How to start an eCommerce business in 2021

March 3, 2021
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2020 made history, and many more people got to learn the power of online businesses first-hand. As the world relied on the internet to keep functioning, remote work, online procedures, and solutions simply started to flourish. That’s potentially why many might be wondering how to start an eCommerce business in 2021. And we’re here to help you slim that down a little into practical first steps, cost considerations, and more. 

How to start an eCommerce business in 2021

Bear in mind that starting an eCommerce business requires research, a planned and strategic launch. This also comes with the need for all the ordinary business growth initiatives to make all these efforts profitable. 

1. Filter your idea

We’ll get to this in more detail as we move along, but evidently, start by putting your ideas to the test. In doing so, try to narrow down your product ideas to a single one to start. Relationship marketing can help with demos and other product trials further down the road. Yet, talk to your friends, peers, business partners, associates, people you admire in business, and ordinary users who might need what you have to offer. 

Discuss what’s in your mind to ensure you’re considering all variables to a single thought. And try to define the one business challenge that will work best as your startup’s starting basis. 

2. Do research on your competitors.

Define where your potential customers are shopping right now, for example. And know your competition so well you can recite their mission and vision out the palm of your hand. 

Of course, you needn’t go as literally far. Still, do make it a point to know perfectly what your target audience does daily and the kind of choices and resources they have. Knowing what’s out there as a business offer is vital for market insertion. 

3. Come up with a business plan.

While we’re at it, include research on business models as part of your efforts to start a new business online. You’ll need to establish the right niche and have a clear mental and practical image of the people to whom you’re looking to sell. 

However, this is NOT to say you should write a business plan as a startup. Our CEO explains quite well why that’s “a terrible waste of time for founders in early stages of a company when they should be focusing on validating their business premises.” 

Do answer key questions about your business, though, such as the ones we summarize at the end of that article. The idea is to knowingly be able to establish priorities and reach new clients. 

4. Give it an appealing name.

You’ll need a brand name. Moreover, you need to get a domain name that sells. Focus on that. Give this aspect vital time. Take an honest look into your options to make smart choices right off the start. 

5. Consider marketing strategies

From email marketing to Search Engine Optimization (SEO), establishing funnels, and picking sales channels, reliable eCommerce businesses thrive on strong online positioning. Check which strategies give top rendition for your efforts. 

You can always mix your choices up a bit in this sense to help support your sales. For that, also consider your budget very carefully. And make sure you actually look into all of your available options in this aspect, as well.  

6. Register your company

And get all your legal requirements in order. You might rightfully need help with this, so hire assistance in areas of expertise such as this when most appropriate. This section includes paying for licenses if they apply in your area and any other legality issues by which to adhere before and while you operate. 

7. Build your store

Now’s finally the time to see it come alive! 

Spend some quality care defining what you are going to do while building a website. Pick high-quality visual material, such as HD pictures and professional product shoots, for example. 

Also, think about the details that make a difference. Brand your site with colors that speak of your business and motivate your target users to engage, for example. Make sure there’s a palette in place that contemplates what your niche appreciates the most. 

Image contains a person using a tablet

How much does it cost to start an eCommerce business?

How costly eCommerce startup costs get depend, of course, on how you go around building your new business. However, as preliminary sums, at least consider those having to do with:

  • A professional website for anywhere from $2,500 to $10K
  • A fast and secure payment system. Think of your processor and whether it’ll work on a flat fee or per transaction, for example.
  • Hosting (running at $250-$350 monthly)
  • The domain name for an extended period for anywhere between $5 to $25
  • Marketing ( for social media campaigns, driving traffic, and boosting the brand, e.g.)
  • Salaries of around $50K per year (A web developer or IT Service who can do maintenance, for example, or your founder salary and the person packing products, handling the website, and dealing with shipping)
  • Insurance, trading permits, and any other professional licenses or allowances you’ll need to run a business in your particular jurisdiction

By the way, here’s a quick video on how to agree on founder vesting and salaries

And never forget to factor in how long it’ll take to get the last bit of paperwork done, especially concerning location regulations and other legal costs. 

Wondering how to estimate all your costs? 

For a more thorough projection, check out our eCommerce financial model slide template. The tool estimates the cost of products, shipping, and estimated margins. Those include projections for sales and marketing. You can also use the data to furnish much-needed internal or external reports. 

Financial model template usage examples

Our financial model is set to automatically give you costs of goods sold based on order size and shipping costs if you wanted, for example. 

Available in Microsoft Excel and Google Sheets format, the template can also work out estimates for future revenues based on app downloads or website visits, for instance. 

Or you can also choose to focus on conversion rates and average order sizes, if not.

Browse our financial models

Angelica A.
Freelance and Remote Web Content Writer is the current hat under which Ang keeps on the global move. Writing blogs, website content and (especially) Facebook ads for diverse small businesses, entrepreneurs and international parties is part of the common work under Ang's belt. Otherwise, you'll see Ang riding a motorcycle on their vegan way out of theater rehearsal.
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