The internet has made opening an online business — and becoming successful it — easier than ever.
It has changed the retail landscape and has given consumers an easier way to buy their favorite products.
But more importantly, it has given business owners a way to capitalize on the online connections that can be built and solidified across the world.
But just because it’s easy to launch an online business doesn’t mean you’ll be successful.
In fact, you’ll need to work hard, put some time in, and arm yourself with the right strategies and tools if you want to make money.
That’s why today we’re here to share with you some of the best ways to bootstrap your eCommerce business.
1. Identify and Validate Your Niche
It’s not enough to be passionate about a particular niche and want to open an online business that relates to it.
Sure, you should love what you’re doing because if you’re not interested in the industry you work in, being successful becomes more challenging.
But you also need to make sure that the product or service you want to offer customers is competitive enough to generate revenue.
One of the easiest ways to check the popularity of your business idea is to use the free keyword tool Ubersuggest.
When you enter a keyword into Ubersuggest, you’ll see popular keywords related to your idea.
You’ll also see the following helpful data:
- Search volume
- SEO and paid difficulty
- Average cost per click (CPC)
- SERP analysis including estimated visits, social shares, and domain
Knowing whether your business idea is viable (and not so saturated you’ll never generate enough revenue) is the key to starting a successful eCommerce business.
2. Decide on a Business Model
Once you’ve decided what kind of products to sell online from home, you’ll need to decide on a business model.
And if you’re bootstrapping your eCommerce business, which means you’re using your own resources to launch, you’ll need to get creative.
The traditional way to open up an online shop is to set up an eCommerce platform on a popular content management system (CMS) like WordPress.
One of the most widely used platforms for WordPress is WooCommerce.
With WooCommerce, you can build a website, publish blog content, and upload and sell products and services from your self-hosted website.
Another option is to use a hosted solution like Shopify. Rather than build your own website and invest in hosting, you can use a platform like Shopify to create an online store and sell.
The problem with these business models is that not only do you have to have a viable business idea, but you’ll also need a way (and the money) to create products, ship to customers, and deal with returns.
For those just starting out in the online retail space, dropshipping might be a better solution.
With dropshipping, all you have to do is market your business to your target audience and sell products.
Your suppliers deal with fulfilling customer orders, shipping products, and storing inventory in their own warehouses.
This method of selling online is not only more cost-effective, but it’s also much easier on you because you take a more hands-off approach to selling online.
Though you’ll still have to create a website with the items you want to sell, you have more flexibility when it comes which platform you use, whether it’s a hosted solution or not, and what products you offer.
3. Don’t Pay a Designer
Web designers are amazing at what they do. That’s why so many UI and UX designers charge what they do for even simple things like creating a business logo.
Luckily for you, you don’t need to pay big bucks to a professional to design a business logo for your eCommerce shop.
At least not right away.
You can use any number of free logo generators out there to get you started. One of the best is the Logo Generator by Shopify.
Start by choosing a relevant industry:
Next, choose a Visual Style:
Then, enter your business’ name, and even add a slogan if you want.
The logo generator will want to know where you plan to use the logo. For example, on a website, in social media, etc.
You will then see several pre-designed logos based on your choices:
Once you choose the template you like, you then have the opportunity to customize it further. For instance, change the business name, slogan, font style, colors, layouts, and even add icons.
When you’ve finished, you can download your final logo and use it on your website.
4. Utilize Social Media
There’s no denying the power social media can have on an up and coming eCommerce business. And the great thing about social media is that it’s free to use.
There are a few ways to take advantage of different social media platforms to increase brand awareness, drive traffic to your site, and even boost sales:
- Build a presence on platforms that your target audience frequents
- Regularly post messages that include links back to your website’s
blog and product pages
- Run contests and get people involved in sharing your content with
their friends and family
- Engage with people when they leave comments on your posts
- Interact with your target audience on other industry professionals’
social media accounts to establish yourself as an authority
The key to a good social media post, no matter which platform you use, is visually appealing imagery.
Images catch people’s attention right away and are great for getting people to take action.
You can use the free online tool Canva to create social media specific images to add to your messages.
Choose from a variety of templates and customize your images to match your brand and post a message.
By creating one-of-a-kind images for your social media accounts, you’ll stand out from the competition and increase your chances of growing a successful business.
Bootstrapping an eCommerce business can be challenging when you’re on a limited budget and don’t know where to start. But people all over do it and do it successfully.
If you want to venture into online retail, without the financial help of anyone else, take the time to have a plan in place before you get started.
From there, learn from others’ successes and failures and arm yourself with strategies and tools that are known to help entrepreneurs just starting out succeed in the competitive online world.
Only then will you see your startup begin to grow into a thriving online business.
Sam Makad is a business consultant. He helps small & medium enterprises to grow their businesses and overall ROI. You can follow Sam on Twitter, Facebook, and Linkedin.