Five tips to start an ecommerce business

If you are in search of a side hustle or need a change in career, this blog contains five top tips for starting your own successful ecommerce business. 

1. Determine what you want to sell 

You first need to decide on a product or service you want to sell. Start by doing some research to see what shoppers are looking for – you need to sell something that shoppers want and will keep coming back for. In general, the choice of product is usually influenced by two factors. Firstly, how easily available the product is (unless of course you are making the products yourself) and secondly, where the product is coming from, and whether you can rely on your  supplier. Also, consider the size of the items you’ll be selling, as smaller, lighter items will incur lower costs for shipping and warehousing. 

The bottom line is you need to choose a product that has margins high enough that you’ll make a comfortable profit, while still taking into consideration the cost to import the goods (if applicable).

2. Build a website suited to your business

Once you know what you want to sell, you can start building your website. There are three strong contenders to consider: WooCommerce, Ecwid and Shopify. Building your website not only requires you to create listings and take beautiful images of the products, but also to consider backend factors such as email marketing, privacy policies, returns policies and more. Make use of the free or paid apps and extensions offered by each respective website platform. Tip! Use a styling board or light box to take product images that look neat and appealing to the eye for use in your online listings.  

Don’t forget to choose a payment gateway as well; without this, you won’t be able to start making sales. PayFast and PayGate are South Africa’s two most popular options.You can also add Bob Pay, Ozow, Zapper, SnapScan and many more! Remember that they will charge a fee per transaction, so use this information to determine your most suitable choice. Once you have the basic payment options available, you can also consider introducing a digital credit partner such as Mobicred or PayFlex.

3. Find your preferred courier company

Once your website is ready, you need to determine your preferred courier company or logistics provider so you can ship your sales to your customers. Great courier options include The Courier Guy, MDS Collivery, Dawn Wing, FastWay and Internet Express. If you want a more integrated solution with order management functionality, consider Bob Go

4. Make your first sale 

When it’s time to go live with your website so you can start making sales, our advice is to just start and all your loose ends will fall into place. You can promote your products via social media platforms and Google Ads (shopping and/or display). In order to attract new shoppers and retain existing customers, you will need to keep up a constant flow of promotions and sales. Tip! Don’t forget about your SEO rankings; this is just as important and is a great way to drive traffic to your website without needing a big marketing budget. 

5. Ways to grow your business 

Once the orders are coming in, you need to start thinking about how to scale your business and increase sales. The most obvious answer is to expand product lines that are doing well and to increase stocks of your most popular items. Use social media to its full potential; it can be used as a platform to showcase products and how they work. Also consider using social media influencers to increase awareness of your brand and products. Make sure you are easy to reach and can assist shoppers as soon as possible – customer service is an obvious thing to get right.  Lastly, make sure you are mobile friendly, as more and more people are using their mobile phones to shop online, because you just can’t ignore the convenience.

Now that you are familiar with our top five tips, hopefully you feel more confident and ready to take on a new challenge by starting your own ecommerce business.