19/09/20238 min

The 10 essentials before creating your ecommerce business

By Kerry Croft

Knowing the market, the competition, the target audience, your brand, your business plan and how to market your site are all essential elements for growing a company. In this article, we will explore each of these points in more detail.

1. Understanding your market

First of all, it is important to know the size of the market you want to enter. This will help you assess demand and the growth potential for your business. Understanding the opportunities and challenges the market may present in advance will help you to prepare. If there is gap in the market for what you’re offering, this is a promising sign for your business. 

2. Know your competitors

In a digital world, competition is fiercer than ever. Customers can compare several e-commerce sites and their offers with just a few clicks. So, it's important to understand what your competing companies offer, their price ranges, marketing practices, and market trends. In-depth competitive analysis can help you identify gaps in the market where customer demand is not being met, and adapt to that demand.

3. Know your target customers

Understanding the motivations, behaviors, and needs of your target customers can help define every part of your business growth strategy; from pricing to marketing. It is advisable to build a detailed profile with, for example, the age, gender, income and occupation of your target customers. This will help you better understand and respond to their needs, most likely resulting in increased sales.

4. Building your brand

Brand is what influences the perception of your business in the eyes of customers. This starts with the choice of name and continues to your marketing communications. To create a brand, it is important to define the purpose of your business, the products and services it offers, the features that set it apart from the competition, and the features that will most attract your target customers. Once you've answered these questions, you can start building a brand voice and visual identity that will best communicate them to your customers.

5. Create your business plan

Writing a business plan is crucial: it should include objectives, strategies, goals and projected results for your business. It's a great way to stay on track as you grow, and secure capital with a bank or investors. A well-done business plan will also allow you to quickly identify weaknesses in your business and where you will need help or training.

6. Take care of your marketing

For startups with a limited marketing budget, social media platforms offer a free way to talk about their brand, build an audience, and connect with prospects. Email marketing can also be an effective method to entice people to subscribe, for example with discounts.

7. Anticipating risks

At the beginning of each week, make a to-do list and use your business plan as a point of reference to make sure you stay aligned with your goals and identify any areas of concern.

Finding a mentor is also a great tactic. A person that is already successful in business, who can provide guidance, advice, and ideas, is a great help for any new business.

Monitor your budget

Speaking of risk, one of the main reasons businesses fail is because they lack money. To keep cash flow healthy, remember the key points: 

  • Make a budget and stick to it. Prioritize expenses – suppliers should always be paid on time. 
  • Minimize set-up costs.
  • Compare suppliers to choose the offer that best suits your budget and needs.
  • Minimize wasted time by automating tasks as soon as possible.
  • Use freelancers until you can hire internal resources

9. Delegate tasks

Even the hardest working and most passionate entrepreneurs can't do everything themselves. This is how mistakes are made. 

Assess your strengths and weaknesses, then outsource where you can to experts. There are also countless software and technology options to automate many of your processes.

10. Don't forget the legal aspects

The less exciting side of starting a business, but so important!  Here's a quick overview of some of the things you'll need to consider: registering your business, getting insurance, filing a patent if necessary, GDPR compliance, employee labor rights, health and safety.

What's next?

You’re almost ready to go! Once these preliminary steps have been completed, set up your site and all the partners necessary for the proper functioning of your e-commerce business. Choose your CMS, marketplaces, and essential modules like payment and shipping.

Are you planning to sell internationally? Make sure you choose a reliable partner with experience in cross-border shipping, and integrate a module that will facilitate the management of shipments on a daily basis.

DHL Express offers a variety of solutions for both small and large businesses. For PrestaShop users, the official DHL Express Commerce free module  allows e-merchants to manage all their shipments from several channels: CMS and marketplaces!

To find out more about DHL Express' offer for e-merchants (deliveries to individuals and professionals, returns, IT tools): https://ecommerce.dhl.fr/outils-informatiques/

De Kerry Croft

Kerry, Ecommerce Business Development Director for DHL Express UK, has been with the company for over 6 years. With more than 10 years of experience in the ecommerce industry, helping to support and grow e-commerce customers globally

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