Skip to content

Starting an ecommerce business is easier than ever before.

If you’ve ever wanted to be your own boss, starting an ecommerce business might just be the answer you’ve been looking for. Whether you purchase a ready-made store-in-a-box, add a storefront to your existing blog, or set yourself up on an existing marketplace such as eBay, Amazon, or Etsy, you can have your own shop in a matter of minutes.

Put that Open For Business sign next to your name, upload your logo and a few high-resolution images of what you are selling and Voila! You’re an entrepreneur!

Treat yourself to a latte. Send out a few celebratory tweets. And now let’s get down to the real work of starting an ecommerce business: becoming a success.

10 Steps To Successfully Starting An Ecommerce Business

1. Build from the Ground Up
2. Find Your Niche
3. Choose the Right Platform for Your Ecommerce Business
4. Design Your New Ecommerce Business
5. Set Up Your Payment System
6. Tackle Abandoned Carts & Other Important Issues
7. Choose Payment Options
8. Determine Shipping Costs
9. Be Mobile Friendly
10. Get the Word Out with Digital Marketing

In this article, I’ll walk you through the entire process of starting an ecommerce business. I’ll give you everything you need to set your business apart from the competition. You’ll learn what to look for in an ecommerce platform, how to choose your product, and look at the importance of design and layout. I’ll even share some insider tips on compelling content.

Let’s get started!

1. Build from the Ground Up

When it comes to starting an ecommerce business, the best way to ensure success is to begin with a solid foundation.

Your foundation will be built on the answers to two very specific questions:

  • What market gap will you fill?
  • What will you sell?

How you answer these questions will determine what your next move is. So, let’s look at each question in detail.

What market gap will you fill?

Have you ever looked at an existing product and thought of a simple way to improve it? Have you ever been at a store and thought to yourself as you scanned the aisles, “You know what they really need?”

Congratulations. You’re spotting a market gap. And that’s an almost guaranteed key to success.

If you can identify something that’s missing from the shelves of your favorite store and can find a way to fill that gap, you’ll be making life easier for your customers.

Gaps in the current markets happen all the time.

Consider the recent popularity of spinners. One woman saw the need for spinners and by creating them, she became an almost overnight success.

So the next time you’re at the market or shopping online, keep a critical eye on what’s already out there. Then ask yourself: Is there something missing? If your answer is yes, you’re one step closer to starting an ecommerce business that will stand out against the competition.

What will you sell?

Begin by looking at what you can do better than anyone else. Your experiences, skills, and knowledge are your strengths. Build on them.

Do you instinctively know what jewelry item goes best with which outfit? You can build on that by starting an ecommerce business that sells jewelry highlighting images of complementary fashion ensemble. Your customers will never again have to struggle with choosing the right accessories.

a workman with a tool things about starting an ecommerce business with Selz do-it-for-me

Remember, if you can solve a problem for your customers you’ll keep them coming back.

2. Find Your Niche

The best businesses specialize.

You’ll attract more traffic if you are selling something that isn’t readily available at your local corner store, like this beautifully successful beard grooming online store.

While you’re thinking about what to sell, don’t forget to take into account how you’ll ship your product.

For example, if you’re thinking about selling furniture online, larger items such as sofas or refrigerators can be difficult to package and ship. Even better? Try selling digital downloads such as ebooks or workout plans where shipping isn’t even a concern!

When you’re starting an ecommerce business remember that smaller, lighter products tend to sell better than their larger, heavier, bulkier counterparts.

That’s just one reason why entrepreneurs like Tracy Matthews are pulling in six figures annually selling jewelry online.

Benefits of focusing on a niche when starting an ecommerce business include:

  • Limit your product range and stock quantities, reducing the number of unsold items.
  • Increase focus on your perfect customer and target your energy on building your ideal audience.
  • Improve the overall SEO score for your site with keywords relevant to your niche.

Standing Out In Your Niche

Think about what makes you different and why customers would want to come back to your store again and again.

  • Is your product unique? One of a kind? (For example, custom-made climbing gloves, with each pair made to the specific hand measurements of the climber).
  • Excellent customer service will always be a reason for return visits.
  • Perks (like points or discounts) can generate a lot of interest in your ecommerce business.

And never underestimate the power of having a well made, usable, durable product when you’re starting an ecommerce business. It is often enough for most customers to want to explore other items in your online shop.

3. Choose the Right Platform for Your Ecommerce Business

When you’re starting an ecommerce business, choosing the right platform can mean the difference between success and failure. And now that you’ve decided what you’re going to sell, you’ll need to choose where you will sell it.

Read more: How to Add Ecommerce to Your Website: 5 Easy Options

Ebay, Amazon, and Etsy, Oh My!

Existing online marketplaces such as eBay, Amazon, and Etsy might seem like an easy choice when you’re starting an ecommerce business, but these readymade storefronts can be more of a challenge than a benefit.

Because these platforms are easy to use, many first-time merchandisers use them – but that’s also a key downside: it’s almost impossible to stand out from the tens of thousands of other sellers competing for your customers.

Alternatives to Existing Online Marketplaces

Because of the difficulties associated with personally managing the performance, reliability, and security issues of a self-hosted platform, many entrepreneurs find using a hosted ecommerce platform a cheaper option; one with fewer headaches! That’s especially important when you’re starting an ecommerce business.

A Hosted Online Store For Your ecommerce Business

Fully customizable, hosted online stores, provide the storefront you want (where you sell your goods) along with the blog pages you need to build authority and attract repeat customers. Choose ready-made themes and apply for instant set up, or customize the design for a unique shop.

Check out these beautiful themes available at Selz:

Starting an Ecommerce Business

Insider Tip #1

Remember changing the design is simpler than switching ecommerce platforms. Don’t let the layout of a store sway you from choosing it as a platform. You can always modify the set up to meet your particular needs.

Add Ecommerce to an Existing Website

If you’re already online with a Blogger or WordPress blog, you can add an ecommerce option to your site giving customers the ability to buy directly from you. You can also add ecommerce to your current website. It’s easy. Just embed a “buy now” or “shopping cart” button to your existing website and you’re open for business.

Insider Tip #2

For maximum benefit when starting an ecommerce business, embed an online store within your existing website or blog using Selz. When you embed a store – rather than linking to an external site – customers stay with you!

The golden rule of successful ecommerce is: Never send customers away from your site!

4. Design Your New Ecommerce Business

A good looking, fully functional store or shopping cart is important when starting an ecommerce business. Thankfully, the wide variety of readily customizable themes means you can quickly do the job yourself without having to invest huge chunks of cash or learn complicated programming languages.

Design a full store with Selz, the ecommerce platform for growing businesses. Our simple drag and drop store builder is easy to use. See it in action:

Of course, if money’s no object, you can always hire a professional designer to do the job for you.

5. Set up your Payment System

You’ll have a string of customers buying your goods before you know it. That’s why it’s important to get your payment system set up early.

Every payment system should have a secure checkout with an SSL certificate.  An SSL certificate is a digital certificate responsible for authenticating your website’s identity and encrypting sensitive information sent to the server. This is a must-have and is offered to every seller here at Selz.

And remember: Never store customer credit card details on your website.

Every Selz store comes with a free SSL certificate, not just for the checkout pages like some ecommerce platforms, but for every page of your online store. This helps you build trust and credibility with your customers.

Another ecommerce business must-have is PCI Compliance. Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards compliance lets customers who want to shop at your site know that your ecommerce business meets the minimum security standards of the payment card industry.

In short, it tells your customers that their payment information is secure.

The great news is, a hosted ecommerce platform like Selz does this for you!

6. Tackle Abandoned Carts & Other Important Issues

You won’t be a success if customers don’t spend their money at your store. That’s why getting customers through the checkout process as quickly and effortlessly as possible is one of the most important keys to online sales success.

A copy of Selz abandoned cart email that sends directly from the Selz dashboard great when you're starting an ecommerce business

Currently, the online shopping cart abandonment rate is hovering around 68%. That means out of every 10 people who add an item to their shopping cart, nearly seven of them will leave your site without completing the purchase. Make it easy for visitors to your site to spend money.

With your Selz account, you can easily set up abandoned cart emails to automatically be sent to your customers. This is a simple way to get more sales while letting Selz do the heavy lifting for you!

7. Choose Payment Options

If you’re starting an ecommerce business, accepting PayPal and credit card purchases will increase sales.

With more than 143 million PayPal shoppers online, and Visa and Mastercard recording almost $100 billion dollars in online sales last year, you can increase your sales by as much as 25% by simply providing customers these payment options.

When you set up your ecommerce business with Selz, your customers will automatically have the option to pay with card, SelzPay or Paypal!

8. Determine Shipping Costs

Fast, reliable shipping is a simple, effective way to keep customers coming back to your store.

Shipping costs can make or break a customer’s decision to complete a purchase. In fact, shipping costs are the number one reason why customers abandon carts!

How to Make a Profit with Attractive Shipping Costs

If you’re starting an ecommerce business, one of the best ways to avoid shopping cart abandonment is to offer free shipping.

Don’t panic; you won’t need to offer free shipping on everything – you can be selective. Try no cost shipping on orders above a certain amount (this has the bonus of incentivizing customers to spend more to reach the free shipping level).

brick and mortar store owner wrapping a package for ecommerce business growth=

Flat Rate shipping fees for items up to a given weight or location (think “free shipping within the contiguous US”) is another way to make it easier for customers to give you their money.

Check out these shipping details for even more insider tips on how to make the most of shipping for your ecommerce business success.

9. Be Mobile Friendly

Mobile ecommerce is a big deal. Maximize on this money-spending trend when you’re starting an ecommerce business by making sure your business is mobile friendly.

The easiest way is with a website theme with a shopping cart or ecommerce solution that uses responsive mobile-friendly design, like Selz.

10. Get the Word Out with Digital Marketing

Now that your store is assembled it’s time to begin thinking about how a customer will find you.

Search engines will drive the majority of traffic to your site, but for that to happen the search engine has to be able to find your site. Taking the time to make sure your store is search engine optimized (SEO) is time well-spent when starting an ecommerce business.

It’s time to start thinking about digital marketing strategies, like compelling content and customized domain address.

Starting an ecommerce business doesn’t have to be hard. In fact, it shouldn’t be. With convenient ecommerce platforms like Selz, it has never been easier to pursue your dream of owning your own business.

Ready to get started building your ecommerce business? Sign up for a free 14-day trial of Selz and start setting up your store today!

About the author

Freedom Ahn

Freedom Ahn is an award-winning journalist and bestselling author of numerous articles, features, novels, plays, short stories, and more.

Her writing has appeared in global publications including The Independent (UK), Huffington Post (USA), The Telegraph (UK), The Chicago Sun-Times, The Los Angeles Times, The Jerusalem Post, and more.

She has worked with multinational organizations such as Aprio (HA+W), Manulife, Morgan Stanley, ADP, Deloitte, The Toronto Stock Exchange, BDO, & ADP, as well as dynamic startups & small business enterprises including Six-Figure Wealth, Targeted Blockchain Technologies, and ZipBooks.


  1. Kristen DeCosta

    Hi Lisa! You are very correct, high quality images are very valuable for your online store. Thanks for reading and commenting! -Kristen at Selz

  2. Lisa Kelly


    I think good quality images are also have a great value for eCommerce business.


  3. Catalin Zorzini

    Choosing the niche and the right ecommerce platform are probably the most important. If you choose a niche that is uber competitive you will not turn a profit very soon and if you don’t choose a good platform, you will have to figure things out on your own instead of relying on a proven system. The right platform can relieve you of the stress and hassle beginners usually go through when starting out.

Leave a Reply