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How to start your ecommerce store on a shoestring budget

By Alexandra Gavril - July 15, 2020

You don’t need a huge budget to start an ecommerce website and sell products online. All you need is an idea, some motivation and a good business plan.

Not sure how to get started? Read on as we share a few tips and advice on how to move past your financial restrictions and successfully start an online shop on a budget.

Choose your ecommerce niche

The first step to building an ecommerce business is to choose a niche. Why is this important? Because there are lots of shops that try to sell everything to everyone and fail.

The secret to your future success is specificity. You need to find an ecommerce niche where you can sell products that are as specific as the audience you’re selling them to.

What’s an ecommerce niche and why choosing one is key to your success?

Your ecommerce niche is a specific category into which your products fall. For example, clothing is a broad niche. Hiking clothing or even hiking boots are much narrower.

If you’re afraid that choosing a niche will drive away potential customers and potential revenue, think again. When you’re in a niche market, you have a higher chance to get found in the search engine results and attract people who really want what you sell. Read this post to learn how to choose your ecommerce niche.

Find product ideas to sell in your online shop

Picking the right products to sell is one of the most challenging parts of starting an online business. Even if you’ve chosen an ecommerce niche, how do you find profitable product ideas to sell in your shop?

There are lots of strategies you can use to research and come up with a list of product ideas. You can look at your own passions or paint points, or those around you like family, friends, and people from your local community. You can also browse through popular online marketplaces like Amazon, Etsy or eBay and look for popular products that are always out of stock, or product ideas coming directly from customers’ feedback.

Validate your business’ profitability

Once you have your ecommerce niche and product ideas, how do you know if people will buy what you have to sell?

The truth is you can’t be 100% sure until you launch. But you can take a proactive approach and evaluate your product ideas and potential market. There are steps you can take to validate the profitability of your products and make sure that there’s market demand for what you want to sell.

In this post you’ll find some tips and advice on how to test the waters for your new idea without spending lots of time or money.

Create your business and digital marketing plans

If you’re serious about starting an ecommerce business and turning it into a success, you need a plan. Getting started and making it up as you go along won’t work. In fact, that’s one of the main reasons many businesses fail – because they don’t have a plan.

Having a good business plan can save you a lot of hassle. It helps you get a deeper understanding of the market you’re planning to enter, the potential obstacles and risks you might face, and how best to overcome them. It also helps you get a clear picture of how you want your online business to operate and what you want to achieve.

Start by reading these two posts to learn:

Learn some new skills

One way to cut your costs when starting an ecommerce business on a budget is to rely on yourself, your knowledge and expertise as much as you possibly can.

If you’re new to the web and online selling, you might have to pick up a few new skills like design, content writing, search engine optimisation (SEO), digital marketing, and legal and business finance skills.

Here are some skills you’ll need to start a website and an online business:

Though it might sound exhausting, until you’re able to scale your business, doing all the essential work yourself can keep you within your budget. Remember that it’s all temporary and you can always outsource and automate some tasks to lighten the load.

Get a good business name and domain name

First impressions are everything – and your company and domain name are the first impression customers will have of your business.

Coming up with a name might seem simple, but it’s a very important part of launching an online shop, and a decision that shouldn’t be taken lightly. You’ll brand your whole business around the name you choose for it, so you’ll want to be 100% sure you’ve picked the right one– changing it later down the line can be a pain once you’re established, especially for a small business.

Here’s everything you need to know about choosing a business name and a domain name.

Once you’ve chosen a potential name, you can check if that domain name is available for you to buy.

Build and get your shop online

Once you have your domain name, it’s time to start building your online shop. At a minimum, here are the key products you’ll need:

  • A responsive website template, meaning one that works properly for anyone who visits your website from any device, whether it’s a smartphone, a tablet, a laptop or a PC.
  • A hosting package to get your website live for everyone to see.
  • An SSL certificate to make your site more secure for your visitors. This encrypts any sort of sensitive information that people share with you via your site, be it names, email addresses, credit card details, and any other personal information, to ensure it doesn’t end up in the wrong hands.

Read this article to learn more about these products and how much you can expect to pay for each. You can read about how much an ecommerce website should cost here.

An easy and affordable option would be to get an all-in-one package like the 123 Reg Online Shop that comes with everything you need to build, launch, and manage a successful online store. This includes:  an email account, domain name, web hosting, SSL certificate, web hosting and an email.

With the responsive templates available, you’ll also be able to add a hassle-free mobile checkout and take advantage of the marketing and SEO tools to bring in new customers to your store.

The great thing about this option is that you don’t need any technical skills to create and get your ecommerce website up and running.

Next steps

Ready to launch your new online shop? Fantastic! Just make sure your efforts don’t stop here because there’s lots more to do to promote it so prospects know you exist. Use the digital marketing plan you created to publish great content, market your ecommerce store on Google and on the different social networks where your customers are spending time online. Need more help? Check out this guide on how to start a business with no money.