Starting an ecommerce business is hard work and demands many steps and decisions that need to come together at the right time.
To help, we’ve put together a comprehensive blueprint for starting a business, compiled from Shopify’s most popular content. These blog posts, guides, and videos have been organized based on the most important tasks you’ll face when researching, launching, and growing a profitable ecommerce business.
I. Choosing a Product
Finding a product to sell
The first step to building an ecommerce business is to know what products you want to sell direct to consumer. This is often the most challenging part of starting a new online business. In this section, we’ll highlight strategies you can use to find product opportunities, explore the best places to look for product ideas, and finally, we’ll look at trending products to consider.
- Find products to sell with Oberlo
- 12 Strategies for Finding Your First Product
- 17 Places to Look for Profitable Product Ideas
- 10 In-Demand Products That Are Trending Right Now
- 7 Online Business Ideas You Can Start from Home
Evaluating your idea
Once you have a product idea in mind, how do you know if it will sell? In this section, we’ll cover a few approaches that active entrepreneurs have used to validate their product ideas and the potential market.
- How to Validate Your Product Ideas
- The 16-Step Checklist to Evaluating Your Product
Obtaining your product
After landing on a strong product idea, your next step is to figure out where and how you’re going to obtain your products. The next two posts will cover the various methods for acquiring your products, along with the pros and cons of each model.
II. Research and Prepare
Research your competition
You’ve found your product, evaluated the potential, and sourced your supplier. You’re now ready to write your business plan, but before you get into that, you’ll need to thoroughly research your competition so you know what you’re up against and how you can differentiate your business.
- How to Conduct a Competitive Analysis
Writing a business plan
With your competitive research complete, it’s the perfect time to write your business plan. A business plan will be your roadmap that helps bring your ideas and thoughts together. A business plan is vital in determining what to prioritize and how to effectively reach new customers.
- A Detailed Guide to Writing a Useful Business Plan
- Business Plan Template: A Framework to Streamline Your Next Business Plan
III. Setting Up Your Business
Naming your business
Aside from finding an actual product to sell online, another challenging decision is determining your business or brand name and choosing an appropriate and available domain name. These blog posts will help you tackle these important tasks.
- What Should I Name My Online Store?
- Choosing a Brand Name: 10 Tools & 5 Brainstorming Strategies
Creating a logo
Once you’ve selected a memorable name and registered a corresponding domain, it’s time to craft a simple logo. In these resources, we’ll show you several options for creating a great logo for your new business.
- Hatchful: A simple logo maker by Shopify
- 5 Easy to Use Online Logo Makers to Design Your Brand
Understanding search engine optimization (SEO)
You’re almost ready to begin building your online store. However, before you jump into it, you should understand the basics of search engine optimization so that you can properly structure your site and pages for Google and other search engines.
- The Beginner’s Guide to Ecommerce SEO
- What Can I Do to Help My Shopify Store Rank in Search Engines?
- Keyword Research for Ecommerce from the Ground Up
Building your store
With a better understanding of search engines, it’s time to build out your store. There are many crucial elements to consider. Below we’ve listed our essential reads to help you build high-converting product pages, write captivating product descriptions, shoot beautiful product photography, choose your ecommerce color palette, and much more.
- 11 Experts Share How to Optimize Your Product Pages
- How to Write Product Descriptions that Sell
- The Ultimate DIY Guide to Product Photography
- Customizing Your Shopify Theme: Using Images, Colors, and Fonts
- Must-Know Tips for Optimizing Your Images
Don’t forget, if you run into any problems getting your store set up, you can always hire help from Shopify Experts.
Choosing your sales channels
One of the best ways to reach new customers is to choose sales channels where they already shop. The right mix of sales channels will depend on your products and your target customers, but there are a number of great options that can complement and support your self-hosted store.
- Etsy and Shopify: How Three Makers Sell on Both
- Selling on eBay: How One Business Finds New Customers
- This Business Generates 76.8% of Orders Selling on Amazon with Shopify
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IV. Preparing to Launch
As you prepare for the launch of your new business, there are several shipping and fulfillment elements you need to prepare for. In this section, we’ve curated a few comprehensive guides on how to determine your shipping strategy.
- The Beginner’s Guide to Shipping and Fulfillment
- International Shipping: Everything You Need to Know
- How Do I Price and Implement a Strategy to Handle Returns?
- How to Reduce Shipping Costs as a Small Ecommerce Store
It’s also a good idea to define your key performance indicators upfront so once you launch, you know what to measures of success to track.
- 67 Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) for Ecommerce
As a final checklist, this post covers the ten essential things you need to do before launch.
- The Essential Shopify Store Launch Checklist
V. Post Launch
Acquiring your first customer
Now that you’ve launched, the hard work of marketing your products begins. While many new store owners should consider selling their physical products in person, the rest of digital marketing rests on doing one thing well: driving targeted traffic. Next, we’ll share a variety of marketing tactics that will help you in your first months.
- Marketing Checklist: How to Get Your First Sale in 30 Days
- The Beginner’s Guide to Getting More High Quality Traffic
Marketing your store
You’re well on your way and now likely have a few sales under your belt. It’s time to get serious and focused. The following posts will help you zero in on your top-performing marketing tactics for driving traffic and converting that traffic to sales.
Email marketing essentials
- Email Marketing 101: How to Build Your List, Send Effective Campaigns, and Track Results
- 7 Email Campaigns Every Ecommerce Store Should Run
- How to Write an Effective Welcome Email
- Teardown: 60 Days of Emails from a Fast-Growing Ecommerce Brand
Driving traffic from social
- How to Create a Social Media Marketing Strategy
- How to Get More Followers on Instagram: A Guide for Businesses
- Pinterest Marketing 101: Why You’ll Need a New Playbook to Win
- How to Start a YouTube Channel for Your Business
- 7 Common Facebook Advertising Mistakes (And How to Fix Them)
Optimizing for higher conversions
- The Complete Guide to A/B Testing (Tips from Google, HubSpot, and Shopify)
- How to Find and Plug the Leaks in Your Conversion Funnels
- Drive More Sales and Revenue with Targeted Live Chat
- 19 Experts Share How to Increase Revenue Without Increasing Traffic
- 9 Ways to Earn Customer Trust When You Have Zero Sales
Using analytics to uncover insights
- The Beginner’s Guide to Analyzing Shopify Reports and Analytics
- What Basic Ecommerce Metrics Should I Focus On First?
- 5 Google Analytics Segments You Can Use to Increase Revenue
- 9 Google Analytics Custom Reports by the Experts
A blueprint is just the beginning
Building your own ecommerce business is as exciting as it is challenging. At a rapid pace you’ll learn a ton about choosing a product, evaluating its viability, figuring out how to get it produced, building an online store, and marketing and selling to new customers. The process can feel like you’re solving a head-scratcher of a puzzle, but it’s rewarding all the same.
We hope following this resource roundup helps provide you with a clearer roadmap. As always, the best advice anyone can give is to just get started, and to enjoy yourself along the way.
Frequently asked questions about ecommerce
How do I build an ecommerce business?
Research what products you’d like to sell or can source to sell, select your business name, register your business with the government, obtain permits and licenses, choose an eCommerce platform and create your website, load your products onto the site, launch your brand and you’re good to go! But have an eCommerce marketing plan ready to be successful.
Is ecommerce profitable?
The eCommerce industry is competitive. If you strategise right and know what the market wants, eCommerce can be very profitable. It also depends on the type of products you sell and what business model you’re running on.
Is it hard to start an ecommerce business?
Starting an eCommerce business is easy with platforms like Shopify enabling brands to go online in just a few weeks. But starting a brand means consistent hard work and continual market research to improve your business blueprint. So make sure you have read all our guides on how to start an online business before you set up a store.
What are the different types of ecommerce?
There are four traditional business models or types in ecommerce. This includes B2C (Business-to-Consumer), B2B (Business-to-Business), C2B (Consumer-to-Business) and C2C (Consumer-to-Consumer). You may also commonly hear the term D2C, which simply is similar to B2C, wherein the business takes the products directly to the consumer.