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How to Start An E-commerce Business in 2021: Step-wise Guide

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Wondering how to start an e-commerce business this year? You ought to bookmark this blog. We’re going to spell out each step to start your own e-commerce business. 

Did you know? The pandemic has transformed how business is done all over the world. 

The rise of the internet and accessibility to smartphones has seen a drastic change. With the Digital India programme being introduced, there has been a significant rise in internet users to 785 million users. The E-commerce industry is to grow to $111.45 billion from $43 billion in India in 2021.

The micro, small and medium enterprises in India have impacted the growth of the E-commerce industry. It has seen an upward growth trajectory and is expected to grow leaps and bounds by 2025, possibly becoming the second-largest E-commerce market in the world. 

Digital ads, digital payments, and measurable consumer engagement support even more growth of the E-commerce sector. This will lead to an increase in job opportunities and small businesses. 

Quick Tip: If you’re someone who requires personal mentoring and would like to set up side-by-side with mentors, consider training with IIDE with our Online Ecommerce Management Course

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How to start an E-commerce Business from Scratch: 8 Steps

Setting up any kind of business is not easy. From planning to launching, there are many steps on the way to successfully launching a business. With the internet, starting your business from scratch is easier than ever! Let’s have a look at how to start your very own e-commerce business from scratch.

1. Research – Find your niche in the e-commerce space

The first step is research. What kind of product would you like to sell? Would you like to sell a service? Go on different platforms and see how others are doing it. 

Is the product saturated in the space? What kind of legal terms and services would you offer? Where would you source your products from? Ask yourself these questions before starting out.

2. Choose a Product

Choose your product. It needs to add value, and at the same time, stand out from the crowd. Identify what kind of business model you wish to go for. A single-vendor or multi-vendor store are your option. 

  • Single-vendor model – Only a single vendor is registered and can sell the products to multiple customers. Inventory is easier to control here. 
  • Multi-vendor model – Multiple vendors can sell their products to multiple customers by registering with your store. 

3. Branding

Choose a name that is unique but also communicates what your business is all about well. It needs to be – 

  • Short, not too long
  • Easy to remember
  • Unique but not difficult to pronounce

Design a logo to go with your merchandise and on your card. It will build brand identity.

4. Market Research

Market research is extremely important. Once you’ve identified a potential list of products or services, dive deep into market research. What are the competitors doing that is working for them? How other businesses work will give you an idea of how to go about setting up.

5. Obtain an E-commerce business license

Now comes the most important part of setting up your e-commerce store in India – obtaining the license. Here’s how you can get the license required for e-commerce business in India – 

  • Apply for the DIN (Director’s Identification Number) on the DIN app from the website of the Ministry of Corporate Affairs.
  • Keep your PAN card and digital signature ready. 
  • Apply to the Registrar of Companies (ROC) to check for the availability of your brand name. You can check it on the website of the Ministry of Corporate Affairs as well.
  • After getting confirmation on the name, you need to apply for GST certification, Professional Tax (PT) and Shops and Establishment License.
  • Apply for the Certification of Company Incorporation, where your company will be registered under the Company’s Act.

6. Choose your platforms

Now comes the actual setting up bit. Choose the right platforms for your business. Choose from Amazon, Flipkart, etc. there are a number of platforms available today and it’s up to you to find out with research as to which platform would work best for your product. 

Many people also set up their own e-commerce website from scratch.

7. Set Up and List Your Products

Once you’ve identified which platforms work best, start uploading content, images and maintain an inventory. List them and start selling. 

8. Market your business

Once your e-commerce store is set up, start marketing it. Use promotions, remarketing, and word of mouth to really reach your potential customers. Only going live with your business is not enough to bring in sales.

How Much Does It Cost To Start An E-commerce Business In India? 

One question that lingers in many prospective business owner’s minds is – how much does it cost to start an e-commerce business in India? Let’s have a look at a breakdown of the costs involved to get your e-commerce business started from scratch – 

  • Domain 

A website is very important as it builds brand credibility. Buying a domain name would cost you anything between INR 500 – INR 1500 a year.

  • Hosting

You need to ensure that the hosting server you choose is completely compatible with your shipping cart software which can cost anything between INR 2,000 – INR 5000.

  • Shopping Cart Software

If you plan on setting up your own e-commerce business from scratch, then a shopping cart software will be required. It allows the customers to add to the cart and on checkout, gives them a total for their order. It will cost anything between INR 500 – 5,000 per month.

  • Payment Gateways

Payment gateways are ways to receive digital payments from your customers. There are service providers who manage transactions. They charge a setup fee and a commission on each transaction. 

There is an annual set maintenance of up to INR 4,000, set costs of INR 6,000 – 25,000 per annum and a 2-7% transactional fee.

  • Logistics

Logistics include delivery and courier charges. They depend on the location, total weight of the product, size, etc. 

  • Branding Costs

Branding includes designing your logo, website banners, digital ads, etc. It is everything you see on your website as well.  These costs will depend on the quantum of work done. 

  • Inventory

You will need an inventory of products. Again, the costs here will vary from product to product. To start out, a minimum budget of INR 20,000 is recommended.

Keeping all the varying costs in mind, an estimated amount of about INR 85,000 – INR 1 lakh is needed to start your own e-commerce business in India.

Best Platforms Start An e-commerce Business

We have a few platforms that can help with setups such as Shopify and WooCommerce. 

1. Shopify

How to start an e-commerce business - Shopify

Shopify is one of the largest e-commerce platforms in the entire world. It has a hassle-free integration and a very smooth onboarding process which is probably why it is so popular. Here’s how you can set up shop on Shopify – 

  • Pick your online store name 

Pick a fitting store name for your business.

  • Register for a Plan 

Register for a store plan that best suits you. You can make use of the free trial to start with.

  • Choose a theme 

Shopify has different themes – both preset and customizable. They even offer themes that can make your store go online in less than an hour. 

  • Set up pages

Any e-commerce site has basic pages with their terms and conditions, returns policy, delivery information, customer service number, about us, company vision, etc. Set these pages up with the right information.

  • Add your products 

Now add your products. Include high-quality images, relevant product information, product variants, refund policy, pricing, etc. 

  • Set up secure payments 

Set up payments with a payment gateway that is secure and also caters to your needs.

  • Shipping 

Identify good shipping partners to work with.

  • Billing 

This is an integral part of the process. You won’t be charged by Shopify until your 14-day trial ends.

2. Woocom​​merce 

How to start an e-commerce business - Woocommerce

WooCommerce is a popular WordPress plugin. It has a loyal fan-following with a rating of 4.6/5. Let’s have a look at how to get this plug-in for your WordPress powered website.

  • Install the Plugin

You need to first install the plugin. You can either do it from the WordPress site or the dashboard.

  • Set up

Enter basic information about your store in the setup wizard such as an address, currency, etc.

  • Choose Payment preferences 

Choose your payment preferences such as cash, cheques, digital payments, etc.

  • Shipping 

Here, you need to mention how much would you charge your customers for shipping. 

  • Add Optional Plugins 

Add optional plugins like JetPack for analytics, etc.

  • Finish setup

You are now ready to go live! 

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FAQs 

Q. How do I start a small e-commerce business?

Here’s how you can get started on a small e-commerce business – 

  • Understand the retail space
  • Decide what product you want to sell
  • See what competitors are doing
  • Identify your niche
  • Decide on a USP
  • Pick e-commerce platforms
  • Set up
  • Make your social media pages
  • Cross-promote and spread the word

Q. Is starting e-commerce profitable?

The e-commerce industry is very competitive. However, if you strategize well, do your market research well and understand what consumers want, then e-commerce can be very profitable for you.

Q. How much does it cost to start an e-commerce brand?

You would need a minimum of Rs. 1 lakh to register your brand, create and host your website, etc. It largely depends on the kind of e-commerce business you wish to start and the business model.

Q. How can I start an e-commerce business on Amazon in India?

Here’s how you can get your business started on Amazon India –

  • Register your business
  • Add company name and GST ID
  • Enter TAX details
  • Click products to sell 
  • Start Listing your products
  • Enter price, product details, etc.
  • Add to your inventory
  • Add remaining details like your digital signature
  • Launch your business

To Summarise

Setting up an e-commerce business in this day and age is a wonderful idea. And for the marketing of it, there’s nothing better than opting for digital marketing. 

If you’re an entrepreneur looking for a comprehensive course on digital marketing, check this 3-month online comprehensive digital marketing course out. 

If you’re a professional looking for an MBA-level course in digital marketing, IIDE’s 11-month MBA-level online digital marketing course is perfect for you. If you liked reading our blog, let us know in the comments below!

COO, Avignyata Inc. & Digital Marketing Trainer, IIDE

He is currently COO at Avignyata Inc. - Digital Marketing Agency and has worked with 1400+ clients from various industries. Few clients worked on Shoppers Stop, Inorbit Malls, Disney, TGIF, Nexus Malls......[Read full bio]

Daksh Juneja

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