With the on-going lockdown, it has become imperative to consider eCommerce more than ever before. It is the most potent way to do business despite the restrictions on free movement. It is funny how I have talked about this extensively even from before COVID-19 was anywhere in sight. It must ironic for most people who have often thought eCommerce is for a select few. I even recall pointing out that the richest person on this earth is an eCommerce titan – Jeff Bezos. I do appreciate that most people might not be technologically inclined or endowed. This is often the basis for which many people trivialize certain things just like eCommerce in this case. However, there is such a thing as outsourcing so you cannot be limited. Anyways, in this article, I will take you through how to start an eCommerce business. Note that I am not necessarily looking at taking an existing business online. I am focusing on actually starting a business online.
Starting or running a business broadly involves goods or services. Your product can either be goods, services or a cross of the two. We must talk about this because it has far-reaching bearings on starting and ultimately running your eCommerce business. Operationally it can be somehow easier (even cheaper) to conduct an e-commerce business involving services. Dealing with goods necessitates a spectrum of logistical issues that can be very costly and demanding to administer.
For instance, you want to start an eCommerce business where you receive orders for cakes online. You will need to ensure that your logistical framework for sourcing ingredients and also for making deliveries is watertight. Remember, the success of an eCommerce business involving goods is heavily premised on the efficient processing of orders and timely deliveries. The story is however different for service-based businesses.
Take for instance a graphic design services eCommerce business. You can receive requests and work on them up till you deliver the finished product wholly online. There are virtually no logistical matters to muse on in rolling out your business. I am sure you have gotten how important it is to know that dealing with goods or services entails different experiences in starting and running an eCommerce business.
Now that I have discussed that let me point out some key requirements. You are going to need either or both of two things namely, a mobile app or a website (or web app). Whichever platform you chose it must be well-built to provide an interface with customers. Customers should easily be able to make requests or place orders and to cite any issues of concern. There must also be a payment portal or at least a clear guideline on how to make payments in a hassle-free manner. What you are offering in terms of your products must also be comprehensively laid out on that platform. It should be as good as a one-stop destination for everything about your eCommerce business.
You do not need to be worried if you are not tech-savvy enough to build such a platform yourself. There are various professional service providers in that regard. To augment that platform you will need social media accounts that you will use to drive traffic to that platform. Leverage on WhatsApp just like what Fresh In A Box has done. You must bear in mind that now everyone has easy access to the internet so think of ways to circumvent that and still tap into that demographic. I like to even think that the majority of your prospective customers might not even be consistently available online (i.e. the web).
The beauty of an eCommerce business is that you can even run it solo. It just depends on what your sole focus is, be it goods or services. You do not need much in terms of human resources. No wonder why I earlier on said it is relatively easier to start a service-based eCommerce business. The moment goods are involved, in the majority of cases, more hands-on-deck will be needed. The other advantage is that you can outsource as opposed to employing people full-time. For instance, even if it involves goods you can outsource the delivery service as opposed to having employees in-house for that. Use your discretion to see how best you can keep human resources to a minimum.
Your financial needs will boil down to whether it is goods or services involved. Operational costs for a goods-based eCommerce business are somewhat higher than for a service-based one. This is relative anyway as contexts might differ. Either way some of the significant startup costs will stem from having a professional eCommerce site developed. This is something you cannot take lightly because it will be the spine of your business. Invest heavily (but smartly) in ensuring you have a top-notch site developed. Other running costs will emanate from internet connectivity which will be imperative given that you will have to be online virtually all the time.
The market is broad, diverse and inexhaustible. It spans the whole country and goes beyond. Learning from the Fresh In A Box example, you can see that tapping into the diaspora is a jackpot. If you do a thorough job in publicising the business online you will get customer inflows no doubt. Social media platforms should your mining field and make sure you are highly interactive because people love that.
So that is it about starting an eCommerce business – it is a hit thing especially from here on out. I would encourage you to do market research and feasibility studies to see which would be lucrative for you. I mean a goods-based or service-based eCommerce business? Sometimes it will be by default given the skillset or access and connections you have. All the best!