9 tips to get started with e-commerce

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Entrepreneurship is in your blood and you would like to open your own webshop, but you don't know where to start? We tell you what the 9 steps are to start in the best conditions.

1. FIND THE RIGHT PRODUCT FOR YOUR WEBSHOP

The first question every entrepreneur should ask for his webshop is: 'Which products/services will I sell on my webshop?' This first phase is probably also the most crucial. Below are some ideas and advice to find the ideal product.

PRODUCTS/SERVICES THAT FULFILL A NEED

Before you start selling a new product or service, it's important to make sure there is a demand for it. By performing a market analysis, you can gain a deeper understanding of the target market and the customer need you want to fulfill.

PROVEN PRODUCTS

Of course, the aim isn't to trade in what is already being sold in abundance, but to find a new product that is on the rise and already selling well. Once you've found that product, you can try adding value to it to differentiate yourself from the competition and increase your sales.

POPULAR PRODUCTS

Many webshops start with products that are trending. There are several tools that can help you determine which topics and interests are popular, but be careful because the success of popular products is often short-lived.

To determine which trending products have high potential, you can use the following tools:

  • Google Trends: a free tool that displays the popularity of a keyword;
  • Magazines and blogs - that publish product reviews;
  • Pinterest and Instagram: the social media with images are very interesting to easily see which products are of interest to the consumers;
  • Online Marketplaces: These are websites that connect buyers and sellers.

A NICHE MARKET

A niche market is a small market segment where there isn't much competition yet. To find a niche market you can use the methods explained in the previous point, but here too there is a risk of erratic fashion products.

YOUR PASSION

Maybe you make beautiful products yourself or you're just passionate about a certain sector. If you love what you sell, you naturally transfer that enthusiasm to your customers. However, keep listening to them and don't fall into the trap of only selling products that only match your preferences.

To conclude this first point, we would like to point out that it's important to find a product that meets the following characteristics in order to facilitate logistics and improve profitability:

  • Price: The products chosen are best within a price range of $20-$75. Anything less than $20 can compromise profitability and anything that is too expensive has a high initial cost.
  • Delivery: opt for simple and durable products that aren't too big and avoid fragile products for easier delivery to your customers.
  • Suppliers: go for products that have a regular production and are readily available from the suppliers.
  • Constant sales: choose seasonal products to have stable sales all year round.

2. FIND THE RIGHT SUPPLIER

Finding suppliers isn't the most complicated, but it does take some time and patience. Fortunately, you can easily find a range of suppliers on the internet and have access to all necessary contact details with a few mouse clicks.

3. CHOOSE AND CHECK YOUR BRAND AND DOMAIN NAME

Once you've decided which products to sell, you need to find a name for your business. Be sure to read our article ' The right name for your company or business? ' Once you've chosen the name, you'd better check the availability of your trademark and domain name before registering and protecting it.

4. SET UP YOUR WEBSITE

To build your webshop you've two options: you've it done by a professional, or you do it yourself. However, professionals are often expensive and starters often have little budget. Fortunately, there are various platforms with which you can easily and cheaply set up a webshop.

These platforms offer webshop templates, including inventory management and payment systems:

  • Prestashop
  • Shopify
  • square
  • Wix
  • Woocommerce

5. THINK ABOUT YOUR LOGISTICS

What actually happens in logistics when your webshop is online and the first orders come in? It's important to know that a large part of the management of a webshop is determined by the proper organization of logistics (stock management, deliveries and returns). For an optimal organization it's absolutely necessary to visualize the path the product will take from its arrival in stock to the end customer. How is it stored? How is it delivered? How are returns handled?.. Think about all these questions beforehand and work out clear procedures.

6. TAKE LEGAL AND TAX OBLIGATIONS INTO ACCOUNT

You have to register as a self-employed person anyway to comply with the law, but other specific legal obligations apply to webshops. For example, all web shops must contain some mandatory pages such as the legal notice (identification data of the company) and the general terms and conditions of sale. In addition, you must ensure that your customers accept your terms and conditions before they complete their purchases on your webshop. In accordance with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), you must also let your customers know how their data will be collected and processed.

You will have to apply for a VAT number just like for a normal commercial business. Please note that when online companies that deliver internationally exceed the sales threshold of a particular country, they must apply that country 's VAT rate.

7. NEGOTIATE YOUR COURIER SERVICE CONTRACT

An important part of your logistics is the shipping of your packages. To organize this as well as possible, you'll have to negotiate an agreement with a logistics service provider. In Belgium, the best-known players are Bpost, TNT, TLS, Mondial Relay and GLS.

8. CREATE BRAND AWARENESS

Online competition is tough. To stand out and promote your store, you need: a marketing strategy and effective communication

9. PAMPER YOUR CUSTOMERS

Customer service is one of the biggest challenges in e-business. The customer has no direct contact from behind his screen and is becoming increasingly demanding. Build a close and trusting relationship with your customers by "guiding them" throughout their shopping experience and even afterwards.

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