How to start in ecommerce

A beginners guide to getting started with ecommerce in 2020

The basic stages you will need to become familiar with and advice on what to consider

This article was written by my daughter during the early stages of setting up our Accidental Mentor website.

Deciding a product

When you are beginning your ecommerce site you need to decide on what product you are going to sell.

It might be better to have fewer categories of products and more focused products. Amazon may have thousands of varied products and make lots of money, but it is two decades old and has had time to build up its range of products and you cannot hope to compete with it.

It is more realistic to start off with a smaller range of products that are more niche.

When you are choosing your product, it needs to already have a competitive market surrounding it, if there is no competition this might indicate that there is no market for that product.

Also, do not pick an overly crowded product market where it is dominated by major brands and there is too much competition to try and squeeze into a gap in the market.

Get a domain name

The first thing to do when setting up your ecommerce is to get a domain name for your website.

This needs to be easy to spell and not too long, and also not forgettable.

It is also helpful to include a keyword that is related to your product, so people know immediately what your website is selling and also if they search into google the domain name will show up higher in the results.

Domain names can be purchased through hosting companies or domain registers; however, some are much more expensive depending on how in demand that specific name is.

Commerce platform

Consider using a commerce platform that largely simplifies setting up an ecommerce site.

Whilst it may come at a monthly cost, this might be small compared to the income from sales that you make on an effective online store.

Shopify allows you to create and customize an online store in a simple and easy to understand manner. It offers services such as inventory management, a payment shopping cart, and shipping options.

Shopify is cloud-based and hosted which means that you do not have to worry about or pay for web servers and software and also deal with any problems that may occur regarding the site performance.

This is especially useful at certain points of the year such as Christmas and valentine’s day where demand on many websites increases significantly.

All this extra traffic could impact your web server and the web site’s performance, even potentially causing your sight to crash and resulting in no sales.

The cloud hosting that Shopify offers will prevent disasters like this and means you for not have to worry about the increasing demand for your website.

The main benefit to Shopify is that you do not have to be technically literate, its whole premise is to simplify the process of creating an ecommerce website, so it is very user-friendly and fast to pick up.

Furthermore, it has support options where you can have access to technical support from the Shopify staff if you have inquiries or issues.

Search engine optimization.

Now you have a domain and products it is time to sell them.

However, to sell products first of all you need to get traffic to your page so that people can view what your site has to offer.

There is no point having fantastic and good value products if nobody even sees them.

To get traffic to your site it is very important to do research on search engine optimization.

SEO is essentially how to rank up higher in a google search. There are two types of SEO on-page and off-page SEO.

On-page means the factors that you can control regarding your website whilst off-page SEO is factors outside of the website such as links from another website or social media exposure.

For on-page SEO you need to use keywords in your product descriptions and product title, this is so google recognizes what your website is about and pushes your website higher up search results.

When people search google for a product the majority do not go past the first page as the results that come up will likely satisfy the requirements of what they were searching for.

This means that if you could manage to get your product on the first page, and even better the first search result then you will get so much extra traffic and many more sales.

Social media or paid ads are good for bringing traffic to your website, but these methods require spending money on as well as effort.

Effective SEO means that once you achieve a top rank then the sales should come regularly without the expense or recurring effort.

Developing a list of keywords is the first and most important step in any SEO initiative. Keywords need to be highly relevant to your audience and effectively organized for action.

However, it is very difficult to reach the number one spot, and this is especially true if you focus on competitive high-volume terms such as women’s clothing or men’s shoes.

Whilst if you do sell these products these terms might seem like an obvious common-sense option to use as keywords, they will easily be outranked by retail giants. You need to use words that are more niche and focused on your products.

Competitor analysis

This is an analysis of your competitors, once you have evaluated your strengths and weaknesses of your competition, you can begin to create a business plan that gives your company an advantage.

In your analysis, you should monitor how other brands are marketing, pricing and distributing their products.

You should also examine who their target customers are, their main unique value-add for their products, shipping approach, and customer service elements and so on.

Competitive analysis can take many forms depending on what you want to evaluate your competitors.

Pick a list of competitors to study and do some data collecting into a spreadsheet. There are several different tools available that can make the analysis simpler.

For example, SimilarWeb offers insights into estimated monthly visits and traffic sources to a website so you can locate where competitors are locating their marketing efforts.


To try and generate more traffic and get more sales you need to create some marketing techniques for your ecommerce site.

An email list is good for this and you can do this by having an opt-in option on your website, a social media campaign to gain subscribers, or host a giveaway where they enter their email in the hope of winning one of your products.

After you have their email address then you can email them with updates of your products or any sales or deals that you are doing that will attract them to your site.

Social media marketing is valuable, especially if your product is aimed at younger generations.

Whilst this will cost a fee, if it increases traffic to your website of people who will genuinely want your product then it will be profitable in the end.

Product page

Product photography plays a major role on your product page.

If the product does not look good or is unclear in the picture, then customers will be put off immediately.

Online clothes retailers invest in expensive photoshoots with models and backdrops, compared to just a photo of a piece of clothing laid out on a plain background this looks so much more enticing.

These photos will appear in search engines and on the advertisements you use in your marketing strategy, so it is of utmost importance that these are the best quality and professionally done as possible.

As well as pictures of your products you are going to need a description of that product which gives information to customers.

This information needs to be understandable and not too long and answer any questions that the customer may have about the product.

For example, the size of the product is always essential, especially as this is not always clear in the photo.

If the customer is left with many unanswered questions, they may simply move onto the next ecommerce website that has clearer pictures and more detailed product description and you’ve lost out on a potential customer.

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