ideal target demographic.

Your eCommerce Website Platforms

Which platforms would you recommend?

It depends on your product offering. Say you have 20 products. I would start off with an out-of-the-box hosted solution, possibly BigCommerce or Shopify.

Choose something that’s scalable as well. Those two platforms are also scalable, that I can start to build up and I don’t have to worry about re-platforming or migrating to another platform once I exceed a certain amount of products or sales.

It doesn’t cost that much money at twenty to forty dollars. You can have a store, integrations, and payment. It’s very straightforward to set that up. Let’s talk about the ideal customer or client demographic.

Suppose I’m selling baby clothes and I have a high-quality bamboo baby product. How do you determine who you’re really going to sell to, who you’re going to really go after? What’s the best way? Marketing strategy and the ideal customer come together.

How do you make the first step or take the first step to actually start deciding, “Okay, I got to go after these people?”

One, you break down your product offering. You look at the material, it’s high end. Look your price point and now compare that price point to other competitors and kind of take a look at their demographic and you can already tell that, okay, yeah, my demographic is going to overlap or be exactly the same as this competitor. Really identify and dissect your competitors.

Once you have the products and once you have the store, the fastest way to get orders is Google Shopping. Submit your feed to Google Shopping, that’s the fastest way, but you have to invest in content marketing, you have to write content.

Let’s talk about social media. How can somebody get visibility in social media?

You can get visibility right off the bat with Facebook ads or Instagram ads. Again, you’re going to have to pay to play.

What if I don’t know how to do Facebook ads?

Hire an expert.

What if I don’t have that much money?

Outsource your staff. There are people on Upwork who, say they do this for $10, $15 an hour. You can hire somebody.

Perform tests and get to a point where you are in the marketplace. People are seeing your product and engage.

If you think about it realistically, you don’t really have to sell that many. If you sell like 10 baby products on a daily basis and each one is, let’s say 30 bucks, you’re making $300 times 30, it adds up.

Don’t think this is a huge wall that you need to build. Worry about the specific brick in front of you and build this brick by brick. So people always find excuses about not getting started with something, it’s very easy.

Outsourcing Your eCommerce Business

Go to Upwork, hire a guy, speak to multiple people, and have a business plan. The plan is very important. If you need to watch this again, watch this Search session again and go from the beginning and create your own outline. We’re going to provide an outline with this Search session, but you should have your own in terms of which phases of an eCommerce business you need to build.

Did we miss anything?

In the beginning, you’re going to be spending money on advertising and your margins might not be there. You might just be breaking even in the first couple of months. That’s okay.

You’re generating awareness and building up that brand. Eventually, you’ll be able to afford a better CPA.

Be patient. Growth takes time. Things need to catch on to your audience. Hone down on the proper targeting. Once you do that, you’ll start to see revenue.

eCommerce Site Alternatives

Another fast way to get sales is Amazon or possibly Etsy if you’re doing any kind of artistic or handmade product. However, Amazon is going to take 15 to 30%, so you have to have a product that has high margins to be able to make money on Amazon. Remember that Amazon is incredibly competitive.

If you want to build your brand and sell through your website, that’s the best money that you guys will make. We’ll talk to you guys next week.

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