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How to start your own eCommerce Business ?

Bill Gates once said: “If your business is not on the internet, then your business will be out of business.”

"Jack Ma says all it takes to create a successful ecommerce business is a great vision."

Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to start your own ecommerce business in India.

Amazon, Flipkart, Snapdeal all showed us that ecommerce truly is the future. And the only way they became as big as they did was because they realised and experimented with the brimming potential of the ecommerce market.

Still not convinced? Let’s take a look at the numbers to make a stronger case.

According to the Economic Survey of 2017-2018, the ecommerce market in India was estimated at the $33 billion - a full 19.1 percent growth rate since 2016-2017!

What’s more, the Nasscom Strategic Review of 2018 estimated the ecommerce market at $33 billion in 2017-2018 and claimed that it reached $38.5 billion, indicating a commendable growth rate of about 17 percent in the financial year 2018-2019, The Business Standard reported.

These numbers are the encouragement you need to start your own ecommerce business in India. Keep at it, and who knows? Maybe you could build the next ‘Alibaba’.

After all, as Jack Ma puts it - all it takes to create a successful ecommerce business - is a great vision. “My dream was to set up my own ecommerce company. In 1999, I gathered 18 people in my apartment and spoke to them for two hours about my vision. Everyone put their money on the table, and that got us $60,000 to start Alibaba. I wanted to have a global company, so I chose a global name,” he said.

So, are you ready? Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to start your own ecommerce business in India.

Let’s understand what are the key elements of an e-commerce store :

Products - It can either be one focused product with various designs or a line of different products (Amazon, Flipkart, eBay etc).

Logistics - Product shipping, returns, distribution, etc

Inventory - Number of products in stock, locations etc

Technology - Website / App or both.

Payment Gateways - To accept payments.

Customer acquisition - Marketing, branding, Sales.

Customer care / service.

Now let’s approach each element one by one.

(a) Product is the most important aspect of an e-commerce business. What you are selling - How desirable is it? Who are you going to sell it to?

I believe most of your products can be sold on already existent e-commerce platforms like Amazon, Flipkart, eBay, Etsy, Snapdeal etc.

The best part about these platforms - They will handle most of the above mentioned features for you. You wouldn’t have to spend time on building a website or an app or on customer service.

If not, these websites will be additional sales channels for your products. It’s always good to have more and more sales channels to increase SALES.

(b) Logistics - Depending on your transactions per day/month, you’d want to partner with logistics companies which will take care of pick-ups/deliveries. They will not only handle that for you, but also inform the customer about the tracking code and provide APIs for your website to ensure a smooth order experience. Ex : Indian Post, FedEx, DTDC, Shiprocket etc

(c) Inventory : Unless you’re as huge as Amazon, you’d not need to have warehouses to store your products. Based on your sales estimates you’d want to keep your stocks. There are various softwares which will help you manage your inventory.

(d) Technology : There are 2 ways to approach technology. Either use platforms like Shopify, woocommerce which are built for people who want to start e-commerce platforms .


Custom E-commerce Website :

  • Custom-websites are ultra customizable for your needs- While you might feel little more convenience and ease with Shopify, remember it’s only temporary. A custom-built website can work for you years down the road. This is because customization options allow you to grow along with your business. Your businesses needs and aspirations keep growing and Shopify will not be able to keep up with these. Set yourself up for success by choosing a custom-built e-commerce website and evolve with your businesses dreams.

  • More functionality & options: a custom website provide you with a lot more options and functionalities to support your business, making it an amazing return on investment.

  • Unique look & Ample of flexibility and scalability- If your business has unique products, a highly specific target market, specific needs or even special rules for shipping, a custom-website can make all this possible giving you the flexibility and scalability to take your website to the next level and get ahead of competitors.

(e) Payment Gateways : Again, there are many companies which provide you with payment gateways and APIs. They will charge you somewhere between 2–5% on each transaction. Ex: Stripe, PayPal, Razorpay etc

(f) Customer acquisition : The most important part for your e-commerce business. Customers will pay which will ultimately help you run the company. You’d want to know who to target for your products.

You can use Facebook ADs, Google ADwords, content marketing, and so many more methods to acquire customers.

(g) Customer care : There’s nothing better than word of mouth marketing, this happens only when your customers are super happy with your product and service. Depending on the volume of transactions you can either have an in-house team to handle customer support or outsource this to another company.

Amazon is an extremely customer focused company. This explains why it’s growing everyday.

PS : I believe using a platform like Shopify and woocommerce would be extremely helpful for you to kickstart you e-commerce business. They offer 1000s of extensions which can help you solve most of your operational problems - Track customer heatmap, track cart, email marketing, billing, analytics and what not.

It’s even better to have additional sales channels. So list your products on Amazon and all other relevant e-commerce websites which can drive external SALES for your business.

In the end, it’s all about learning everyday and improvising as you go. We learn so much more about our business everyday. Start small, focus on customer satisfaction, and you will be good to go.

Author : Aijaz Ahmad