How to start an ecommerce business from scratch

how to start an ecommerce business startup
Ecommerce startups are booming and a viable option for many, but how do you get started?

Ecommerce business is booming, in fact, there has been a 221% growth in ecommerce sales worldwide from 2014 (source). Shopping habits are changing and people are moving online. This has been accelerated even further because of the current unprecedented times we are living in. But, like many businesses, ecommerce can be a challenging place to start. We’ve put together a step by step guide on how to start your own ecommerce business from scratch.

Start with research 

First of all, start with research. This might sound obvious but you need to make sure you’re covering all aspects before you dive in and determine which ecommerce area you’re interested in. For example, will you be selling services or products? And will your products be physical or digital? How does this look on an ecommerce site? 

Once you have done your research and figured out the details you can determine the business model you need. It is important to note that there are multiple types of ecommerce businesses such as dropshipping, wholesaling and warehousing models. Only once you establish the best one for you can you get started on the rest of it! You will also need to consider elements such as profits margins and costs of running your business. This is more complicated than it sounds and requires a lot of attention. 

Find your USP

As with any business you need to figure out what makes you unique. What makes you stand out for your competitors? Why should people come to you first? This is often something that startups try to figure out in the wrong order - you need to find your USP before you do everything else so that you can market yourself around it. If you’re selling subscriptions, for example, what makes your subscription model so great? 

Establish your brand

Once you’ve done your research and established your USP you need to get going with what your brand is going to look like. Investing in a graphic designer to get yourself an effective logo is a good start. You need to consider how your brand will look on advertising and on elements such as your packaging. Are the colours easily transferable? Does your logo help explain your business? This is an important step to spend maximum time and effort on. You can make tweaks as you go through the process but a good foundation will help you as you go through the process of setting up your ecommerce startup.

Registering your business

Pretty much at the same time you establish your brand you’re going to need to register your business. Obviously you need to do this officially but you also need to register your domain name. If you’re completely new to this all, your domain name is the name of your website. I.e. for this website the domain name is In order to register your domain name you can go to various websites, called a domain host or registrar, and pick a name that nobody else is using. You then pay an annual fee for this name. Note that the price of the domain varies greatly on the demand. If you pick something that lots of people are going to want to buy the cost will be far greater than something quite niche and random. Even if you’re not ready to launch it’s worth registering your domain name so that it’s yours and nobody else can take it!

Create your website

Once you have registered your domain name you can then think about creating your website. When creating your website there are many aspects that you need to carefully consider. First of all you need to make sure that your user experience is logical and easy to use. Many websites fail on the first hurdle. If there’s too many clicks to get to where you want to be or too much going on this can really put people off purchasing. You also need to think carefully about your search engine optimisation (SEO). Yes, that’s what those three letters mean! This means optimising your site for search engines so that you actually come up when people search for a business like yours - a very important and effective way of getting more traffic to your website (and therefore selling more things!).

Market your business

There’s no point in having a great website if nobody is getting to it so SEO is important but so are other aspects of your marketing plan. (yes you need a marketing plan). Set up social media accounts so you can drive people to your products (people can even purchase through some platforms now!) and give yourself another platform to shout about your business. Also think about advertising on social and on search engines. This can be done with a relatively low budget and is an ideal advertising solution for ecommerce startups.

Design your packaging

An important part of any ecommerce business is the packaging they use. Not only can it be a great marketing tool but it can also give a great impression to your customers. As an ecommerce startup you’re going to want to make a good impression. Think about the quality of the materials you want to use and what the design says about your brand. 

Think about your fulfilment

Now, this is a very important element to any ecommerce business and is something that every ecommerce startup needs to consider carefully. Once you’ve got your website, branding and marketing sorted - how do you get your products from A to B safely and securely? For many ecommerce startups, using a 3PL is a good solution. To summarise, a 3PL performs all logistic processes on behalf of a businesses (and under the name of that business) but the business is still very much involved in the process. A 3PL can save a business time and money, increase their scalability, improve their customer service, and expand their reach. There are many ways in which a 3PL can help your business grow and expand, you can read our blog all about 3PLs, if you would like to find out more about a 3PL might be able to help you and your business.

Should you need any help with the packaging and fulfilment for your ecommerce startup please do get in touch with us here at Complete Packaging. We have over 20 years of experience in the industry and are here to help.

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