How to start an ecommerce business
Are you considering the possibility of opening an online store and would you like some advice on this? Have you found services that allow you to start an ecommerce business in a few clicks, but you don’t know if they are reliable or if, more generally, they are suitable for the type of store you would like to open? You are right, very well indeed, to ask yourself all these questions. Starting an online business is an important step to take and absolutely nothing must be left to chance. At this point, then, I would say to deepen the subject and seek together the solutions you need.
Let’s start making the first distinctions. There are basically three ways to sell online: the first is to use one of the “prepackeged” services we referred to earlier, which allow you to start an online store in a few clicks at extremely low (if not free) costs; the second consists in the purchase of a domain and a Web space on which to install a CMS (Content Management System), that is a kind of software that allows you to fully manage all aspects of your online store, while in the final analysis there is is the possibility of turning to large existing stores, such as Amazon.
There is no better solution than another in absolute terms, it all depends on your needs and the budget you have available. In principle – but it certainly does not take a genius to understand it – ready-to-use services are more suitable for those who have to manage a small shop and do not have significant budgets to invest; CMS are more suitable for those who intend to be “serious”, that is, for those who want to start a medium-large ecommerce and have some money to invest (in addition to having medium-high level IT knowledge), while Amazon and the like are more suitable for those who have a physical store and want to expand their online business. If everything is clear to you up to now, I would say that we can explore the topic in detail!
How to start an ecommerce for free
If you do not intend to invest money in starting an ecommerce and you are satisfied with basic solutions, take a look at the platforms mentioned below: they allow you to start an ecommerce for free and in a rather simple way.
If you want to set up a professional ecommerce but do not have advanced knowledge in programming and Web design, you can rely on Shopify: it is a service used by over 1,000,000 stores around the world that allows you to create ecommerce sites with unlimited products. in a handful of clicks, both from a computer and from smartphones and tablets (via the appropriate app for Android and iOS / iPadOS).
It offers unlimited secure hosting, free unlimited bandwidth, a free shopify.com domain name (which can be replaced by purchasing a custom one or using an existing one) and everything you need to manage products, customers, orders, payments, shipping, inventory, marketing campaigns (with the ability to create them via Google, Facebook, email or SMS) and more. It offers many ready-to-use themes but also allows you to easily customize the design of the pages.
You can use Shopify for free for a limited trial period (without entering any payment details or renewal obligation), after which, to continue, you can choose between various plans, starting at $ 29 / month.
If you also want to start an ecommerce on Shopify, connected to the official website of the service, type your email address in the appropriate text field, click on the button Start the free trial and fill out the new form that is proposed to you by entering your password and name to use for the shop.
Once this is done, click on the Create your shop button, indicate if you have already started selling, what your current income is and if you are creating a shop for a customer, enter the rest of the requested information, go ahead and fill out the further form that is proposed to you with the address to receive payments.
After this step too, you will access the Shopify management panel with, on the left, the menu to access all the functions of the service: Home to view the main menu; Orders to manage orders; Products to manage products and add new ones; Customers to manage the customer list; Analysis to view sales data, Marketing, to set up marketing campaigns, Discounts to set discount codes, App to expand the functions of ecommerce via app and Online Store to customize the appearance of the pages.
It’s all very intuitive, in any case you can learn more about how the service works by reading my tutorial on how to start a Shopify store.
FreeWebStore is another platform that I recommend you try if you want to start an online ecommerce business, as it is designed specifically for building ecommerce, is very easy to use and is 100% free.
To use it, connected to the main page of FreeWebStore, click on the Get Started button, locate the template you prefer and click on the Select Design button that appears when you hover. Then register on the platform by filling out the form by writing your name in the Your Name text field, your email address in the Your Email Address text field and your password in the Create Password text field. Then put the checkmark on the item I am not a robot and click on the Create Account button.
Once you have registered, remember to confirm your account by clicking on the link that was sent to you by email to the address you provided earlier. Once you have logged into your account, answer the questions asked by the FreeWebStore assistant by providing your name, indicating your geographical area and whether the products you sell should receive age limits and then click on the Get started button.
Once in the FreeWebStore editor, you can customize your ecommerce using the integrated functions. To add new products, for example, you have to click on the Manage button located on the left, select the Product> Add a product and click on the Add product button. In the window that opens, then, complete the description of the product by providing all the data concerning the same and click on the Add button to add it to your shop.
How to start an ecommerce site
Do you want to start an ecommerce business and are you willing to invest time and money to start your online sales business? In this case, you can do it by creating a site based on CSM or by using ad hoc services.
CSM based website
If you intend to open a large online store, you must necessarily buy a Web domain (if you don’t know how to do it, check out my tutorial about it) and a Webspace suitable for hosting a CMS, which is a software that allows you to manage your site in all respects.
I recommend, before buying an online space, make sure that it has all the necessary requirements to host the type of store you have in mind to create: make sure it has support for all the php extensions necessary to make the CMS you choose to use work. , which has sufficient storage to host the contents of your store (even in the immediate future) and which allows a monthly traffic consistent with the catchment area you expect to have.
And now we come to the most important point: which ecommerce CMS to choose? Fortunately, the choice is very wide and, even in this case, there is no single answer to the question. It all depends on your needs, your budget and your degree of technical knowledge.
If you are not able to manage a Content Management System in person, or in any case you do not have the advanced technical knowledge to perform all the operations necessary to start an ecommerce, remember that you can rely on companies and professionals in the sector who can help you in starting. of your business. But now let’s go back to the main theme of this chapter and let’s see together some of the best CMS for the creation of online stores.
- WordPress – is a well-known free and open-source CMS born mainly for the creation of blogs which, however, thanks to the availability of numerous plugins and themes, can be transformed quite easily into an ecommerce platform. Among the most complete plugins for creating online stores via WordPress are WooCommerce, WP eCommerce and JigoShop which are basically free and also offer additional paid functions. Their installation is very simple, as is the management of objects. However, it should be emphasized a poor setting compared to other CMS that we will see shortly. In summary, we can say that WordPress is a good platform for ecommerce, it is very simple to use compared to other systems, but it is not suitable for the construction of very large or elaborate stores as it does not offer advanced configuration parameters like other CMS born specifically for use in online sales. To get a first idea on how to start a WordPress website, see my tutorial on the subject.
- Magento – is one of the most complete and powerful solutions for creating ecommerce. It is open-source and extremely customizable thanks to the numerous plugins and themes available (both free and paid). It can also be used to manage multiple online stores from the same administration panel. This enormous completeness compared to other systems, such as the aforementioned WordPress, can, however, leave novice users a bit confused. It should also be emphasized that to work properly it requires servers with quite high minimum requirements. It is available in two versions: the one called Community Edition which is free and the one called Enterprise Edition which, on the other hand, is paid and also includes technical support. In summary, we can say that Magento is a perfect solution for larger stores. More info here.
- Prestashop – is a French ecommerce platform released under an open-source license. It is leaner than Magento, requires less power (and therefore fewer costs) in terms of servers but also allows you to manage a smaller number of articles. It is quite simple to manage, in fact, its administration panel divides content management very clearly from the other settings. While not as popular as other solutions mentioned above, it has a very active community that can help solve any problems related to its use. More info here.
- Drupal – a very valid alternative to Magento, suitable for large stores. It is a free and open-source platform that offers a lot of freedom of action and can be customized in a very deep way. It requires advanced technical knowledge to be used. More info here.
- Joomla – another CMS that allows you to create websites and online stores. It is generally easier to use than Magento or Drupal and also has lower running costs. It is perfect for sites where there is a need to manage a large number of users and includes simplified functions for sharing files. Virtuemart is one of the most popular ecommerce plugins for this platform. More info here.
Services to start an ecommerce site
If, on the other hand, you want to rely on services that allow you to start an ecommerce site and you are willing to invest some economic resources to do this, I suggest you evaluate and solutions indicated below.
- Blomming – is a service that allows you to start an ecommerce business and sell products in a professional way, with the ability to customize the graphics of your store. In the past it allowed you to sell directly on Facebook, but at the time of writing, it no longer offers this feature. The cost of the service starts at $ 9.00 / month, but you can take advantage of the free 15-day trial before signing up for the subscription.
- Etsy – this is a platform that allows you to start an ecommerce business in which to sell handmade items or vintage items that are at least twenty years old. The opening of the store on this platform is free, but you must pay an insertion fee of $ 0.20 and, in the event of a sale, a commission equal to 5% of the value of the product (shipping costs excluded).
How to start an ecommerce business on Facebook
If you want to sell on Facebook and you are of age, you can use the Marketplace function of the social network, which allows you to publish sales announcements for various types of items and products: it is a sort of virtual space where anyone can buy and sell cars, motorcycles, books, technological devices and any other object.
Facebook groups are another valid solution to consider for publishing sales announcements on the social network. There are hundreds and hundreds of groups dedicated to the purchase and sale of products between users who live in the same geographical area and not.
Not to be underestimated, then, is the possibility of opening a Facebook page to which you can connect a showcase of products, thus offering the possibility of concluding the sale privately. To create a showcase of products on your Facebook page, access the social network’s home page, click on the Settings button located at the top, corresponding to your page, and click on the item Models and tabs located on the left.
In the new screen that opens, click on the Add a tab button at the bottom, then click on the Add tab button corresponding to the Showcase item. Then click on the Showcase tab that appeared in the left sidebar, on your Facebook page, click on the Add a product button and, after completing the form dedicated to the product to be included in the showcase in its entirety, click on the Save button.
If you want to learn more about the solutions I have just mentioned, I recommend that you take a look at the guide on how to sell on Facebook, because it will certainly be useful for you.
How to start an ecommerce on Amazon
Do you want to start an ecommerce business on Amazon? To do this, you must already have an account on the service (if you don’t have one, read the guide where I explain how to create it). Once you have obtained the account, you must decide the type of account to use to sell your products online, among those available.
The Basic account allows you to sell less than 40 products per month and has a commission for each item sold equal to $ 0.99. Alternatively, there is the Pro account which is suitable for sellers who make more than 40 monthly sales. The latter requires a monthly subscription of $ 39 / month. In both cases, additional management fees are also provided, depending on the type of product sold. More info here.
After registering on Amazon (in case you have not already done so), linked to this page, click on the Register now button and, after indicating the information regarding the country in which your company operates and the type of the same, click on the Accept and continue button. Then fill in all the required data in the sections Business information, Seller information, Payment information, More information and Store name and click on the Save and Continue button each time you need to do so. After creating a seller account on Amazon, select the plan that best suits your needs (Basic or Pro), if you have not already done so, and starts selling your products. If you want to learn more about how Amazon works with regards to selling, I suggest you consult the guide in which I explain in detail how to sell on Amazon.
Start a successful ecommerce business
We conclude this guide with some tips on how to start a successful ecommerce business. I am sure that, by trying to follow the “tips” that you find below, you will be able to improve your online sales business.
- Invite users to buy products – try to use some techniques to invite the user to buy your products, perhaps by inserting buttons such as Buy Now on your site! or banners such as Expires in x.x hours or [N] remaining products or FREE Shipping on orders over [N] dollars. I also recommend that you make sure that these call-to-action buttons are always clearly visible.
- Take advantage of email marketing – using services such as MailChimp and CleverReach, you can launch advertising campaigns via email, monitor subscribers to your newsletter, check how many of them click on the links sent and so on. A great way to test the level of satisfaction of your products and, at the same time, advertise your shop.
- Advertise your shop on social networks – since platforms like Facebook and Instagram are used by billions of people every day, why not try using them to advertise your products and give your business more visibility? If you’re not successful on these platforms right now, check out my guide on how to become famous on social media to try and change things for the better.