Congrats on being here – it’s great that you are considering to start an ecommerce business!
A host of factors – few associated with changes in economy at macro level, others with changing consumer behaviour and few related to challenges of distribution – have led to the widespread acceptance and growth of ecommerce in India. Success stories like Myntra, Flipkart, Snapdeal have only added fuel to this high octane growth of the industry.
We will look at a few of the important aspects before you start an ecommerce business in India; assuming that you have already figured out a product or a service to sell- lets be clear there is no ecommerce business without something to sell.
Step 1-Create an online presence for your ecommerce business
This means registering your domain name, getting a hosting plan, creating a website and making it live. There are a lot of options available for each of the above mentioned services. Domain selling companies like Godaddy and BigRock will allow you to buy domain names. Consider this as your address online.
Sites like Hostagator, Godaddy will host your site for a small amount. Once you have your domain name and hosting in place you may choose among open source, SAAS, and Enterprise solutions to create your web presence. For a detailed understanding of how to choose the right ecommerce platform for you please read my earlier blog here.
Step 2- Get your operations in shape for your ecommerce business
Now that you have an online presence for your ecommerce business, lets get ready to tackle your future customers. Remember if the first few customers do not get the right impression about your store, the ecommerce business path will become tougher to tread.
Operations for your ecommerce business mean getting your payment gateway in place, getting logistics partners aligned, getting customer service up and running, and streamlining your procurement from vendors. This is also a time to set your terms and conditions, policies regarding exchanges/returns, and process flows for as many used cases as possible.
There are a number of payment gateways available for ecommerce businesses- CC Avenue is one of the oldest but a host of new players like Citrus, Payu, Pay Zippy are worth exploring. Be sure to compare the rates as well as the setup costs for each.
Products on your ecommerce store will decide whether you need a logistics partner for surface shipment, air shipment or both. While there are a huge number of logistics providers available, not all provide the same level of service. Few offer unmatched service levels while others offer an roc-bottom prices. You will have to choose wisely among the available service providers for your ecommerce business. One important criterion is the availability of reverse logistics and ease of integration with your ecommerce business.
Step 3- Market your ecommerce business
Creating and setting up your ecommerce business is one thing. But to get the right customers to your ecommerce store to shop is a completely different ball-game. Marketing your ecommerce business will help you achieve this.
Marketing your ecommerce business is a mix of online and offline activities. Which channels to give more important depends on the type of ecommerce business- b2c, b2b, local, international. Digital Marketing is as important as it is efficient for an ecommerce business, and therefore we will focus only on digital.
To start with, you need search engines to find your ecommerce business online and index it . This requires optimizing your store as per the guidelines from search engine. This is the essence of SEO and the important first step.
Social is another medium that helps ecommerce businesses to connect directly to the customer. Social is extremely important for ecommerce business dealing with B2C products and more so if the product is not need based. Depending on the target segment Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Pinterest, Instagram are few of the channels that can be activated. One must remember here that activating the channel is the easy part. After this one must put in a considerable amount of effort in creating quality content and sharing it with the community.
Search ads are targeted at people who are actively looking for your type of products and such people are a good target because they are found near the bottom of the buying funnel. You may want to read more about buying funnel in one of my previous blogs. Display ads are an extremely efficient channel when you are looking to increase the consumer base and awareness for your ecommerce business.
Email marketing is also a good channel to target relevant customers for your ecommerce business. An example is when an ecommece business dealing in baby products targets people who have gotten married recently.
While its not impossible to cover each and every aspect of ecommerce business in a small blog, I have covered the main points. However, if you feel I’ve left something important off the list, do let me know in the comments section below.