October 25, 2020
7 min read

How to Start eCommerce Business from Scratch [2021]

Want to start an eCommerce business? COVID-19 pandemic has shown us that e-commerce is a vital industry that can always thrive.

Within the first four months of the 2020 lockdown, 85,000 thousand businesses launched online.

On the other hand, 750,000 businesses were forced to close their physical stores. These stats have shown that 2021 is the best year for you to start an eCommerce business.

And the good news is that you don’t need to be a pro in marketing to get your e-commerce business running; this article will teach you everything you need to know about creating an online presence for your physical business.

Let’s look at how to start your e-commerce business from scratch in 2021.

#1. Choose Your eCommerce Business Model

There are several possible eCommerce businesses you can do in 2021, each having a different model. A business model helps you define your target audience and the nature of products or services you will market.

The five major classes of e-commerce business models are:

  • Business to Business (B2B): B2B is a model in which a business sells to another business. A good example is Samsung selling smartphone screens to Apple
  • Business to Customer (B2C): This is the common e-commerce model you’re probably accustomed to. It involves selling a product or service from a business to a customer or end-user. An example is Apple selling smartphones to you.
  • Customer to Customer (C2C): A common example of this model is seen in eBay. On eBay, people sell their used products to interested people. In this case, the seller and buyer see both customers of a bigger business. So, it’s a customer-to-customer transaction.
  • Customer to Business (C2B): As a customer, you could also sell a product or service to a business. For instance, a seller on Fiverr, who doubles as a customer on the platform, may sell a gig to a business that needs specific services.
  • Business to Government (B2G): Another business model is seen when businesses sell products to government agencies. The business, in this instance, is called a “government contractor.” The nature of products or services that the government may buy from businesses is infinite.

#2. Do an eCommerce Niche Research

Once you know the business model you want to operate, the next step is to determine the niche you want to focus on.

A niche is a focus area or industrial sector. It’s important because it gives you direction and heightened focus.

To niche down, you need to specialize in a small unit of a large industry.

For instance, fashion is a broad niche. The mistake most entrepreneurs make is to start an eCommerce business centered on such a broad niche. They may end up selling every fashion item that comes their way.

A smarter focus on smaller parts of fashion such as men’s fashion, women’s fashion, shoes, bags, underwear, or any smaller division that will make you a specialist.

You can apply this same trick to any industry, including health, foods, tech, pets, etc. However, before you choose a niche, you need to consider the following:

  • How lucrative is the niche?
  • How much competition does it have?
  • Will the niche require a particular skill set?
  • What is my target market?

#3. Define Your Target Market

The fastest way to failure is to assume your products and services are meant for everybody. If you work with this mindset, you will expend your energy on the wrong sets of people.

Defining your target market involves identifying the exact demography for your product or service. You may need to draft a buyer persona to achieve this.

A buyer persona is a document or design that shows the characteristics of your ideal buyer or customer. The ideal customer is a full reflection of the people you want to target.

When drafting a buyer persona, you should consider the following:

  • Age bracket: is your product meant for kids, teenagers, or adults? Is there a particular age bracket that can only use the product?
    If it’s for kids, you need to remember that the parents will see your e-commerce site and purchase the item for their kids. Hence, your target audience, in this case, are parents.
  • Gender: Certain products are gender-specific. For instance, if you intend to run a women’s fashion e-commerce business, it only makes sense you make your site appealing to women.
  • Location: You don’t sell winter suits for someone living close to the Sahara Dessert. Selling a refrigerator to a visitor in Antarctica is pointless. You’ve got to know if your goods are befitting for people living in specific locations.
    This applies to all forms of products.
  • Buying Power: Have you notice that Lamborghini doesn’t run adverts on TV? No offense, but the reason remains that people who can afford those cars are scarcely sitting in front of a TV watching a soap opera.
    Likewise, you’ve got to target your products to those who can afford them.
  • Lifestyle Habits: If you want to start an e-commerce business from scratch in 2021, you need to research your ideal customer’s daily lifestyle habits.
    Beyond your product or service, what do they like doing? What kind of personality do they sustain? These questions and many more will help you in your marketing too.

#4. Register Your Ecommerce Business and Brand Name

Registering your business is a way of making it a legal entity. Every country has its law as regards business registration.

You need to know the country whose laws you want to subscribe to. To register your business and brand name, contact the agency involved in your country.

Also, it is possible to register your business in another country. However, it does not apply to all countries.

The United States is one of the countries that allows you to register a business even if you’re not living there or have a physical presence there.

Registering your business also means you’re ready to subscribe to the government’s tax structure for such businesses.

#5. Buy A Domain Name

In the most basic definition, a domain name is simply the name of your website. Domain names typically have the structure: “name,” “extension.”

For example, Facebook’s domain name is Facebook.com, where “Facebook” is the “name” and “.com” is the “extension.” There are lots of other extensions such as “.net”, “.gov”, “.org”, “.biz”, etc.

You need a domain name to build an online store. It’s your online store’s address on the internet.

There are approximately 366.8 million registered domain names. This makes it more difficult to choose a domain name.

Most of the common domain ideas you would think of is already probably taken by someone else. So you may have to be creative in your choice of domain names.

You may use the name of your business to coin a domain name. When you’re done, check it on WhoIs or ICANN to know if it’s available or taken.

If your domain name idea is not available, you may also have to try lots of other ideas until you arrive at something good. In all you do, ensure that your domain name coincides with your business name.

At least, ensure they are closely related. As such, you may want to check the business’s availability as a business name and a domain name before registering both.

You can buy a domain name from any of these companies:

#6. Create Your Online Store

I know this is the part you’ve probably been waiting for. When you’ve got every other thing figured out, the next thing is to create your online store from scratch or using any of the popular store builders such as:

  • Shopify
  • Magento
  • Wix
  • Squarespace
  • WooCommerce on WordPress
  • Square Online
  • BigCommerce
  • Volution
  • Zyro
  • PrestaShop
  • OpenCart

Each of these store builders has tools that you can use to create your online store. However, they differ from one another in features and functionalities.

You could either design your store yourself or hire the services of an expert to do so.

We’ve written a comprehensive guide on ecommerce development here.

#7. Upload Content on Your Store and Optimize for SEO

Content in this context refers to the products or services you’re offering. If it’s products, load their pictures and every other content that helps your audience understand what they’ll pay for.

It is also ideal to have a blog section on your online site. You need it for SEO purposes. When you publish articles on your blog centered on certain keywords, you increase your site’s capability to rank for such keywords on Google.

There are lots of SEO best practices to carry out. You could either do them yourself or hire the services of a professional.


As ecommerce continue to thrive you can claim your online identity and reach more audience with this complete guide on how to start an ecommerce business.

Rasheid Scarlett

CEO and Founder

Rasheid has an expansive web development experience in providing superior IT solutions for any industry.

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