If you are in need of the right mentorship on how to start and grow an e-commerce business, then you are in the right place. E-commerce business is one of the hottest and fast-growing businesses in use today. It is a globally accepted and operated business. So, it goes beyond your locality and/or country.
Most people and business owners who started this business long ago are smiling to the banks today with millions of Naira. Before we proceed, have you ever thought to yourself the reason behind the massive interest of foreigners in starting businesses? It is because of our huge population, our high buying potential and our high tastes.
Since we have a huge buying crowd and large population, it is only sensible for anyone to want to invest. This should tell you something and that is there is a viable market for e-commerce today.
4 Steps to Starting and Running a Successful e-Commerce Business.
Business Name Registration
Getting a name for your e-commerce business is very important as you will need it for your branding and other things that come with effective business operation. To register a business name, you need to check with the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) website at cac.gov.ng to know if the name that you have in mind is available for you to use. This will help you to avoid the problem of coincidence of business names.
If your perceived business name is already registered by another business or company, then you would choose another business name and register it. By following this route, you would avoid wasting time and funds later in the business.
Develop A Detailed Business Plan
For every starting business, be it an online business, an e-commerce business or any kind of business, you need a business plan. A business plan comprises the objectives, the goals, and the vision of a business. At times people who start an online business like an e-commerce business think that a business plan is not necessary or that it is meant for offline businesses alone.
On the contrary, there is a greater need for a business plan today irrespective of whether you intend to operate an online business or an offline business. Why this is so is that a business plan is the holy grail of every business. It serves as a compass which guides the business in taking basic as well as crucial business decisions. A business plan will help you and your business to achieve its goal and set objectives. It will guide your actions and day-to-day decisions in the business.
Get A Domain Name and Web Hosting Space.
A domain name is the address of your e-commerce website on the internet. Something like “yoursecommercestore.com”, “yoursecommercestore.net”. “yourecommercestore.org”. By the way, .com, .net, and .org are all referred to as Top Level Domain (TLD) extensions. There are country-specific domain extensions too like .ng, .uk, .us.
Also, you need a web-hosting space where you will host the files of your e-commerce site or online store. It is usually advisable that you buy your domain name and hosting from a good company. Also, you should buy both from the same company. Some good companies that you can buy your domain name are Namecheap.com, Siteground.com, and Liquidweb.com.
I had a terrible web hosting experience with Bluehost.com. So, I won’t recommend them to anyone to use.
Getting a domain name and securing a web hosting space is the first step in setting up your e-commerce site.
Create Your Online Store
Your online store is where your business operates from. It is like your business premises or your office on the web. That is where all transactions will be carried out using the internet. To build one, may deploy any of 3 approaches:
Option 1: A Self-Hosted E-commerce Store.
A self-hosted e-commerce store is a store that you create just for your business. You handle the purchase, configuration of your domain and hosting and also the management of the entire site. You can do this by yourself or employ a good web developer to do this for you. Usually, a Content Management System (CMS) like WordPress, Joomla, or Wix is used for this.
Please, never use the free version of these CMS to build your e-commerce store. Your security and that of your customers is at stake here. So, shun free CMS offers and go with the paid packages. The e-commerce business is a serious business. So, pay for the tools to enjoy convenience and full security of your website.
Option 2: Rent a Third-Party Software/Service and pay monthly
Beside self-hosted solutions, you can also use third-party software like Shopify and WooCommerce platforms respectively to set up and manage your e-commerce store. Here, you use the service on a Pay-as-You Use basis. So, you pay monthly, quarterly or yearly to use the service.’
This option is not the best for beginners because there is no certainty that you will make sales at the start despite the huge fees that you pay these third-party e-commerce companies monthly or as you choose to pay.
Option 3: Rent E-commerce Marketplace and Pay Commission on Each Sale That You Make.
There is another dimension to this business besides the ones I mentioned above. In a situation where you lack the resources, the time and the patience to set up your e-commerce portal, you could simply buy a space on already established and recognized e-commerce marketplaces in your country and run your business there.
The good thing is that these platforms would help you with the heavy lifting in the business like the marketing, the security, and the logistics. All you pay them is commission from sales made from your store. That’s all.
Choose and Configure Your Payment Integration
A payment gateway or payment processor is a tool that helps in processing payments in an e-commerce store. It is the fulcrum that holds the major work of an online store. Thankfully, many of them are available today. Some popular and highly-efficient international payment processors in use today are Paga, PayPal and Stripe.
In choosing a payment processor, always put security and speed of processing data first. Remember, the security of your customers’ details is at stake here. So, apply caution at every step of the way.
Stock and Furnish Your E-Commerce Store.
You can sell a product or a service on your e-commerce store. Whichever one that you are selling, ensure that they are properly advertised on your online store with good descriptions and a price tag.
Your store should be easily navigable such that a customer can easily click any item and buy without stress. Make sure that your descriptions are detailed so that your website visitors can easily come to a buying decision.
Most visitors take the time to go through the product descriptions, prices, and product tags to learn about a product. That is why it is necessary to make your products or services description convincing.
Finally, ensure that the check-out and payment process is kept short. Nowadays, people do not want to waste too much time while trying to buy. So, do away with irrelevant steps.
For services, it is mandated that you use clear graphics design to list the services that you offer or render. This will give the visitor ease in choosing from the available services.
Get A Business Address/Location
You may need to get an office apartment to store your physical products or receive clients if you are offering a service. You don’t necessarily need this if you are selling digital, downloadable products which you can easily store online.
If you can’t afford an office space, then you can use your house as your storage and office space. As you make more money in the business, you can rent an office space and leave the house (if need be).
An Easy Alternative to Using Your House for Business
Nowadays, one of the pressing issues online sellers face is that customers want to be sure of their address before making a payment. A virtual office address will help you to get fix this challenge. Many co-working spaces offer a virtual office address. So, you can get one and use it as your office address. You may go there at times to work or simply buy the address alone while working from home.
Is that not a smart move to make? I think it is. You can send your customers package to your virtual office address and ask them to pick it up there. Smart move!
Moreover, you can use the virtual office address given by your workspaces’ address on your business cards, websites, t-shirts, emblems, etc. Also, whenever there is a need for a meeting with any of your clients, you can book host them at your virtual workplace.
Conclusion and Advice
Please, do not allow the name “E-COMMERCE BUSINESS” to intimidate you. It is just a term like every other term that you’ve heard before. Moreover, starting an e-commerce business does not mean you must start as other established brands like Jumia or Konga. You can start small and grow steadily. Only be committed to the business and as a saying goes “Slow and steady wins the race” and in no time you will also stand out and be reckoned in the e-commerce hall of fame.