How to start an E-commerce: Step-by-step

By:
Heloise Montini

This is the year for e-commerce. We can do everything online. 

We can keep in touch with our friends, work remotely, and we can do our shopping online. And we are shopping online for everything.

So, your mind starts working, wondering ways to improve your income or to achieve the financial independence you have always dreamed of. It is only natural that 2020 is the year you realize to be the moment to put this dream into practice.

To help you pursue your goals, we prepared this article with tips and tricks to open your own business still this year and thrive.

 Let’s talk about what you need to open and to succeed as e-commerce, and how you can streamline your work using web forms. By the end of this article, you’ll  see one feature that MightyForms offers that can make your business bloom and become outstanding. It’s the possibility of receiving payments through your forms, with the Stripe integration.

What do you need to start an online business?

Shop store Open sign

A business plan, a company name, and products or services. You must prepare yourself before going online. Opening a business is like baking a cake. First, you buy the ingredients, then you set up your space, turn on the oven, mix everything in the right order. Only then you can bake it. Once it’s baked and gets cold, you can eat it. You can’t skip any part of the process, neither forget any ingredient. Everything must be done with precision. 

Now, if you do all this preparation to bake a cake, can you imagine the care and the organization you’ll have to do before opening your own business?

Here go the ingredients you need to “bake” your business.

Niche research

You must know your audience. Your products, your design, even the company name, must relate to the niche you select. You need to target a small portion of the community and direct your efforts towards them.

But why do you need a niche? After all, companies like Amazon are for everyone, why can’t your business also target everyone? Simply because you would need a massive budget to accomplish that. If you want to succeed in e-commerce within a modest budget, you’ll have to niche down.

Research about successful companies within the same niche. Find out where they got it right and what they’ve done it wrong. Learn from their mistakes. And do better with your own business. Be different. Be outstanding. Don’t go doing the same old thing everyone else is doing. Take the bold step. But inside your niche.

Define the target market

One of the most important things in your online business is to define the target market. Define the age range, gender, and anything else that may be relevant for your business. For example, if you’re selling makeup, you must know the age group you’re targeting in order to produce the package, decide the colors and the types of product. Define what your product can do for the customer. And promote this idea to target the right audience.

There are no rules more important than the “know your target audience” rule when you’re opening your own business. Especially if it’s online. People have to find you among several other businesses. And some of them have more established names and status than your newly created business. Targeting makes it easier for your ideal customer to find you.

Define your products or services

You have a great idea and then decide to open your online business. But a good idea isn’t enough. You need a plan. You need to define who your target audience is. And you need to define what you are going to offer to your customer.

You must ask some important questions when defining your product or service idea. Questions like: 

What is your company?

What’s your company's purpose?

What can your customers expect from you?

How can your product/service make the clients' lives better?

These questions help you to define your product or service offer. Without clear answers to these questions, it will be confusing and difficult to set up your online business. 

Create the Branding.

Your customer must be able to identify your products right away. So, you create patterns to help them find you online. 

Brand Identity elements that must be established: 

- Company Name

Your company name must be unique and  define the identity of your business. It also has to relate to the product or service you’re offering. Make it simple so it can be easy for people to memorize it.

- Logo

Bright, outstanding, yet, simple. That’s the ideal logo for any brand. Online business has a few seconds to conquer new leads, and minutes to convert them. People move fast when online. So, the logo has to be recognizable  by your customers. It’s also what reassures them that they are in fact on your website, in case of recurring customers.

- Design

Create an easy-to-navigate and clear website, with the right amount of forms and CTA’s that yields increased conversion rates. Study which  colors and typography you can use to create a better impression and that makes people trust your product. Take other businesses as inspiration. Find out what works for your niche and target audience. 

What elements do you need to make your business succeed?

Your objective is to thrive. And to do so you must work hard and be prepared. Pay close attention to all details you need, especially documentation of  legal and financial aspects. Learn about all the taxes and forms your online business needs to be in compliance.

Legal Information

The first item you need to succeed is to observe any regulation, follow all specific legal requirements to your business .

You can check our article on what forms you need to start a small business to find all the documentation required and if you need to register your business.

Once you comply with any legal aspect of your business, you can then carry on and keep planning your business.

Write a Business plan

Let’s picture a little story. You decide you need a weekend getaway. You get in your car and just start to drive it. 

The car breaks down in the middle of nowhere. It starts to rain and suddenly gets cold. You don’t have any warm clothes with you. Your luggage is minimum. To make it any worse , your cell phone is dead. That sounds like a frightening situation, right? To avoid that is why you always plan ahead any getaway or trip.

The same goes for your business.

You want it to succeed, therefore, you need a business plan. You must prevent any situation that can cause investment loss.

And a great business plan has, among many factors :

  • A summary of your business . Describe what your business is, how it’s different from what’s already in the market, what it is that you do better, how you can improve it . your mission should be included in this part of the business plan. You should also include financial information and the growth plan.

  • Target market analysis. Any business you’re starting needs a target audience. And you must understand this audience. It is the only way to direct products and services towards quality leads. You can’t aim at everyone, because then you won’t reach anyone. Add to your business plan your target audience, build a sales persona, and identify your competitors. Research is the key here.

  • Marketing Strategy. One more important detail on your business plan is how you’ll direct your business marketing strategy. Your marketing strategy must fit your needs and a specific market research can help you build the best strategy. What is your plan to attract and retain new customers? This is a requisite of your business plan. It can include social media, word-of-mouth, email marketing, SEO, paid ads, among several other strategies. You must go where your audience is. Once again, knowing your audience is the secret to success.

If you are looking to start in the baking business, you're in luck! We've written a whole step-by-step on how to start an online bakery.

What forms your e-commerce needs

Forms can make your processes faster and easier to manage. As an e-commerce, there are several forms you can employ, and some that you must have. For example - you can’t operate without a contact form, a lead generation form, and an order form.

When building your forms, keep in mind your niche and the business personality.

Here you have a few forms examples:

Contact Form

Contact Form

Contact forms will be the most accessed forms on your website. It’s how people get in touch with your business and connect with it. It’s a simple form, with few fields. You’re interested in knowing who is contacting your business and why. So, don’t ask unnecessary questions here.

Payment Form

Payment Form

Your order form is how people will make a purchase. One of the most important forms on your page. Perhaps is the one you can’t afford  not to have. You are an e-commerce, which means you’re offering products or services online. And the order form is how you’re going to keep your orders on track.

Enable the SMS notification feature, so you can always be notified of a new submission.

Lead Generation Form

Lead Generation Form

Another simple form. 

With a lead generation form, the main rule is to design a compelling CTA. Your job with this form is to convince the lead to give out their email address to you. To do so you just need to follow a few steps, as you can see on this blog post.

Remember to keep it short and to the point.

Booking Form

Booking Form

Any kind of service you offer that needs to be scheduled can make use of a booking form. It’s not exclusive for hotels and other hospitality services. 

You can collect any relevant information you need to complete the reservation for the service. Ask all the questions you need, watching for the form length. And, of course, you can provide a payment method for the service using the form.

Receive payments with Stripe

As an e-commerce, you’re selling products or services. If you can accept payments on your forms you can avoid waste of time with other payment systems or methods. For example: instead of waiting for the client to send you the payment through a  bank check, or if the client comes in-person in order to pay you (which is a waste of time), you can allow the payment straight on the form, making it easier both for you and your client.

Thinking of that, MightyForms now allows for  Stripe integration in order for payments to be accepted right on the form. All that helps your company grow.

How does the Stripe integration work?

Stripe is an online payment service. It’s made for businesses, small or big. The objective is to help entrepreneurs optimize their e-commerce and boost their online sales. 

The integration with MightyForms allows e-commerce to make their sales straight on the form. You don’t have to resort to other resources or redirect the clients through other steps  in order  to complete the payment.

Enabling Stripe with MightyForms is very simple. The first step is to create your form, using a template, or from scratch.

Then you add the Stripe field and sign up with your Stripe account.

Drag-and-drop, or just click on the plus sign to have that field added.

Add Stripe to an online form

Set up the products and its pricing. Add the products from your Stripe list, selecting those you’ll  be selling online.

At last, you personalize your form with your branding. Never forget to use your logo and branding in all your forms.

There you are, you set the payment method on your form.

Let the Stripe field calculate everything for you in order to display  the cost of each product or service.

Why should my business accept payments through a form? 

With all that was said you can still wonder why your business needs a Stripe account and why your forms should allow payments.

Well, we are going to clarify this for you.

When you have payments made straight on your forms, you make it easier for you and your customer. 

For you because now you can have all your revenue/earnings  organized in a single place. You can receive for each purchase on your website, without having to set up additional  specifications on how the client can pay you.

Receiving payments on the form can also boost your sales. That’s because your clients might feel more comfortable knowing in advance how much they are spending and can pay you through a trustworthy payment service. 


Discount for nonprofits

MightyForms and Stripe offer a discount to all nonprofit organizations. We support your cause and understand how hard it is to maintain your costs as a nonprofit organization.

Get in touch with us and have access to the best form builder on the market.

You can learn how to use forms to gather more donations on this blog post.


Final Thoughts

E-commerce works better with in-form online payment. That’s a fact.

Your business must offer a complete user experience. That’s how you grow your conversions. And also how you can become trustworthy and increase leads.

Be bold, but also wise.

Sign up for MightyForms and get the best of your e-commerce.


By:
Heloise Montini

Heloise Montini is a journalist and SEO specialist. She writes about travel, news, and, as a hobby, creative writing. She is always available for new challenges and learning.