Often in Digital Marketing workshops and seminars, participants ask me about how to start an e-commerce business in India. And then there are follow up questions as well such as:
- How to quickly get started?
- What is the cost of starting an e-commerce business in India?
- How can I generate money from the e-commerce business in India?
So, to answer these questions all at once, I am writing this blog on how to start a small e-commerce business in India. From business planning to website development, marketing, and final launch, I have covered everything in this blog.
I am sure you will be having a lot of other questions as well. Just feel free to ask these questions using the comment box below but make sure they are relevant to the topic. I will try my best to answer in as much detail as I can.
Before, we start, why are we even talking about taking the business online?
There are three major reasons for launching your e-commerce business in India:
- E-commerce sales are skyrocketing in India – OnePlus 6 made INR 100 Crores sales online within 10 minutes of launch.
- All your competitors are going online – Moreover, your customers, clients, and consumers are all going online to buy products or services.
- E-commerce is the future of the retail and business – Government of India’s heavy investment in e-commerce is a direct indicator that the future of business is online.
The reasons listed above are quite convincing for any entrepreneur, businessmen or businesswomen.
Now, let us start in the step by step manner – on how to start a small e-commerce business in India?
Plan Your Small E-commerce Business in India
Many young entrepreneurs out of excitement or ignorance often forget to plan their e-commerce business properly. You just cannot plan your e-commerce business on a piece of paper in one go.
Before you plan your small e-commerce business, do the following things:
- Research online the market you’re going to enter
- Follow and research your competitors’ business models and marketing strategies
- Find out who’s your target audience, and where you will easily reach them
Now, comes the actual small e-commerce business planning:
- Set your SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound) business objective(s)
- Chart out the business model of your e-commerce – business-to-business, business-to-customer, customer-to-customer, business-to-government etc.
- Plan your 7 Ps – product, price, promotion, place, people, process and physical environment
- Create weekly or monthly action plans for the first 3 months
- Define your Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) – revenue, profits, sales, conversions etc.
- Plan the work delegation part
- Finally, plan your budget and allocate the budget
You can business plan can be much more elaborative or brief. It depends upon the scale of your business, industry, and product.
Develop and Design Your Small E-commerce Business website
Now comes the most crucial part of your small e-commerce business that is your e-commerce website. Most often the business owners and entrepreneurs leave the design and structure of the website on to the developer.
Moreover, they hesitate to put in the time to research through and understand user interface (UI) and user experience (UX) of their e-commerce website. But the truth is UI and UX is extremely important and crucial for the success of your website.
The next important thing is the Content (text, graphics, and video) on your website. Find out the type and quality of content you want on your website. You will need a detailed content strategy for this and a better understanding of your site structure.
Hence, it is important that you plan your development, designing, content, UX, and UI of your website if you are really serious about its success online.
You could use the following questions and tips to create your website plan:
- What is your target audience preferences?
- What is your content strategy?
- Create a website structure using sitemaps, wireframes, and mockups
- Follow your competitors
- Create a prototype and test it
These tips and questions will get you started. For the more detailed plan, you could use the Checklist of E-commerce Website plan given below.
Finally, come the actual designing and development of your website. You may require to hire a developer/designer to help you develop a small e-commerce website.
However, with CMS such as WordPress, you could create the professional looking e-commerce website on your own. Without even having to write code.
You could take up our E-commerce Training Course that will help you to learn to create the website on WordPress and also market it online to generate leads/sales.
Prepare your marketing plan, strategies, and tactics
It is important that your small E-commerce website should start generating revenue for you and your company. That’s why you need an effective digital marketing plan that includes strategies and tactics.
Though it takes a lot of effort to properly prepare a digital marketing plan for your e-commerce business. However, you could also learn it on your own. Or you could take up our E-commerce course that will allow you to learn successful marketing strategies in a short period.
Now, what you can do to prepare a marketing plan, the following are the steps:
- set your marketing goals – make sure that each goal is the Smart goal
- list out your target audience segments
- make a content plan and strategy
- list strategies and tactics to target each audience segment
- measure using analytics
- set the marketing budget
These are the minimum steps you could follow to prepare a marketing plan. However, for a more detailed marketing plan, you could use the checklist I have given below.
I would personally recommend you to make it simple and easy to understand. And share it with all your teammates and people who will be working on the project.
Get the payment gateway for your e-commerce website
Choosing the right payment gateway is a crucial decision in your small e-commerce business in India. Because the setup cost, per transaction cost and service cost, could vary a lot.
Therefore, you will need to choose wisely. Moreover, you will need to ensure effective integration of payment gateway. That will allow the easier and faster purchase of the product/service online for your customer.
It will largely depend upon the CMS or the code of your small e-commerce website. The WordPress CMS and other popular CMSes allow easier integration of the payment gateway.
With just a few clicks you could easily integrate your payment gateway. Provided you have knowledge about how to manage your website CMS.
Following is the list of top payment gateways in India 2018:
- Bill Desk
You could choose one of the above for your small e-commerce website in India.
Find the courier partner in India
You should have courier partner from the start because otherwise, you will have to pay a lot more for standard couriers. Moreover, you will find it difficult to manage your logistics.
Moreover, the integration of your many courier partner API is also available. But in most cases, you will need technical knowledge to do it on your own or hire a developer for it.
But the most important thing you will need to take care will be that your courier partner should deliver on the maximum pin codes in India.
Following are the top courier companies in India for small e-commerce business:
- India Post
- Go Javas
- eCom Express
You could choose one of the above depending upon the preference, delivery efficiency, delivery types, pricing, and service support.
Launch and start selling online
Now, you are ready with everything you need. It is time you launch your website. But before you launch, you should do the following things first:
- create your profiles on all top social media platforms (it doesn’t matter if you use only one; just secure your name profiles/pages)
- setup, review and test your small e-commerce website
- ensure the quality of content (text, graphics, and video) is top notch and engaging
- test and review on-page SEO
- create a pre-launch marketing strategy for your e-commerce business
- implement the pre-launch campaign
Improving your small e-commerce business profitability, productivity and efficiency is an ongoing process. As you invest in efforts, time and money you will automatically, in turn, will get results.
That’s it. If you have questions just feel free to ask using the comment box below.