A Guide for Starting an E-Commerce Business

E-commerce has grown wildly over the past decade and is set to continue growing albeit at a slower rate. Whether you are toying with the idea of starting an e-commerce business as a side business or as a main source of income, you have the opportunity to sell your products and services to a global audience and take advantage of the connectivity that the internet provides.

E-commerce has many benefits over traditional bricks and mortar stores. The most attractive features of an e-commerce store are that they are quick and easy to start up with many e-commerce platforms providing ready-made templates to create stores within a few clicks. Plus, they are inexpensive to start and avoid large upfront investments, and the best personal loans can be used to finance a venture.

However, launching an e-commerce store is not just as simple as creating a website to display your business’s offerings, to see significant results you need to carefully manage your online presence and be strategic. After all, while you are in the global marketplace, you are competing against a larger number of businesses.
Here’s a guide to helping your e-commerce business be successful, from your initial concept through to maintaining and growing your market position.

Identify a niche

Many e-commerce businesses fail because they don’t address the specific needs of the consumer: they have failed to identify what consumers want. Think about when you are looking for a product online and how the search terms that you use. If you are looking for a specific product or service, you enter very clear terms into the search engine and are more likely to buy from a specialist outfit rather than a generic store. By focusing on a niche, you will be able to attract consumers who are actively seeking your products or services, by being more specific.
The benefits of developing a niche e-commerce store include:

  • Heightened ability to build a consistent and relevant brand
  • Increased customer loyalty
  • Perceived as an expert
  • Focused marketing

Identify your target customers

Who are you going to be selling to? High growth and high-profit businesses are those who have clearly defined who their target customers are. If you are aiming to attract diverse visitors to your e-commerce store you risk diluting the power of your marketing.

Researching your target customers enables you to understand their priorities and perspectives and what fuels their purchasing decisions. This research helps you to anticipate their needs and will help you to identify how to develop a brand that appeals to them specifically – the products that you sell, the language you use to resonate with them, where they hang out online, their demographic, their likes and interests.

Develop your brand identity

Now that you have identified niche products and services to sell, and who your customers are, you can develop a brand to represent your business that is relevant to your business and customers alike. Your brand development can be broken down into three stages:

1. Align your brand strategy with your business objectives.

You need to have a clear and defined mission statement that supports your business objectives and gives your brand direction. This means that you can create a consistent brand message and tone of voice that consumers will easily be able to identify and relate to. Understand where you want you to take your business and how your brand will help you to reach your goals.

2. Develop the tools to communicate your brand, i.e. business name, logo and taglines

When researching your e-commerce store name, you need to think about how it will be received now but also during the lifecycle of your business. The name of your business needs to fulfill several criteria:

  • It needs to be brand relevant: reflecting the needs of your customers and the brand’s personality.
  • It needs to be unique to avoid confusion with other stores.
  • It needs to be easy to spell.
  • It needs to be memorable.
  • It needs to be snappy.

Tip: Before you finalize your decision, you need to make sure that the domain name is available.

Your logo and website need to be visually consistent and support your brand identity. Every decision that you make needs to be governed by your brand: the typography, color palette and even the ads that you display on your website via AdSense.

3. Strengthening your brand – SEO, social media, and ensuring you meet consumer expectations.

The digital representation of your brand should be consistent across all the different platforms that you use to market your business: Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook or LinkedIn, all should share the same branding and style of representation.

Every element of your e-commerce store should be geared towards heightening the user experience and ensuring that it ranks highly in the search engine results pages. The good news is that search engines reward websites that are focused on user experience.


The greatest shortcoming of e-commerce stores is that consumers are unable to touch and feel the products that you are selling, however, if you see your business through your consumer’s eyes, you’ll be able to lessen the impact of this limitation and use it to boost your e-commerce SEO. Detailed and keyword-rich product descriptions, SEO-friendly labeled images, and FAQ provides information to the consumers but also the search engine bots.

Social Media

Create shareable relatable content for publishing on your social media platforms to further engage consumers with your brand and further the reach of your business’s visibility. The more that you interact with customers, the more brand loyal they become.

Deliver what you promise

An e-commerce store relies on consumers trusting that you are going to deliver what you have said that you will online. It’s a gamble for them, and so to build trust and develop a good reputation, you must be able to meet customers expectations. If you receive negative feedback, don’t ignore it. Use it as an opportunity to showcase your customer care and respond appropriately.

Your e-commerce store will continually evolve as you learn more about your customers and technological innovations occur. It is important that you consistently review the metrics of your website so that you can respond to market changes and trends, but also the frequent algorithm updates that search engines use to rank your website. Good luck!