E-commerce business is one of the best ways to make money online. In fact, it is one of the most sustainable ways to make a fortune online. According to Statista. In 2019, retail e-commerce sales worldwide amounted to 3.53 trillion US dollars and e-retail revenues are projected to grow to 6.54 trillion US dollars in 2022. How to start an E-commerce business is a common query some people perform on search engines.

This is because they want to learn exactly step by step on how to go about it especially as beginners so as not to make mistakes. Another reason is that they want to partake in a booming industry that is expected to hit $6.54 trillion in sales by 2022.

How To Start An E-commerce Business
Source: Statista

Are you one of those people? I welcome you to this complete guide where I will show you step by step how to start an e-commerce business and succeed at it.

The following steps are what this guide will discuss in detail: 

  • Research And Come Up With An E-commerce Business Plan
  • Identify An E-commerce Niche 
  • Register Your E-commerce Business Name 
  • Choose An E-commerce Platform 
  • Create, Design, And Launch Your Online Store 
  • Market Your Store To Drive Traffic, Get Orders And Make Sales

But before we head to the main point, let’s look at what an e-commerce business is.

What’s An E-commerce Business?

E-commerce business is simply the act of buying and selling over the internet. It could also be seen as an online business that involves the exchange of data and transfer of money for a transaction to be executed.

It includes selling physical and digital products, internet banking, online ticketing, online auctions, payment gateways, etc. 

Step By Step Guide On How To Start An E-commerce Business

It’s important you understand the appropriate steps involved in starting an E-commerce business. This will keep you informed on what you need to do and how to do it in order to get your e-commerce business up and running in no time.

1.Research And Come Up With An E-commerce Business Plan

Starting an E-commerce business is just like starting every other business. You have to carry out the necessary research as it concerns E-commerce.

The aim is to come up with a business plan which will serve as your blueprint. The idea is to make findings on the E-commerce business you are interested in.

This could be contacting people who are already in the business so as to know exactly what the business entails.

Which kind of product or service will you be selling? If it is a product, will it be digital or physical products? Is it physical? how will you source it? If it is digital, how will you develop it or partner with some who has already developed it? 

Going further, you have to consider how much it will cost you to start an e-commerce business. Do you have the capital? If no, how will you source it? Every business has a legal angle. It’s necessary to consider all the legal processes or regulations that may involve it.

The scalability of your E-commerce business should be part of your research. Every business hopes to expand.

How do you plan to scale it? Will you involve partners and investors? If that happens how do you plan to structure it to ensure that your investors and business partners get their return on investment?

All these are what you need to work on and put down in a business plan. That will guide you in working towards achieving the goals you’ve set for yourself. 

2. Identify An E-commerce Niche 

Although learning how to start an e-commerce business is a great move considering that the industry is booming, it is also competitive.

That’s why you need to pay so much attention to the niche you want to go into. 

Below are some of the niches in E-commerce

  • Vehicle Accessories 
  • Smartphone Accessories 
  • Weight loss products 
  • Green /Eco-friendly Products 
  • Sportswear and Equipment 
  • Computer Accessories 
  • Kids Clothing And Toys
  • Health And Fitness Products 
  • Fashion Line
  • Lifestyle Products 

What you should bear in mind is that some of these niches are more competitive than others. The competitiveness here means that a lot of merchants are into these niches because they look more profitable.

That’s not to say one can’t go into them. According to Alidrop, these are the 10 most profitable E-commerce niches with low competition. As a beginner who isn’t sure of how to choose a profitable E-commerce niche, below is how to go about it.

How To Choose An E-commerce Niche 

What Do You Have Passion For?

This is the first thing that comes to mind when thinking of which E-commerce niche to choose. It is natural for you to go extra mile for something you have a passion for. So is true of the e-commerce niche.

Sit back and figure out that which you also talk about passionately or advise people on. Narrow it down to the solutions you offer to people and think of products that will help solve such problems.

Take, for instance, you are passionate about women looking beautiful and attractive. Why not consider products in the beauty niche? 

Can You Make Profit From It?

It takes more than passion to make it in an e-commerce niche. The ability to make a profit from it matters more.

Some niches may not be profitable because of product types, demand, and the consumer behavior of the target customers. Google Trend is a free tool from Google that you can use to identify the number of people who search for topics and products in your niche over a period of time.

You can also get suggestions for related searches as it relates to a particular niche. This will help you with keyword optimization when you write your product description.

Another thing is to identify top products in that niche, the demand, the competitive price, and the shipping cost.

All these are the calculations you need to do on your own in order to see if it is possible for you to get large-volume sales. 

Where  Will You Source Your Products From?

Credible suppliers who will supply products to you at a reasonable price should be part of the things to consider.

If products in your niche are expensive for your customers to acquire as a result of the rate you bought from suppliers, you may not make a profit. The demand will be low making it difficult for you to have a high turnover.

If you plan to launch your E-commerce business on Shopify, you can make use of Oberlo, one of the best apps used by merchants to source for suppliers of different products. Alternatively, you can join communities or forums where you meet fellow merchants to seek advice. 

3. Come Up With Suitable Name

You’re already making progress after you have identified the E-commerce niche. Coming up with a suitable name for your e-commerce business is next. This is what customers should know your e-commerce for.

Here you have to be sure you have a name that suits your niche and that your customers can easily relate with.

Since it is e-commerce and surely you need a domain name, bear in mind that any name you come up with will likely be your domain name. Coming up with a suitable e-commerce name can be a hurdle. Here is how to go about it

Steps To Coming Up With  A Suitable Name For Your E-commerce Business

Blending Of Words

 This involves bringing two words that are related to your niche together to form a name. For instance, I have settled for childrens’ toy niche, next is to conduct a search on words related to it. Kids and Play are related to it.

Kid(s) is related to children and Play is what toys are used for. So having an e-commerce name – KidsPlay is good in this case.

An example of this method is Microsoft which is a giant in the tech industry. The word micro came from Microcomputer, while soft came from Software.

Using Prefix and Suffix

Adding a few letters at the beginning or ending of popular keywords in your niche is another way to go.

A few of the popular brands you know today came through that way. Shopify which is one of the popular e-commerce platforms got its name through this process by just adding ‘ify’ to Shop – a term that refers to an establishment that sells goods or services to the public. 

Unrelated Names

Your e-commerce business must not come from keywords in your niche. It could be a name that is either common or uncommon which is simple to remember and easy to spell.

Alternatively, it could be an encounter you had with such a name or word which means a lot to you. An example here is Apple Inc.

The name came to be from the lovely experience Steve Jobs, the founder of the company had when he worked in an Apple Orchard near McMinnville.

Brainstorm On Them

After you have tried all these methods to arrive at names, the next is to brainstorm on them.

This is the point your thinking should be about the name and the role it will play in your E-commerce business.

How does it represent the products or services you intend to sell, your personality, business plan, and also how it will make you unique from your competitors.

List all the names you have in mind and place them side by side against the factors mentioned here. 

Take A Break And Return To The Process 

You need to take a break after you have brainstormed so as to have a fresh look at things. It is common in every creative process. Even content creators take a break before they edit their content.

A 24 hours break is enough to have a new look at the process again with a fresh mindset.

At the end of this step, you should be able to narrow down to a few names which came out top best after you must have taken a critical look at them. 

Check If The Name You Have Chosen Is Available

At this stage, you check for the availability of such names. This is to ensure that you have not wasted your time on something that belongs to another person.

To do this, contact the relevant government agency of your country to ensure that such names have not been registered as a business name by other people.

Alternatively, you can search on Google to see that such names are not registered as a company or trademark.

Congratulations if they are all available. Another thing is to run a domain search because as an e-commerce business, it is important you secure such domain names since you surely need a website to promote your goods and services. 

Conduct A Survey On The Names To Get A Feedback

This is one important step many people ignore when looking for ways to come up with that perfect e-commerce business name.

You are going to deal with the public therefore you need to test your chosen name with them before you finally settle for it.

Also, it is said that two heads are better than one. Facebook groups are the best places to conduct this kind of survey.

A Facebook group of a minimum of 50 people is okay. If possible private Facebook groups that are related to your niche.

Why? Private Facebook groups are more regulated than public Facebook groups. You can also contact the admin of such groups to help you with the survey.

If the percentage that favors the names is much higher, then know it is an ideal name for your e-commerce business. I personally made this mistake with one of my blogs.

I chose a domain name without testing it with people because I thought I have made the best choice.

However, when I wanted people to check out my blog in some of my Facebook groups, many of them who responded told me that they can’t pronounce my domain name because it was too long and difficult. In fact, one of them told me that pronouncing the name trips her off.

Register Your Business And Domain Name 

This is the last thing you need to do when you settle for a name based on the best feedback you got and your discretion. It involves two stages. Stage one involves registering the name as a business with a relevant government agency in your country. Stage two is about securing a domain for that name with any domain name company like GoDaddy or Namecheap. 

These steps are what you need to take urgently. Because any delay can lead to another person purchasing it, especially the domain name. Some people are even in the business of flipping domain names. They just purchase domain names and resell to you at an expensive rate. 

4. Choose An E-commerce Platform

Learning how to start an e-commerce business won’t be complete if you don’t know some e-commerce platforms to choose from.

E-commerce involves buying and selling over the internet therefore you need an e-commerce platform where you can set up your online store.

It isn’t like the physical brick-and-mortar store where your customers have to walk in physically into your shop to purchase a product.

Your online store is the face of your e-commerce business. Customers will browse the internet to locate the products or services on your store before they make a choice either to purchase or not.

With that being said, choosing an e-commerce platform where you can up your e-commerce business is the most important in this step-by-step guide.

Therefore you will have to consider different e-commerce platforms out there to settle for the best.

Most of them not only allow you to create and launch your online store but also use the tools and features they offer to customize them to suit your e-commerce niche. This is without you writing a single line of code or being tech-savvy.

Other e-commerce activities this platform allows you to do are; management of inventory, get orders from customers, process orders, receive payments, and ship products to customers at their various addresses.

Although there are hundreds of e-commerce platforms that may be competing for your attention as a beginner, there are few of them which are popular, robust, and used by a lot of merchants who are already in the E-commerce business. 

Best E-commerce Platforms 

As a beginner it’s important you know the best e-commerce platforms and their features. How easy it is for you to set up your online store on any of them and manage it. 


It’s the most popular e-commerce platform worldwide. Shopify is a robust e-commerce platform where you can create and launch your own online store. Since over a decade it came on board, it has powers over 1,000,000 businesses worldwide.

How To Start An E-commerce Business

As an all-in-one e-commerce software, It has over 70 professionally designed themes which makes it easy for you to customize your online store.

In addition, there are some advanced Shopify themes like Debutify that offer you the powerful add-ons you need to take your business to the next level. Also, all apps you need to succeed in your e-commerce business are available on its app store.

You don’t need to bother about security, updates, and backups. Shopify takes care of all these leaving you with how to make sales in your store.  As a giant in the e-commerce industry, in Q2 of 2020, Shopify made a revenue of $714.3 million. 71% of the revenue came from new stores that were opened under the period in review.

Shopify has 5 different pricing plans but you can launch your e-commerce business on Shopify with its least plan – Shopify Lite which costs $9/month.

  Here’s a  detailed beginner’s guide on how Shopify works. 


BigCommerce is another all-in-one e-commerce platform created for merchants who want to scale their business with the latest technology which saves time and cost.

Founded in 2009, this e-commerce software is available in 120 countries with 600 employees. With over 5000 apps and design partners, it offers you most of the features you need to start, run, and grow your e-commerce business.

Merchants on BigCommerce have made over $25 billion in sales. Its features and functions can be likened to Shopify.

It offers you awesome themes that are fully customizable with in-built, CSS, HTML, and Javascript to design your online store.

BigCommerce has 4 different pricing plans. But you can launch your e-commerce business on it with its standard plan which is the least for $29.99/month.

Here’s a detailed comparison between Shopify and BigCommerce. 


Unlike Shopify and BigCommerce, Woocommerce is an open-source e-commerce plugin for WordPress. It is designed for small and large-scale merchants to leverage WordPress and set up an online store.

Setting up an online store on Woocommerce won’t be easy as a beginner because you have to take care of hosting, security, updates, and backup. Also, you need to be tech-savvy to install, customize, and manage some WordPress plugins which you will need to get your store running.

The advantage of it is that it gives you more control over your store since it is a WordPress plugin and WordPress has millions of e-commerce plugins that it integrates with.

Another benefit of it is that you don’t pay any monthly subscription fee like Shopify and BigCommerce. The only fee you pay is your hosting fee which you can do with Bluehost starting from $3.95/month. Here’s a detailed comparison between Shopify and Woocommerce

5. Create, Design, And Launch Your Online Store

After you have settled for any of the e-commerce platforms of your choice, the next thing is to create, design, and launch your store.

The processes don’t vary much for Shopify and BigCommerce which are all in one e-commerce platform.

Your first step is to sign up for any plan of your choice. It’s advisable to start with the least plans so as to check out if the platform will work for you.

Later you can upgrade to a higher version. But for this process, I will illustrate using Shopify since it is the most popular e-commerce platform. 

Select A Theme That Suits Your Niche 

How To Start An E-commerce Business

A theme is a template that determines the outlook of your store. Shopify has different awesome themes both free and premium which you can get on Shopify’s theme store. These themes are easy to install with just a click without having to bother about coding.

But it is important to you under the level of support available for any theme you decide to install. Why? You may like to add some features to a theme and discover that such a theme doesn’t support it. 

Preview And Check The Functionality Of The Theme 

Before you settle for any theme, view the demo, check for the features and reviews. This will help you make a decision based on the comments users of such themes left. Once you’re cool with it, you can upload it to your online store. This will change the appearance of your theme. Don’t panic if you don’t like the appearance of the theme in your store. You can always change it.

Customize Your Theme 

After you have installed your theme, your next step is to customize it. Customizing your theme is simply making changes to the theme to suit your store.

Once you’re on the admin dashboard board, on the top left corner, you will see “ Theme” down below. Navigate through it and tap on customize. 

The settings below are crucial to make when customizing your theme:

  • Suitable font
  • Color schemes
  • Featured collection which displays your product image and price.
  • Uploading a logo
  • Setting the language you want 
  • Uploading slides to the homepage carousel
  • Adding the social media handles of your store
  • Setting a payment method for your customers 
  • How To Add Products To Your Store

Once you’re done customizing your theme, the next is to add products to your store. Login to your Shopify account, on the top left, you will see “ Product ” select it and click on “Add Product” 

The following steps are who you need to do: 

  • Give your product a title 
  • Describe your product 
  • Add the image of your product 
  • Name the price of the product 

When giving a title to your products, remember to add keywords associated with such products. Do the same with your product description.

Remember that Shopify optimizes your store to appear on search engine results. You will be missing a lot of sales if you don’t optimize for keywords when adding products to your store.

Use high-quality and attractive images for your products. Customers are first attracted by what they see before they check out your pricing and description.

When you’ve filled up all the necessary information, remember to click on save products. 


This is a great feature you need to set up in your Shopify store. It’s about grouping related products into categories so that it will be easy for your customers to find them.

An example could be Wedding Items, Gifts for Christmas, or Kitchen Utensils. Creating collections in your store can be manual or automatic. 

Manual Collection: You can change the order in which the products are displayed on your store on a collection page. This’s if such a product is available to your online store. 

Automatic Collection: You select products that will be added automatically if they meet certain criteria for such collection. 

Payment Gateway

Understanding the payment gateways through which you will receive payment from your customers is key. Choosing one is what you should be careful of to avoid payment difficulties.

This payment gateway is needed when a customer checks out of your store and wants to pay for the orders placed. They have to use the payment options you have enabled. Consider the following when you choose a payment gateway.

Types Of Card

Identify the type of cards these payment gateways accept. Mastercards, Visa, Verve are popular. Even American Express, Skrill, Paypal, Google Pay, and Apple Pay are being used frequently for online payments. 

How To Start An E-commerce Business

Processing Fees 

Some payment gateways will charge a little percentage of the amount a customer paid. This fee is for the services they render to you.

Research and identify a payment gateway that is efficient with fair processing fees. This is to avoid you losing most of your profit to processing fees.

Shopify has its payment gateway – Shopify payment which doesn’t charge any fee for store owners who use it as a payment method.

But it’s just available in a few countries. This means that if it is not supported in your country, you have to choose a different payment gateway.

Shopify charges different transaction fees depending on the plan you’re in. For Basic Shopify, it is 2%. Shopify and Advanced Shopify are 1% and 0.5% respectively.

Let Your Store Go Live 

How To Start An E-commerce Business

Once your store is ready, the next thing is to let it go live. This means that customers can now find your store and place an order for products.

But before that, be sure to have cross-checked all the settings on your Shop.

This includes how to ship your products, receive payments, and pay your taxes. Before your store can go live, you need to get a domain name for your store.

  You can purchase a domain name from  Shopify for $11/per year which is added automatically to your store.

This will save you time and stress especially if you’re a newbie who doesn’t know how to connect a domain to a store.

Alternatively, you can purchase domain names from third-party companies like Namecheap or GoDaddy and connect it yourself or hire a Shopify expert on Fiverr to help you out. 

6.Market Your E-commerce Store To Drive Traffic, Get Orders And Make Sales

Congratulations now that you have learned how to start an e-commerce business. The next thing will now be how to market it, drive traffic to it, get orders and make sales. The fact is that no customer will know about the products you’ve in your store if you don’t market it.

Marketing your store here means driving quality traffic to it for customers to check out the products you’ve there. There are two ways to go about it. Through free or paid traffic.

Free Traffic

This involves driving organic traffic through search engine optimization, social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram Twitter, etc.

For search engine optimization, it starts with using the appropriate keywords in your product title and description.

Although your Shopify is SEO  optimized on default, you should try different methods to increase the organic traffic you get.

One way to go about it is by starting a blog for your store. Shopify allows you to blog for your online store.

Creating quality content that are closely related to your niche is a perfect strategy to grow your organic traffic. Another way of getting free traffic is through the use of different social media platforms.

Build a large number of followers and subscribers on your social media pages who are interested in your niche.

Consistently post contents that are helpful and frequently present to them with some of the products you have on your store through a link that will drive them to it.

This process can be demanding if you have a lot of social media accounts. It will be advisable to make use of social media management tools to automate most of your activities. 

Paid Traffic

Paid traffic accounts for most of the sales some e-commerce merchants make. They achieve this through Facebook Ads, Google Ads, or Social Media Ads.

This source of traffic is quick as your products are advertised to target customers who are likely to take action.

It isn’t like free traffic which takes time and requires a more effective strategy. However, it is capital intensive and involves you spending a reasonable amount of money on ads for you to see results. To me, it is not for a beginner on a low budget.

Even though you decide to try it out, ensure that you understand how to run a campaign on Facebook, Instagram, or Google.

Otherwise, hire an expert on Fiverr to help you. This is to avoid wasting your money on campaigns that won’t generate leads and sales. 

Wrapping Up

Learning how to start an e-commerce business isn’t easy especially if you don’t have the knowledge of buying and selling on the internet.

However, following the step-by-step guide that I showed you here will help you get your online store running easily. All it requires is for you to understand every stage of this guide and implement it as stated.

As someone that has an interest in buying and selling, e-commerce is the future. It’s a booming industry and has more benefits than the mortar and brick store.

With little capital and the knowledge you have acquired which has taught you how to start an e-commerce business, you can set up your store in minutes.

Another benefit is that you can operate your store 24/7 from the comfort of your room and attract buyers globally. To succeed,  it is important you register your e-commerce business with the relevant government agency of your country and obtain the permit to operate legally.

Another is to file your tax as at when due. With all these being said I think the best time to move from learning how to start an e-commerce business to taking action is now. 

Similar Posts

One Comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *