How to get started with eCommerce as a Small Business Owner?

Prepare to build your online presence from ground zero

Setting up an eCommerce shop must not be difficult. We show you a 7-step guide on how to start an eCommerce business in the US.

Launching an eCommerce for small businesses isn’t easy, but doing it now is more manageable than ever before. If not long ago, online business was a synonym of enormous investment paired with a leap into the unknown; today, this goal is much easier to achieve even by the most modest services providers. This article shares the steps a small owner needs to take to get the cog-wheels spin the right way.

What Is E-commerce Business?

Online commerce is a business that transmits goods, services, and even funds over the internet. It varies in sizes and scopes, starting from modest retailers to leviathans like Amazon or Etsy. In eCommerce, project size is of little importance, which tips the scales towards owners of smaller companies. Everyone with a storefront has a mission, and early start-up missions benefit most from a piece of timely advice. Most new eCommerce vendors seek to avoid repeating someone else’s mistake – another process that is easier done now than ever before.

Setting and growing an online business has proven a gruesome challenge, despite the clear advantages of such a novel market. ECommerce is about employing cutting-edge technology and trusting it to manage multiple vital aspects of your strategy: customer relations, sustainability, predictability, growth, to name a few.

If your local store is people-depends (how everyone synchronizes their collective effort), eCommerce is more about letting AI do the hard work. Some of the most advanced AI techs are no different from running a large crew of brilliant specialists. Free from the physical limitations known in brick-and-mortar stores, eCommerce clients can shop from anywhere. Vendors can reach clients more effectively, and clients can get faster to their products. Everyone involved is reaping the benefits of eCommerce’s incredible flexibility and affordability.  

How to get started with eCommerce for Small Businesses? 

ECommerce business comes with some specifics that set it apart from brick-and-mortar shops. There are similarities as well – let us review some of them: 

Step 1 – Find Your Niche 

  • Research is fundamental 
  • Plan what your e-commerce best offers 
  • Differentiate between marketing for physical and for digital products 
  • Think about the origin of your products
  • Focus on refining your business model 
  • Work on flawless product delivery  
  • Manage your start-up cost 
  • Keep an eye on legal regulations  

These steps are easy to read but challenging and time-consuming to complete. The process will give you a better view of your business intent, especially setting eCommerce goals. The reason for doing this is to find your niche. To keep up, do your competitor research and find the spot where you and your idea fit. 

Step 2 – Business Name Along With a Legal Structure 

  • Choose a relevant and unique name, and pair that with a marketing mascot or symbol
  • The name must reflect your work and not clash with existing brands  
  • Hunt for the best possible domain name
  • Choose your legal structure carefully (general partnership, LLC, and proprietorship) and consider consulting an attorney

Choosing a good domain is essential as choosing a good business name to set the best foundations for your future growth. Both choices are fundamental, since only a few companies undergo a name change and retain a healthy customer base. Additionally, with a mighty domain name from the get-go, you won’t have to learn about the arduous domain change process while preserving SEO ranking. 

Step 3 – Get an EIN 

  • Apply for an EIN (employer identification number) from the IRS (Apply Online)
  • The EIN number is also your official business tax ID 

The third step may seem significantly more concise, but each point is crucial, and their sequential order is, too. 

Step 4 – Permits and Licenses  

After EIN, look for business licenses and permits you might need. Here are some examples of such licenses and permits:

  • Local operating license
  • Professional and trade licenses 
  • Local sales tax permits 
  • Health, safety, and environmental permits 
  • Signage permits 

Permits and licenses are a nuisance but a must. We work in a world driven by data. Without solid documentation, we can quickly get stuck in hard-to-solve bureaucratic issues. Instead, we could have been busy promoting our business. You better always have access to your critical business documents and be ready if something unexpected occurs.  

Step 5 – Choose an E-commerce Platform   

To make life a little easier, go for a popular eCommerce platform. Some of the most commonly used platforms are: 

  • Shopware
  • Shopify 
  • WooCommerce
  • Squarespace
  • Wix
  • etc.

Step 6 – Source Your Products 

After researching Step 1, you must source your products in the second last step. Be sure to also get all the details and documentation on the products as you require them.

  • Put a detailed description of your products on your website 
  • Go through Step 1 once again, this time in meticulous detail  

Step 7 – Spread Your Ecommerce Business 

  • You are ready to run your website and serve 
  • Utilize Google Ads and social media marketing campaigns 
  • Optimize your website for SEO 

Building a solid eCommerce project takes excellent organizational and planning skills. All these are equally important as investing in product management. Today, the value of SEO optimization increases the value of online businesses tremendously. It is best to recognize the importance of clean content early on and build valuable resources that maintain good page ranks.  

Wrapping It All Up  

I compiled these steps to address problems specific to eCommerce for small businesses. It doesn’t mean that some unmentioned trouble won’t knock at your door even if you follow the rules religiously. However, once trouble arrives, having these in mind will make you equipped to produce an informed decision. 

Surviving through a start-up is as unpredictable as life itself. Thanks to these steps, you will indeed negate some of the most formidable roadblocks in eCommerce management. The success of your online project depends primarily on your product management efficiency and the effectiveness of your promotions. 

But before your online store is even sales-ready, please study your audience and maximize your social media marketing efforts. Getting to know your clients is a step that precedes any other planning and determines the core of your strategy.  

Clients give meaning to businesses. Naturally, various providers design their plans tightly around their customers’ needs. Everyone knows what it’s like to be a satisfied customer: we like quality products, discounts, or helpful conversations with sales agents. Being all these things at once (and more) is the minimum requirement for being competition-ready as a newcomer in eCommerce.  

As a young entrepreneur, you may lack the average experience of established providers, but you may use it to your advantage right at the start. Many start-ups focus too much on excelling technologically and undermine the importance of customers. Clients build and shape businesses. This is an excellent insight for early starters who want to grow into established expert sellers with a bright future.   

Author: Dr. Andreas Maier, CEO at CodeCoda Ltd.

CodeCoda is an innovative global eCommerce Solutions, and Advanced Software Development provider. As part of one of the fastest-growing industries worldwide, we help online businesses grow, utilizing best practices in the field, coupled with a multi-channel approach and we are focused on delivering supreme customer experience.  We were founded by IT Veterans who embedded customer dedication and technical excellence in our mentality and all the products and solutions we create. With such unique knowledge and expertise at our hands, we steer commerce growth strategies through measured consulting and outstanding design and development.