Ecommerce is one of the hottest industries to be in right now. The global eCommerce market is expected to reach $6.3 trillion by 2023, and businesses of all sizes are looking to earn their piece of that pie.
If you’re thinking about launching an eCommerce brand, know that it is an incredibly challenging but rewarding experience. From building a great website and driving traffic and sales, to nailing your product and branding, there’s a lot to think about and a lot to learn.
But don’t worry, we’re here to help. Read on for a step-by-step guide on how to launch an eCommerce brand from scratch. By the end of the article, you’ll have a clear understanding of what it takes to succeed in this competitive industry and how you can get started!
1) Source Your Product
Before you even think about the logistics of launching an eCommerce store, you need to have a product (or products) to sell. This may seem like an obvious point, but it’s worth emphasizing because this step often takes the longest. It’s best to set the sourcing process in motion as soon as possible, because you may be able to tackle subsequent steps while you wait for inventory to arrive.
When it comes to sourcing products, you have a few options:
- Manufacture your own products: If you have an innovative idea for a product, consider manufacturing it yourself. This gives you complete control over the product development process, but it also requires a significant investment of time and money. You will need to find a reliable manufacturer, handle quality control, and manage the production process.
- Dropship: Dropshipping is a popular choice for eCommerce entrepreneurs because it’s fast, low-risk, and easy to set up. With drop shipping, you partner with a supplier who manufactures and ships products to your customers on your behalf. You never have to handle inventory, which makes it a good option for people with a limited budget. The downside, however, is that off-the-shelf products are more difficult to differentiate on the open market which can lead to stiff competition.
- Private label: Private labeling is similar to drop shipping in that you partner with a supplier to source products. The difference is that you establish an exclusivity agreement enabling you to brand the products as your own. This allows you to build brand recognition and charge a higher price point, but you pay for the privilege to do so.
- Product customization: Working with a manufacturer to customize an existing product is another great middle-ground solution. You get more control over the product than you would if you were dropshipping, but you don’t have to come up with a completely unique product idea. Instead, you can simply modify or improve something the supplier already offers. This takes time, effort, and money to execute but is often far more realistic than developing a product from the ground up.
2) Design Your Brand Identity
Now that you have a product on the way, it’s time to start thinking about how you’re going to present your business to the world. This means creating a strong brand identity that will make you stand out from the competition.
Your brand identity is made up of everything from your name and logo to your color scheme and website design. It should be unique and memorable, but it also needs to be consistent across all of your marketing materials. This can be a challenge if you’re working with multiple designers or agencies, so it’s important to have a clear idea of what you want your brand to look and feel like from the outset.
Here are some key elements to consider as you design your brand identity:
- Name: Your business name is one of the first things people will see, so be sure it is memorable. Shoot for something that is easy to say and spell, and that doesn’t get lost in translation.
- Logo: Your logo is the center of your visual identity. It should convey the personality of your brand and look good in a variety of contexts.
- Color scheme: Colors evoke emotion, so be thoughtful about the palette that you choose. How do you want people to feel when they see your brand? Let this answer dictate your primary color and then choose accent colors that complement it.
- Values: What does your brand stand for? What are your core values? These should be reflected in all aspects of your business, from the products you sell to the way you treat your customers. Be authentic here because people can see right through empty marketing speak.
3) Set Up The Backend
With your product and brand identity in place, it’s time to start setting up the backend of your business. This includes everything from choosing a domain name and hosting provider to integrating payment processing and shipping.
The primary responsibilities at this stage are:
- Buy a domain name
- Set up hosting
- Create branded email addresses
- Select an eCommerce platform
- Install Google Analytics
- Create social media profiles
- Integrate with a shipping provider
4) Build Your Website
Take all of the pieces you’ve put together so far—your product, your brand identity, your backend setup—and use them to build a stunning website that is both visually appealing and easy to use.
In eCommerce, your website can make or break your business. The load time, the user experience, and the trustworthiness of your site are all important factors in whether or not people will complete a purchase.
Fortunately, if you nail the following elements, you’ll be well on your way to building a high-converting website:
- Navigation: Take some time to plan out the structure of your website before getting into the design. Make sure users can navigate to any important page within two to three clicks.
- Design: Your website design should reflect your brand identity. Use colors, fonts, and images that are consistent with the rest of your marketing materials. Start with a “less is more” approach to avoid distracting visitors from your main call to action.
- Calls to action: Include multiple calls to action throughout your website to nudge visitors in the right direction. Make sure your buttons stand out from the rest of the page and feature strong, action-oriented copy.
- Content: Write clear and concise product descriptions that tell people what they need to know without bombarding them with too much information. Use engaging and persuasive language to present your product as a solution to the customer’s problem.
- Visuals: Demonstrate what your product looks like with high-quality photos and videos. Include multiple angles and zoom options so that visitors can get a close-up view of every detail. If the product requires a more detailed explanation, consider using infographic design services to break things down in an easily-digestible, visual format.
- Trust: Build authority and trust by showcasing your brand’s Google reviews and ratings using a responsive Google review widget. This will give visitors the confidence to take that final leap and hit the buy button.
- Mobile-friendliness: More than half of all eCommerce traffic now comes from mobile devices, so this is an area you can’t afford to neglect. Build a fully-responsive website that looks great and functions well on all screen sizes. Pay attention to button sizes, font legibility, and touch targets to make the mobile experience as user-friendly as possible.
5) Create Compelling Content
If attention is the new oil, then content is the modern drilling rig. In order to get noticed online, you need content that is interesting and relevant to your target audience. This will help you attract organic traffic from potential customers and fill your sales funnel with leads.
There are two primary approaches to content production:
Search engine marketing
Use keyword research to create written content that is optimized for search engines. This includes blog posts, product descriptions, and informational web pages. Write for humans first, but be sure to include relevant keywords and phrases throughout your content to help it rank in search results.
Then, build backlinks through HARO and guest posting. These will improve your website’s authority and ability to rank in search results. But be wary of spammy backlinking practices that can do more harm than good. Instead, seek out opportunities that pass valuable link equity to your site.
Social media marketing
Use social media to share images and short videos that showcase your products, your brand, and your lifestyle. This is a great way to connect with potential customers on a more personal level and give them a taste of what it would be like to use your products.
When creating social media content, focus on quality over quantity. A few well-crafted pieces of content with the potential to go viral are far more effective than a feed full of low-quality posts. Look to the influencers on each platform for guidance on what works best. You may find that candid behind-the-scenes videos perform well on TikTok, while funny meme-style images do best on Facebook.
6) Form A Team
Once you get the hang of content marketing, you will likely see a surge in traffic and conversions. At this point, you will need to start forming a team to help you keep up with the demand. But finding talent is always a challenge for small businesses.
Stay up to date on the latest candidate sourcing techniques to ensure you are attracting the most qualified applicants. Use social media, employee referral programs, and job boards to reach a wider pool of potential hires.
And while applications roll in, take the time to carefully review each one. Conduct phone screens and in-person interviews to get a better sense of each candidate’s skill set, personality, and cultural fit.
At the same time, begin to develop an onboarding process. This will help you get new team members up to speed quickly and ensure they are productive from day one. Consider building an internal knowledge base that contains policies, procedures, training materials, and contact information.
7) Analyze, Test, & Iterate
As your business grows, it’s important to continuously analyze your performance and make adjustments where necessary. Website analytics software can help you improve efficiency, optimize your marketing efforts, and drive better results.
To get started, create a system for tracking your progress. This could be as simple as setting up Google Analytics and checking your website traffic, conversion rate, and sales on a weekly basis. Then, begin A/B testing various website changes with Google Optimize to see what works best for your audience.
Look for opportunities to improve your website layout, landing pages, price points, and more. Every experiment will teach you something new about your customers and how they view your offer. These learnings will compound over time, leading to better and better results.
8) Scale Your Ecommerce Brand
Once you have a well-oiled machine, scale your brand with paid media and partnerships. This could be in the form of Google Ads, Facebook Ads, or influencer deals.
Determine what method is most applicable to your eCommerce brand and start running some tests. If people actively search for your product or similar solutions, consider using Google Ads to bid on those keywords.
Or, if your target market is highly engaged on social media, Facebook Ads may be a better solution. You can create lookalike audiences based on your most valuable customers and target them with demonstrative video ads.
Finally, consider expanding your product line, opening up new markets, or investing in automated solutions to help you keep up with the demand. These are all exciting ways to take your business to the next level and continue to reinvent your eCommerce brand.
With a team in place, you should be able to focus your time on strategizing, planning, and executing new initiatives. This is the fun part of scaling your business—watching it reach new heights and taking it to places you never thought possible.
That’s it! Launching an eCommerce brand is simple in theory—execution is another story. Your ability to persevere, take risks, and continue learning will determine your success.
Remember to focus on your customers first and foremost. To serve them well, build a great product, a rock-solid marketing strategy, and a team of A-players. Then, reach even more customers with paid traffic and partnerships.
Launching an eCommerce business is one of many business ideas you can run with as a new entrepreneur. If you can follow this blueprint and avoid the common pitfalls, you will have the foundation for a sustainable and successful eCommerce business. So what are you waiting for? It’s time to build your eCommerce empire!
Daniel Anderson is a marketing expert who writes about entrepreneurship, business, and personal finance. Learn how to launch a business, scale your team, and plan for financial freedom with step-by-step guides at TheMoneyManiac.com.