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Launch Your Online Business in Just 7 Days

Every step you take when starting in ecommerce is crucial.


For example, the ecommerce platform you pick can either make or break your online business.


That’s why you need this roadmap to establish your successful ecommerce store.


In this post, you’ll learn how to pick a niche, select a platform to house your store, and everything in between.


Let’s dive in so you can start building your dream ecommerce business today.

1. How to set up your own ecommerce business

The secret to establishing a profitable online store is to focus on a niche.


Don’t try and sell everything because that’s what the most established brands are already known for.


Aim to be known for a very specific niche, product, or service.


In the same way, your target audience should be a niche market so you only address a specific group of people.


What’s more, to create awareness for your business, branding becomes very crucial.


With that in mind, let’s take a closer look at each of these aspects of establishing an ecommerce store.

1.1. Pick your niche and research it

It’s unlikely that, as a small business owner and startup, you’ll have the budget to offer hundreds of products in every industry available.


Not to mention having the technical know-how to manage all that.


Therefore, the best way to start an ecommerce business is to focus on building a store that can stand out in the already crowded online space.


Niche-ing down is the first ingredient for such a successful online business.


So what is a niche anyway?

Definition of a niche

Focusing on a niche in your online business serves to differentiate your e-store from the competition.


What’s more, niche-ing down allows you to excel in your area by focusing on just one sector rather than tens or hundreds.


Let’s take a couple of examples:

  • Example 1 Within the women’s clothing broad market, an example of a niche is women’s sleepwear. A more specific niche can be sleepwear for plus-sized women
  • Example 2 — The pet industry is an example of a booming broad market in the US. If you’re interested in this, you can focus on just dogs. And to get even more granular, go for only organic dog food
Source: ArgosPet.com

Source: ArgosPet.com

Now that you know what a niche is, how do you pick one?

1. Brainstorm and list some niche ideas

A good place to begin is by identifying your passions, interests, and/or skills. Answer the following questions to jumpstart your brainstorming:

  • What activities do you enjoy engaging in?
  • What topics do friends and family ask for your advice on?
  • What club do you belong to?
  • What magazines do you enjoy reading?
  • What topics are you interested in learning lately?
  • What skills do you have?
  • What kind of jobs have you ever done?

Now note down all the answers to these questions.


This exercise can generate about 10 niche ideas to start an ecommerce business.

2. Do keyword research

Research each of the ideas you’ve listed to find out if there’s a market — basic keyword research will do.


Begin by brainstorming some search terms related to each niche.


Plug them into a keyword tool (e.g. KWFinder) and note down the suggested words and phrases.

Source: KWFinder.com

Source: KWFinder.com

Aim for keywords with high search volume (1,000 - 10,000 searches per month is the sweet spot) and low to medium competition.


These parameters indicate there’s demand in that particular niche.

3. Research the competition

Having narrowed down your niche ideas to the ones with in-demand keywords, it’s time to check out potential competitors.


Take some of the keywords, one at a time, and do a Google search.


Check out the websites that appear on page 1 of Google’s SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages).


Here’s how to analyze your findings:

  • Avoid niches with too many well-known brands ranking for the keywords
  • If no ecommerce sites are ranking for the keywords, there’s probably little chance of your making money in this niche
  • If there are some sites ranking(perhaps low quality or small online stores), then that’s a sign there’s a market for the niche, and the competition is not too stiff

Now you have your niche selected. On to the next step.

1.2. Identify your product and target market

1.2.1. Product

Before choosing a product or set of products, remember, the more specific you are, the better.


Offering a unique product or service is more beneficial than offering a wide range of generic items.


Selling a niche product means your business is able to provide specialized offerings or solutions for a particular set of customers in a way that a generalized store cannot.


This can make up your unique selling proposition (USP) and increase your chances of success.


So how do you choose the right product for your store? Here are a few ideas:

  • Check out your competition — Identifying your competitors’ best-selling products can give you insight into what’s in demand
  • Look into Facebook groups — Note what your potential customers are talking about and any products they are interacting with often
  • Browse social selling sites for ideas — Social sites like Instagram, Etsy, and Pinterest are great sources of unique and trendy product ideas

Once you have a list of a few niche-specific product ideas, search for each of them on Google Trends.


Go with the products that have a significantly higher search volume.

1.2.2. Target market

Source: LocaliQ.com

Source: LocaliQ.com

A target market is a group of people who are most likely to benefit from and who buy your product.


Defining your business’s target audience will help you fine-tune your marketing pitch and how to brand yourself to attract a specific group of consumers.


Here’s how to go about defining your target market:

  • Analyze your product’s benefits Brainstorm and write down a list of people with a need that can be met by your product’s benefit
  • Check out your competitors Who are their current customers? As earlier mentioned, the goal is not to copy-paste and target the exact same market but to get ideas
  • Analyze specific demographics Determine who can most benefit from your product and consider people with purchasing power

You can choose to create your own products, but that requires you to come up with an original product idea.


If that isn’t your speed, consider drop shipping or a print-on-demand business.

1.3. Register your ecommerce business and brand name

Register your ecommerce business and brand name

Now let's look at the legal requirements you need to fulfill to start an ecommerce business.


Business registration is mandatory before you actually start trading, so begin by choosing a business structure for your e-store.


Here are the ecommerce business model options available:

  • Sole proprietorship — This structure is for self-employed business people
  • Limited Liability Company (LLC) — This is a company where you are the only owner. You can seek the services of LLC services to handle the registration process as you focus on building your store
  • Limited Liability Partnership (LLP) — If you have a business partner and want to register a company, then this is it
  • Corporation (C corporation or S corporation) — This is a company owned by shareholders

Ideally, setting up an ecommerce company (LLC, LLP, or Corp) is the best route since it protects you and your personal finances in case of any business losses or other liabilities.


The following are the basic things you’ll need to do to register your business:

  • Choose a business name
  • Register the business with your state
  • Get an EIN
  • Open a business bank account
  • Obtain the appropriate business license (for an LLC, LLP, or a corporation)
  • Get any required permits

Whichever business structure you go with, ensure you meet all laws applicable to your business — locally or internationally.


Finally, always pay the required taxes for your business when the time comes.


Educate yourself about ecommerce sales tax or consult a CPA, attorney, or tax professional to ensure you’re being tax compliant.

1.3.1. Branding

After registering your business, the next thing on any small business owner’s to-do list is branding.


This requires you to choose:

  • A brand name — Choose a name that’s unique but simple
  • A slogan — Your slogan should be short and memorable
  • Your business logo — Go for a relevant and simple design that customers can remember
  • Your brand colors — Pick one color or a set of colors to use on all your visual branding, including the logo, website design, marketing materials, and product packaging

1.4. Set up your ecommerce store with the right platform

Source: WiseMerchant.com

To set up your online store and launch your business, you’ll need an ecommerce platform — online software or space that will house your online store.


From our experience, the following are the must-haves for an ideal ecommerce platform (feel free to create your own list according to your business needs):

  • Excellent loading speed
  • Sufficient bandwidth and storage
  • Optimal SEO performance
  • Integration and API
  • Customer support via email, phone, or live chat
  • Great user experience (UX)
  • Unlimited product catalog
  • 1-click selling

Let’s take a look at some of the top ecommerce platforms available:

1.4.1. Systeme.io

systeme.io’s homepage

systeme.io’s homepage

You’ve heard us say this before, and we’ll say it again (because it’s true) — systeme.io has all the tools you need to grow your online business.


Our unlimited storage and bandwidth allow you to list and sell an unlimited number of physical and digital products.


What’s more, systeme.io offers several other features you can use to build and scale your online business:

  • Website builder Our drag-and-drop website builder simplifies creating your online store, managing orders, shipping products, and more. You don’t need to know about coding
  • Sales funnels Building sales funnels help drive traffic to your store and improve your ecommerce conversion rates
  • Email marketing With ecommerce email marketing you can boost website traffic. This is also one of the best ways to generate leads for your online store and drive sales
  • Online courses Suppose you’ve built an ecommerce business around selling digital products, online courses would be a great addition to your product catalog
  • Evergreen webinars — You can use webinars to upsell your existing customers or inform them about new products
  • Business automation Use our automation software to reduce manual, repetitive work on your site
  • Blogging — You can create blogs to educate your audience and seize the opportunity to leverage SEO features, increasing your website’s visibility
  • Affiliate program management An affiliate program allows you to get influencers, bloggers, and other publishers to promote your products to their audience

Systeme.io is one of the most affordable tools you'll ever come across and can be adapted to suit a brick-and-mortar business too if that’s what you’re into.


Try our affordable monthly membership that starts for free and will never exceed $97/month.

1.4.2. BigCommerce

BigCommerce’s home page

BigCommerce’s home page

BigCommerce has several of the most important features you need to set up and grow your online business.


These include:

  • Unlimited storage so you can list as many products as you wish
  • Unlimited bandwidth to smoothly run your small to medium-sized online store
  • Great customer service via phone, live chat, and email
  • Built-in blog features and SEO performance for effective content marketing

This ecommerce software offers 3 plans which cost: $29.95, $79.95, and $299.95.


On the downside, UX with BigCommerce may not be the best since they offer only 2 themes which you can customize to 7 different variations.


This limits your options of how you’d like your store to appear.


BigCommerce also has no 1-click selling.

1.4.3. Shopify

Shopify’s landing page

Shopify’s landing page

Shopify comes ready as a fully hosted ecommerce platform with the following beneficial features:

  • Easy integration that’s ideal for creating dropshipping stores
  • Unlimited storage and bandwidth for the efficient running of your store
  • Drag-and-drop interface for easy setting up

On the flip side, Shopify has a few shortcomings:

  • Weak SEO performance makes it hard to rank higher on SERPs
  • Expensive plugins hence increasing your startup costs
  • A limited number of free store themes hence limiting customization

Shopify’s pricing plans include:

  • Basic Shopify ― $29/month
  • Shopify ― $79/month
  • Advanced Shopify ― $299/month

2. 3 tips to make your ecommerce business successful

tips to make your ecommerce business successful

The most important aspect of selling online (and even offline) is closing sales.


The more sales you get, the more revenue you generate.


To increase your sales work on these 3 vital areas:

  • Driving traffic to your website/ online store
  • Tracking crucial ecommerce KPIs
  • Optimizing the most important pages of your site

Let’s expound on each of these 3 areas.

2.1. Choose a traffic source for your ecommerce business

People won’t automatically come to your business just because you’ve built it.


You need to actively create awareness of your ecommerce brand and attract your target audience to your store.


Here are 4 traffic sources that can increase visitors to your pages:

2.1.1. Social media

Yes, social media is for socializing, but you can also use it to drive traffic to your own online store.

Source: DataReportal.com

With a whopping 4.55 billion people worldwide present on social media platforms, this is one of the best traffic sources you can tap into.


And the best part is that it’s absolutely free (unless you want to go for paid ads, which we’ll talk about later on in this post).


Here are a few tips to successfully carry out social media marketing:

  • Focus on the platform where your audience mostly hangout
  • Have a clear and authentic brand voice
  • Set up automated responses to social media messages
  • Choose a content schedule and post consistently

2.1.2. Content marketing

Content is the backbone of social media marketing and Search Engine Optimization (SEO).

Content marketing

This is where you use highly-optimized content to rank your website higher on the SERPs.


Consequently, you drive more organic traffic to your ecommerce website.


The following are different types of content you can create free of charge and use to market your small ecommerce business:

  • Blog posts
  • Social media posts
  • Videos
  • Ebooks
  • Images
  • Podcasts

Remember, for effective content marketing, focus on offering free, valuable information and educating your audience.


Once you’ve created one type of content, you can, later on, repurpose it and publish it on other platforms.


For example, you can turn a blog post on your website into a video and upload it on YouTube.

2.1.3. Email marketing

Example of systeme.io’s email marketing

Example of systeme.io’s email marketing

Properly done email marketing not only helps drive traffic to your site but also offers a huge return on investment (ROI).


Marketers have reported getting the highest ROI through this channel — about $42 for every $1 spent on email marketing.


When you start an ecommerce business, how do you drive traffic to it through email marketing?

  • Create lead nurturing campaigns
  • Create email sequences to sell your offers
  • Re-engage subscribers with win-back emails
  • Gather testimonials for social proof

All in all, learn how to set up a successful email marketing strategy, and your business will thank you for it.

2.1.4. Paid advertising

Inside a Google Adwords account

Inside a Google Adwords account

Ecommerce paid advertising is a marketing strategy where you pay to display your brand’s messages on search engines, social media, or publishing sites to sell your product or service.


When properly done, this strategy can help you target a specific group of people that will benefit from your offer.


What you pay for is placement, impressions, and/or clicks on the ad to your ecommerce store.


The following are some of the commonly known paid ads:

  • Paid search ads — These appear at the top of SERPs
  • Display ads — Banner ads displayed on websites, and apps
  • Paid social media ads — These are different ad types displayed on social media platforms like Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, and YouTube
  • Newsletter sponsorship — This is a paid ad on an email newsletter from a website, publisher, or influencer

2.2. Track crucial ecommerce KPIs to drive growth

Source: GettingPeopleRight.com

The second tip to make your online business successful is tracking crucial ecommerce key performance indicators (KPIs).


KPIs show how your business performs against your primary objectives.


They help your online business become organized since you can track performance and progress.


Your ecommerce business will progressively improve if you can interpret the data, draw useful insights, and make necessary changes or adjustments to your online store.


What are the vital KPIs for an online business that you should be tracking?

2.2.1. Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC)

As the name suggests, this is the cost of landing one customer.


If the cost of acquiring one customer is greater than your customer value, you’re making a loss.


To calculate CAC, divide the monthly expenses by the number of customers acquired.


You can improve CAC by:

  • Improving your website copy and experience
  • Improving SEO
  • Optimizing customer experience

2.2.2. Average Order Value (AOV)

This indicates the average amount of money you make per order on your ecommerce store.


If the value is high, you’re generating good revenue. AOV is important because it helps you understand customer buying patterns and trends.


Here’s how you can improve AOV:

  • Bundle several products into a single item
  • Offer upsells strategically
  • Optimize your site to encourage users to buy more

2.2.3. Shopping cart abandonment rate

Source: Amazon.com

Source: Amazon.com

This metric shows the number of people that abandon the cart after placing some items.


To increase your revenue and conversion, you need fewer cart abandonments.


Retargeting such customers can help recapture those lost sales.


Here are more ways to reduce the shopping cart abandonment rate:

  • Include positive reviews to improve your credibility
  • Outline all costs upfront
  • Offer free shipping
  • Ensure a fast page loading speed
  • Offer several payment options

2.2.4. Ecommerce conversion rate

Conversion rate = number of conversions out of the total number of visitors

Source: Hotjar.com

This is the percentage of your e-store visitors that become customers. You should always keep it high.


If you have high conversion rates, you won’t have to spend much on customer acquisition.

It's a critical metric because it determines your revenue.


How can you improve your ecommerce conversion rate?

  • Identify user pain points
  • Use analytics tools to fix any technical issues
  • Assign each page one job

2.2.5. Lifetime Value of the customer (LTV)

Do you know that acquiring a new customer for your store can cost up to 5X more than retaining an existing one?


That’s why it’s important to always put effort into retaining your customers.


Here’s how to calculate the lifetime value of the customer:

  • Your brand's AOV
  • The average number of times the customer buys per year
  • Average customer retention times in months or years

2.2.6. Gross profit margin

You got into business in order to make money, right?


If you’re not making a profit, you're not in business.


Here’s how to calculate gross profit margin:


Gross Profit Margin = (Revenue – Cost of Goods Sold) / Revenue x 100

2.3. Optimize the most important pages of your online business

The final tip for succeeding in your online business is regular page optimization.


You need to have higher conversion rates at every step of the customer’s journey towards making a purchase.


These are some of the most crucial pages for any ecommerce business:

  • The landing pages
  • The home page
  • The content pages
  • The shopping cart

You need to optimize these pages in order to experience higher ecommerce conversion rates.


You can use these tips to optimize your pages:

  • Landing pages — Maintain focus on a single task and allow for easy navigation
  • Home page — Focus on SEO optimization, feature your best products, keep the page simple and uncluttered, and include a search box
  • Content pages — Present content that answers pertinent customer questions, avoids industry jargon, and includes SEO elements
  • Shopping cart — Use high-quality product images and videos, present a clear CTA (call to action), and use 1-click checkouts

As long as you monitor and regularly optimize your online store, your online business will take off and scale tremendously.

3. FAQs about starting an ecommerce business

Here are a few of the most common questions that other aspiring online business owners in the ecommerce sector ask:

3.1. How do I start an ecommerce business without money?

Starting any business without money is difficult, but there are ways you can manage it:

  • Try dropshipping — In this case, you won’t need money to buy inventory since all the products are provided by a third-party vendor
  • Use a free ecommerce platform A great example is our very own systeme.io. With the Free plan, you can set up a store, do email marketing, and access many other useful features

Eventually, once your business will take off and start bringing in some profit, you can hire people or change platforms to help you scale further.

3.2. What are the 4 types of ecommerce businesses?

Source: Cloudways.com

Source: Cloudways.com

The 4 types of ecommerce businesses are:

1. B2C (business to consumer) — B2C businesses are the most common. They sell to the end-user. As such, B2C businesses spend less on marketing. Even so, they have few recurring orders.

2. B2B (business to business) — B2B is a transaction conducted between one business and another. Although the buyer could be the end-user, they often sell it to consumers.

B2B is characterized by longer sales cycles, higher-order value, and recurring sales.

3. C2B (consumer to business) — C2B businesses allow consumers to sell goods and services to companies.

An example of C2B you may be familiar with is affiliate marketing. Another great example of this model is Upwork.

4. C2C (consumer to consumer) — C2C allows consumers to trade with each other, especially across online platforms. Examples of C2C sites include Craiglist, Etsy, and eBay.

3.3. How do I make my ecommerce website popular?

To make your ecommerce website popular, your brand needs to gain more visibility.


Engage with your audience more on social media platforms, optimize your content marketing, and boost SEO efforts.


Moreover, leverage the power of email marketing and use paid advertising, if you have a budget for that.

4. Conclusion

Building your own ecommerce business is as exciting as it is challenging.


You will have to adapt and adjust quite quickly once you get into the marketing world.


The process of sorting out legal documents, product selection, running an online store, and ensuring your customers are aware and satisfied with your product can seem like a very involved process, but it’s rewarding all the same.


If you really want to know, we think systeme.io is your best bet ― we offer you by far the most features for the best price.


This will help to relieve some of the pressures of setting up your ecommerce business.


Give our free version a go if you’re not sure!


Then, use this guide to help you build the perfect product and store to set out on your journey as an entrepreneur and new business owner.

Other posts about ecommerce:

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