How to Start An Ecommerce Business
To start an ecommerce business is the dream of every digital salesman. Ever wondered or wanted to know how it’s possible for you to sell your products online? Actually, there are lots of methods you can about that; ranging from social media marketing, search engine marketing, and many more. All these methods work well but the great benefit of having an ecommerce website can never be underestimated.
One of the biggest advantages is that you can actually use any type of digital marketing campaign to fuel traffic to your ecommerce website to drive sales. I will be revealing to you in this article, the step by step guide on how you can create an ecommerce website and sell your products online using some of the basic marketing strategies.
Firstly before we dive in, let’s quickly take a glimpse at what ecommerce is.
What is Ecommerce?
Ecommerce can be defined as a digital mean of trading or a type of online business which involves the selling of goods and products in exchange for money.
Ecommerce is beyond just buying and selling as it also involves other components some of which are marketing, transporting, and delivery of the goods to the customers.
One of the most amazing benefits of ecommerce to traditional trading is that all of these processes can be done on auto-pilot, which means all you need to do is to set it up once and wait for the orders to start rolling in. Although, it may require a lot of effort and work hours to be put in, at the start.
What Products Can I Sell Via Ecommerce?
This is a very big question you might need to ask before chasing your interest in starting an ecommerce business. It is important you first get to know if the kind of product you sell or are interested in selling, is one you can sell via ecommerce.
There are basically two kinds of product you can sell via ecommerce and they are as follows:
- Physical products: These are the products that will require physical delivery to the customer. This kind of product seems to be the most popular and way more easy to get started with because people are more used to it, just like in traditional trading.
Some examples of physical products are shoes, clothe, bag, chair, textbook, television set, and many more as such as you can think.
- Digital Product: Unlike physical products, digital products are ones which can be delivered to customers online via email or any other digital mean of communication.
A digital product can be either in form of a text, video, audio, or image.
Some examples of digital products are tutorial ebook, how-to guide, video presentation, and many more.
Yeah! This is something important you need to actually ask yourself. Ecommerce is not meant for everyone and that’s why not everyone who has heard about it has actually taken action. If you think any of the below-mentioned is what you will like to have for your business, then I can assure you that ecommerce is the perfect way for you to dive into.
- Get more sales: With more than 1.2 billion people using the internet daily, there are no doubts that the best and most efficient place to get a quite well amount of sales will be the internet and that can be easily achieved via ecommerce.
- Drive targeted customers: Take into consideration two brands selling computer software, one advertising their products in a boutique and the other at a cyber café. Which of these two do you think will make more sales? Just as you may think! This is how much effectiveness an ecommerce website can provide when properly utilized. Out of the billions of users of the internet, there is definitely a percentage who are interested in what you sell and you can easily reach out to them through ecommerce.
- Automate sales: With ecommerce, you don’t have to be up 24/7 working just like you do in a traditional business. It gives you the opportunity to get everything done on an auto-pilot thus giving you more time to focus on other important things while your sales keep rolling in. Customers can easily go through your stock anytime, make orders, and complete payment even while you are sleeping. Sounds cool right!? Let’s keep moving.
Having gone through the basic introductions, let’s dive in straight to the tutorial on how you can start an ecommerce business in Nigeria.
Getting Started With Ecommerce?
1. Get An Ecommerce Website
The importance of having a website can never be underestimated when it comes to ecommerce. If truly you want to automate your stuff and start getting orders on auto-pilot, then a website will be something you should strive to get. You can hire an expert to help you set up your ecommerce website or set it up yourself.
Although I will recommend you get it done by an expert as it’s always the best choice. Anyways, here’s a quick guide on how you can create your ecommerce website.
Step 1: Register a Domain Name
Your domain name is the digital identity of your brand as it’s the name which your brand will be regarded as on the web. Most times, if you already have your business established, you will want to consider using your business name as your domain name.
For example, you own a cosmetics shop which you named “Trad Cosmetics”, then there are no doubts the perfect domain name you will want to choose will be www.tradcosmetics.com.
In the case where you are just starting up and yet to have a business name, I will recommend you check out Marketingmo’s guide on how to choose a good brand name.
Once you have your perfect domain name ready, then the next step will be to check the availability to ensure it hasn’t been registered by someone else.
I recommend you use Namecheap to check the availability of your chosen domain.
Also, you will want to go for the .com extension as it’s the most popular and common, thus making it easy for customers to easily enter your website.
In some cases, your desired domain name might have been chosen by someone else so you will want to consider other extensions such as .net and .org. You can also consider other local extensions such as .co.uk (for uk residents), .com.ng/.ng (for Nigeria residents), .co.in/.in (for India residents) etc.
If you are planning to sell digital products or take your business out of your locality on the longrun, then I don’t recommend using the local TLD/domain extension.
To check for the local extension of your country, simply type “[Country_name] local domain extension” on Google. Replace [Country_name] with your country name.
After choosing a domain, the next thing is to register the domain name. Namecheap offers 5.99 per annum and I recommend you try them out as that’s what I personally use. You can also go for Harmonweb or any other alternatives but always go a reliable registrar with good customer service.
Step 2: Register an Hosting Plan
After you might have gotten your domain name, the next step now is to sign up for hosting service from a good hosting provider. Just like you might have guessed, I use the Harmonweb hosting service and so far, their service has been awesome.
In case you will be going for any other alternative web hosting service apart from the ones mentioned, make sure they have at least, the following features;
- 10gb webspace.
- 5Gb bandwidth
- Free SSL certificate.
- Softaculous app installer.
- 5MB I/O
These requirements are enough to accommodate up to 10,000 visitors monthly which should optimal for a start.
You might want to ask, what’s the difference between a domain name and hosting? The answer is very simple and it can be brought to our everyday life as; just like the address used to locate your house where you live and keep your properties, a domain name is an address used to locate your website on the web while hosting is the structure (house) where your contents are placed.
Having known that, let’s move to the next step.
Step 3: Install WordPress
There are basically two methods of installing the WordPress CMS which are;
- Direct Installation
- Installation via Softaculous
3.1 Direct Installation
- Log on to www.wordpress.com/download.
- Download the zip file of the latest WordPress version.
- Check for your Cpanel login by checking the email sent to you after purchasing your hosting service.
- Log in to your site’s Cpanel using by going to www.yoursite.com/cpanel. On the web page, you will be prompt to enter your login details, and after doing that, you will be redirected to your Cpanel dashboard.
- The next step is to go to your file manager and go to the public_html folder.
- Locate and click the upload icon on the top navigation menu.
- Select the downloaded WordPress zip file.
- Once the upload has been completed, go back to the public_html folder and extract the WordPress zip file.
- Once the extraction has been completed, copy the entire files from the WordPress folder to the public_html folder.
- Now, go back to your Cpanel dashboard and click the Database button.
- Check for your database username and password.
- Log on to your site by going to www.yoursite.com.
- Choose your preferred language and click the next button.
- Enter your database username, password, host (localhost), and the preferred database name (this could be anything e.g table, mysite, e.tc.)
- On the next screen, enter your site name, tagline, preferred username, email, and preferred password.
- The next step is to log in to your WordPress dashboard by simply going to www.yoursite.com/wp-login. Enter your chosen username/email and password to log in.
- Once you are on your WordPress dashboard, then it means you have successfully completed your WordPress installation and good to move to the next step.
3.2. Installation via Softaculous
- Login to your Cpanel dashboard.
- Navigate to apps and click on Softaculous Installer.
- On the next screen, click on WordPress.
- Choose the WordPress version you will like to install, the URL you will like to install on (choose the https version), your site name, tagline, preferred username, and password.
- Click the install button.
- Now go to www.yoursite.com/wp-login and enter your chosen username/email and password.
- You will then be redirected to your WordPress dashboard thus indicating that your WordPress installation has been completed successfully.
The second method is what I mostly recommend but in the case when your hosting provider doesn’t support the Softaculous app installer, you can go for the first method.
Step 4: Set Up Your Website
After you might have successfully installed WordPress, the next step now is to set up your website.
Most times, I do recommend you get your site set up by an expert due to some unequal circumstantial difficulties that come up in the process but since you are here just because you want to do it yourself, I will teach you how to go about it.
4.1 Install An Ecommerce Theme
- The first step is to change your site theme. You can go use any of the available good free ecommerce themes or your go check out some premium themes on Envato or Themeforest.
As for the free one, I’ve personally used ‘Leto’, and it has so many nice features. So you can as well choose it, go for a similar one, or choose anyone that suits your taste.
- After you might have selected a theme, the next step is to install the theme. You can do this by going back to your site WordPress dashboard; navigate on the themes button and click the Add New button.
- Click the upload button; choose the downloaded theme from your computer and then click upload the theme.
- On the next screen, click the activate button.
4.2 Install Required Plugins
In most cases, some themes do require you to install certain plugins to work properly. Make sure you go check them out on the theme’s required plugin page, install, and activate.
Apart from the plugins recommended or required by them, here are the other plugins you need to install for an ecommerce website.
- WooCommerce and its extensions.
- Any SEO plugin such as Yoast SEO, RankMath, etc.
I personally recommend Yoast SEO and most importantly the premium version, you can go get it here completely for free.
In the case where you don’t have access to the Yoast premium version, then I will recommend you go for Rankmath. Although, I personally use Yoast SEO for most of my websites.
4.3 Add Necessary Pages
Do you want your visitors to see some things about your business? Then, this is what you have to do. Pages enable you to pass across information or means of contact to your website visitors and as well as your customers.
The necessary pages you will want to add irrespective of the goods you sell are;
- About page.
- Contact page.
- Disclaimer page.
After creating your pages, you can make them show up at any menu location on your website by simply logging on to your WordPress dashboard, navigate on the appearance button, and then click the menus button.
Create a new menu, add the pages you will like to appear on the menu, and tick the location you will like the menu to appear on your website. Then, click the save button.
4.4 Set Up On-page SEO
In case you will be using SEO to drive traffic to your website, then the next thing you will want to do is to set up your on-page SEO but if otherwise, then you can move straight to the next step.
4.5 Set Up WooCommerce
The next thing now is to go complete the woocommerce installation wizard and guess what? Woocommerce itself made an article on how you can go about the setup, step by step. I’ll recommend you go check it out and follow the guide to also complete yours.
Step 5: Add Your Products
Here’s another article made by woocommerce on how you can go about adding of products to your ecommerce website so I will recommend you also check it out or you follow the steps as provided on the product addition page.
So, now that you have successfully set up your ecommerce website and you’ve been able to add your products, the next step will be to choose a marketing campaign.
2. Start A Marketing Campaign
A marketing campaign is one which you can use to drive traffic to your ecommerce website. Of course, in order to have sales, you can’t just set up your website, leave it as it, and start getting orders.
No! You need to send people to the website to see what you offer, and that way, you can turn the visitors into your customers when they make a purchase.
There are quite a number of marketing campaigns you can use but I will be limited to the 5 main ones which I’ve personally tried before and proved to be working.
The marketing campaigns can be classified into two main categories which are;
- Free Traffic Campaign
- Paid Traffic Campaign
1. Free Traffic Campaign
The free traffic campaign allows you to get traffic to your website without paying any money. Although, it requires more effort and time compared to a paid traffic campaign. Some examples of free traffic campaign are:
- Social Media Marketing.
- Blog commenting.
- Forum posting.
- YouTube Marketing.
- And many others.
2. Paid Traffic Campaign
The paid traffic is one which allows you to drive targeted traffic to your website in exchange for money or other resources. Paid traffic campaign involves the placing of adverts, sponsored posts, and banners, on websites and platforms where your targeted customers can be found.
Some examples of paid traffic campaigns are:
- Facebook Ads.
- Search Engine Marketing (e.g Google Adword, Bing Ads, etc.).
- Sponsored Posts.
- Forum Banner Ads.
- And many others.
Steps Involved in Starting A Marketing Campaign
- Choose one or more marketing campaigns to be used (I recommend you choose a free and two paid campaigns).
- Learn and master it very well.
- Start applying it to your ecommerce business.
- Apply more campaigns as your business grow.
- Employ people to work for you and have a team.
- Keep learning and keep growing.
Now that you have your ecommerce website all set up and your marketing campaign all active, the next thing now is to start selling.
3. Start Selling
The sales process all depends on the kind of goods you sell. Typically the steps involved in the sales process are;
- Receive order.
- Confirm order received.
- Send payment invoice.
- Confirm payment received.
- Send payment receipt and tracking information.
- Deliver Order.
- Send thank you message and request for an overall order feedback.
Pro Tip 1: Always have a means of getting in touch with your customers in case of future recommendations and sales opportunities. Some of the methods you can utilize are email marketing, social media, and many others.
Pro Tip 2: Honesty matters a lot when it comes to business. Always stay true to your customers and make them feel they can trust. It will go a long way to improve your conversion.
Pro Tip 3: When running any campaign, always make your existing or potential customers feel you are after their success, happiness, or whichever way your products might seem to help them. Let them see you as a source of solution to their problem and not someone who only wants to sell their goods or products.
Now that you’ve understood what an ecommerce business is and how to start one, the next thing now is to unleash your potentials and set up on for yourself. The start may seem a bit rough but I can assure you it will alright.
Even the ecommerce giant, Amazon, started from a very small office with the CEO, Jeff Bezos, and a few workers. You can imagine that compared to what the company has now grown into. If Amazon could have become a huge success, then trust me, your brand can do better.
Take action today, and you won’t regret ever reading this!
I hope this little write-up of mine has been able to light up your way and show you how to start your own ecommerce business. Have anything to share with me? Kindly contact me via any of the mediums below.