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Retail e-commerce sales worldwide are expected to reach US dollar 6,542 billion by 2023 as per the Statista report.

Retail e-commerce sales worldwide by Statista

That is the growth potential of e-commerce. You have the opportunity to set up an e-commerce platform and be a part of the unicorn revolution as this isn’t going to stop here.  In this article, I am going to guide you on how to start e-commerce business in India 2020

How To Find E-commerce Business Opportunities in India

The e-commerce business can be done in the following three ways. Pick the method that suits you the best.

#1. Manage Your Own Inventory

Inventory is the goods, products and services that you are offering to your customers. In the initial days managing inventory can be challenging. In such a scenario you can go for drop-shipping.

Inventory management is important because inventory impacts the actual revenues of the business. You need to have a proper understanding of the ideal inventory levels at all times to execute effectively.

You know your demand potential so you need to maintain the minimum pre-determined inventory. When the level falls below the minimum you need to maintain that for operational efficiency.

On the other hand, if you have excess inventory load to sell, then your funds get locked in the inventory that adds to the overall cost.

All of the inventory management depends on how efficient you are in forecasting the demand for a particular product. The best strategy is to look back and analyze the past one month, three or six-month sales data.

You can also use the Google trend to measure the demand for a particular product. Keep a minimum level of inventory based on the past sales data. Check your marketing efforts accordingly to match sales.

Try adjusting the inventory levels according to the demand. Maintain a record of the inventory, marketing efforts, and actual sales. With experience, you will be able to manage your inventory in due course.

#2. Managed by Amazon (FBA)

Another way is “Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA)” where you sell products on a massive, Amazon e-commerce platform.

FBA program offers a high degree of scalability by allowing anyone to sell their goods on the Amazon platform. The benefit of FBA is that the inventory is taken care of by Amazon.

Amazon stores your products ship them to customers, handles all refunds & returns and helps with customer service.

With FBA, you are free to focus on activities such as driving traffic to your product page or optimizing your conversion.

You can use the FBA model for private labeling where the idea is to establish a brand or label the products and sell on Amazon. Private labeling requires an initial capital but you can build a solid e-commerce business.

#3. Dropshipping

Starting an e-commerce business with dropshipping is quick as compared to the other two models as you do not have to think about the inventory. The products are shipped directly from the manufacturer to the customer.

The biggest benefit is that you are relieved from managing inventory and can dedicate the saved time on other aspects of the business like traffic, optimization, customer experience and conversion.

Dropshipping is advantageous to businesses that do not have their own storage space. You don’t require a lot of investments and can start dropshipping with minimal funds.

Setup Your E-Commerce Shop

Few of the popular store builders for e-commerce businesses are Wix, Big Commerce, Weebly, 3D Cart, Square Space, WooCommerce and Shopify.

You can easily build an online store with WooCommerce & Shopify or can list the products on Amazon. Few points to help you set up the store are as under.

#1. Woo-Commerce With WordPress

Woocommerce offers more control over the website as you get more customization through unlimited plugins.

The platform is based on WordPress CMS, which is professional and simple to use. Woocommerce has mobile-friendly, fast and responsive themes for seamless online experience for stores of all sizes.

With Woocommerce’s inbuilt analytics option, you can easily get statistical data like total sales, sales by date, average order totals and individual customer statistics in graphs.

There are several  Woocommerce free and paid extensions to help you in marketing, payments, delivery, accounting and reporting.

Steps to Build an Ecommerce Website

  • Get a domain name and web hosting on Woocommerce
  • Through cPanel install WordPress
  • Install and activate the WooCommerce Plugin to create an online storefront
  • Few of the pages that need to be created are
    • Shopping page where the products get displayed
    • The cart which will add products selected by customers
    • The checkout page where payment and delivery method gets finalized
    • A “My Account” page for each registered user to store information and faster purchase.
  • Selection a theme to give a personalized look to the store
  • Finally, adding products to the store

#2. Shopify Store

Shopify is the best alternative for those who want a complete online store. You need not worry about the technicalities and hosting of the online store.

You can create a visually appealing online store using Shopify’s templates. The platform comes with a bare minimum theme. But you can create a store with a rich user interface.  All the themes at Shopify are mobile responsive.

You can target better with the help of Shopify’s powerful marketing tools such as custom gift cards, discount coupons, store statistics and targeted email marketing tools.

Steps to Build an Ecommerce Website

  • Sign up 14-day free trial with Shopify
  • Give your online store a name
  • Add address details which will help calculate sales tax and payments
  • On the dashboard, you can customize design
  • Choose a theme. The theme can be modified later as per requirements
  • Adding up products with descriptions, names, variants, sizes and images
  • Provide price, inventory details and weight details for shipping
  • Finally, add a payment mechanism

#3. List on Amazon

Listing on Amazon relieves you from the hassle of creating an online store and the associated technicalities. You can leverage Amazon’s high traffic channel and active buyers base to increase sales.

People do prefer shopping via marketplaces because they provide variety and all-in-one aspect at a single website. Marketplaces like Amazon create a seamless buyers experience through a single checkout and fulfillment support.

Steps for Building Amazon FBA Business

  • Create an Amazon Seller account. You can create a free of cost individual account. The professional account requires a monthly fee.
  • Do the research and choose a niche.
  • Find a supplier, look for a sample, lead time and margin.
  • Create a product listing and optimize the product page with content and keywords.
  • Drive traffic to the product page to increase sales.

If you are already influencer in the market, you can scale up with e-commerce. If you are a blogger then launch a side project.

You would like to read10 Ways to Still Profit as an Amazon Associates Affiliate in 2020

Decisions To Take Before Starting An E-commerce Business In India

#1. Own Product or Marketing Other’s Products

Both methods have an excellent opportunity, but there are some unique aspects that you must consider.

Own Product

You can craft your own products with fine details and features which will benefit the buyers. Creating your own product gives you the freedom to decide on pricing, promotions and product details.

You can keep 100% of the sales. Marketing your own products has high-income potential. Own products can help you create a brand.

On the other hand, creating products requires time, effort and money. You need to know the technicalities involved and understand the people who will be buying the product.

Marketing Other’s Product

Products require a significant amount of time and effort to create which one can avoid by marketing products.

Product creation requires money in development, which is saved when you market other products. There are plenty of existing products which can be marketed. You just need to pick the products that are the best fit for your niche.

The initial investment can be recovered with a few initial sales and does not require a large customer base. Marketing other’s products are helpful if you have a low-traffic website.

#2. Own Manufacturing or Buying From Other

Own Manufacturing 

Own manufacturing gives better control over the quality and the brand. But, it comes at the cost of time and scalability. The primary costs include purchasing of raw materials, the storage of inventory and labor.

However, the product choices are limited to your skills and available resources. The most important thing is that not all products can be made by hand.

Own manufacturing is for someone who has own unique ideas and has the resources available.

However, manufacturing own products is a time-consuming process, leaving you with less time to focus on building business.

Buying from Others

On the other hand, buying from others is a good option for starting an e-commerce business. For sourcing a product, you have the option of sourcing domestically or from an overseas supplier.

You can buy products at discounts from portals like Alibaba and Indiamart. This helps you get products at a low cost.

Buying is a good idea when you want a variation of a current product that doesn’t exist or when you haven’t validated the market.

However, the biggest disadvantage of buying is the upfront investment for initial orders. There are chances of fraud from the suppliers, especially if you are planning to purchase from overseas manufacturers.

#3. Target Audience Size

At the start, you may think that “the more customers are better.” But that does not assure higher sales.

Your products might appeal to a large number of people, but that does not mean that you should market it to everyone.

First, you need to identify the people who really want your product by focusing on what problem the product can solve. This helps you in building your store for the right audience.

Then refine your target market by identifying who has used the product or service. Refining includes target demographics whether regional, national or international, audience type by age groups and gender, or by any other attributes about your target customer segment.

How To Start E-commerce Business In India

#1. Choosing a Product or Idea

The market potential for a product can be found by knowing how many people are currently searching for the product. There are several tools that can help like Google Keyword Planner Tool, SEMrush, Jungle Scout.

Do some basic keyword research to find details like

  • organic and paid search results
  • level of competition, competitors, and their website details
  • related keywords
  • traffic

In particular, focus on three parameters to know more about your competition

You can take the help of the in-depth guide on keyword research to find profitable keywords.

Select product with following attributes

  • Decent sales volume
  • Low seasonality
  • Less than 200 reviews for the top sellers
  • Ability to improve the product.
  • Small and lightweight
  • Simple to manufacture

#2. Validate Your Idea

The next step is idea validation because if there is no market then the product may not be worth selling. Validate your idea before building an e-store.

No product demand = No revenue

To be honest, no one can tell with 100% certainty that the idea will work.

The various ways in which one can validate ideas are

#1. Prototypes 

Showing audiences a “rough draft” or a prototype. This will give a more concrete idea of what you want to sell. The product does not have to be final as the goal is simply to give people an idea of how your product might work.

Meet with people and give them the product to try out. Create a meetup group for like-minded individuals and bring the prototype. Give away free copies and gather feedback that will validate the product.

#2. Competition 

Contrary to the popular perception that competition is bad, having some sort of competition is actually good. Competition indicates the presence of a market for your idea.

#3. Monthly Searches

If the average monthly searches for the keyword is high, that indicates high search popularity.

Higher search popularity means people are actively looking out for products and that will validate your product idea.

#4. Talk to your potential customers

Before starting your online store talk to potential customers to know what the customer’s needs and whether they really like to buy your product.

Start engaging with people on social media channels by asking questions before starting anything.

#3. Getting Your Product

Depending on the product type you can

  • make a product yourself at home on a small scale
  • buy from wholesale markets and give your brand name
  • buy from small local markets or mega marts

For example, products like chocolates can be made at home in desired quantities.

Otherwise, you will need to find a manufacturer or a supplier where you could source the product. Few points to help you are

  1. To find manufacturers and suppliers use online supplier platforms like IndiaMart, Oberto, and Alibaba that have details of lakhs of suppliers and millions of products.
  1. Another way to source products is to look for local business networks and attend trade shows. This will help you connect with manufacturers or suppliers.

#4. Setting Up Online Shop

You can set up a store in three ways

  • Building your own store through WordPress + WooCommerce
  • Launch your store on Shopify.
  • Selling on online marketplaces such as Amazon, Flipkart, Snapdeal, and PayTM.

#1. Building your own store through WordPress + WooCommerce

Woocommerce is the best if you want to have your own store and do not want to depend on marketplaces.

WordPress helps you to publish and manage content on your website. WooCommerce is a software plugin that facilitates e-commerce for WordPress websites.

First, get the hosting and domain name and then follow step by step process to start your website & configure yourself.

Once you are done setting up your website, you can follow the simple instructions to install WooCommerce and enable the e-commerce part to launch your online store.

#2. Launching your store on Shopify

Shopify allows you to set up an online store to sell your goods. You can organize your products, customize your storefront, accept credit card payments, track and respond to orders.

Steps to Build Shopify Ecommerce Website

  • Sign up 14-day free trial with Shopify
  • Give your online store a name
  • Add address details which will help calculate sales tax and payments
  • On the dashboard, you can customize design
  • Choose a theme. The theme can be modified later as per requirements
  • Adding up products with descriptions, names, variants, sizes and images
  • Provide price, inventory details and weight details for shipping
  • Finally, add a payment mechanism

#3. Selling on Amazon, Flipkart, Snapdeal, and PayTM

Online marketplaces such as Amazon and  Flipkart, provide you with a ready customer base.

Online e-commerce businesses also sell on marketplaces to explore additional revenue streams despite having their own stores.

Steps for selling on Online Marketplaces

  • Create an account with the platform
  • Do the research and choose a niche
  • Find a supplier, look for a sample, lead time and margin.
  • Create a product listing and optimize the product page
  • Drive traffic to the product page to increase sales.

#5. Marketing Your Business

Facebook is very useful for starting paid marketing because you can

  • Drive traffic from an active and engaged user base

Facebook has more than 2 billion active monthly users. You get a lot of active and engaging traffic. In addition, Facebook owns Messenger and Instagram that you can help you drive traffic.

  • Target customers based on demographics, interests, and behaviors

Facebook has a detailed user profile that advertisers can tap into through targeted ads.

You can match products and services against various user’s interests, traits, and behaviors. That way there are higher chances of reaching ideal customers.

  • Generating brand awareness

You can use Facebook in increasing brand exposure and getting new followers for your e-store.

#6. Buying Running E-commerce Business

I suggest you not to buy an existing e-commerce business while starting out. Unless you have the requisite experience of running an online store you will not be able to run an already existing e-comm business.

Reasons are that you may struggle with

  • Fierce competition
  • Shopping cart abandonment
  • Maintaining customer loyalty
  • The headache of product return and refund
  • Competing against retailers and manufacturers
  • The problem of data security

11 Best E-commerce Business Ideas

#1. Health Niche

Paleo Bars / Powder – Paleo enthusiasts feel the need to have high-quality foods after workouts. Google trend shows that there are tons of people searching for paleo bars.

Paleo bars are easy to carry and can be made at home.

#2. Entertainment Niche

Bluetooth Speakers – The global Bluetooth speaker industry was valued at $4 billion in 2018. The market is estimated to cross $35 billion by 2024. Bluetooth speaker’s market is growing rapidly and the trend is likely to continue in the long-run.

#3. Drones and Accessories Niche

If you are targeting US customers then drones are a good product. Because Drones is a $5 billion industry. You can also add drone-related accessories to your e-stores.

In India, commercial drone operations are not allowed.

#4. Apparels Market

Denim – Irrespective of the trends, people need denim clothes. The industry experts also predict denim will outpace leggings for Millenials. Thus denim is a good option for the e-stores product idea.

#5. Shapewear Products

Shapewear is tight-fitting underwear designed to control and shape your body. Shapewear is expected to grow to roughly $6M by 2022. Shapewear is a good product idea for an e-store.

#6. Matcha Powder

Every year more and more consumers are becoming aware of matcha health benefits.

Matcha is a $300M market and expected to grow 8% each year. You can start an e-store selling matcha powder.

#7. Travel Niche

Watches –  Watches are steadily growing in sales (CAGR of 7%) and search volume is increasing each year.  Minimalist watches is a good product for your e-store.

#8. Cellulite Removal Equipment

Cellulite removal is an evergreen product in the health niche category. Cellulite Removal Equipment includes Anti Cellulite Vacuum / Massager along with the cellulite removal oils and cream.

#9. Kids Products

Baby Rompers Baby rompers have a high search volume. You can start an online infant or baby store that includes baby rompers.

#10. Bamboo Toothbrush

Bamboo toothbrush is a new product idea with high interest. The toothbrush has a high search volume because of the growing interest in reducing plastic use.

#11. Handmade Jewellery

People like to wear artistic, vibrant, and colorful handcrafted jewelry having beautiful patterns.

From earrings to necklaces you can sell all types of handmade jewelry in your e-store. Plus you can create a jewelry brand for yourself.

Conclusion

Starting an e-commerce business has challenges in the form of inventory management, niche, and product ideas. But opens an opportunity to build a passive income source.

If you want to build a brand and authority then without procrastination start an e-commerce business.

Learn more How to Build 5 Income Sources that can Make $50,000/Month

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