Thinking of starting an e-commerce business? Here’s how

3 minute read

Starting an online business can be a challenge when you don’t know where to start. There are several initial questions to answer:

  • What platform should I use for my store?
  • How do I attract customers?
  • What product(s) should I sell?
  • How much should I charge for shipping?

To help you get started on the right foot in e-commerce, here are a few tips for creating a successful online business.

Build a website

Entrepreneurs that aren’t web savvy are often persuaded to invest in an expensive custom-built website for their e-commerce business. The truth is that today, that is totally unnecessary and can be a bad investment for a business just starting out. There are so many affordable and easy-to-use website design resources available which are designed to help entrepreneurs like you create an impressive e-commerce website quickly and on budget.

Two retail merchants review their e-commerce orders on a tablet and laptop.

Shopify, Squarespace, and Wix are just a few of the many popular and user-friendly website design platforms that are used by millions of businesses to create functional and beautiful online stores with ease, for less. They offer customizable website templates. These platforms are very efficient – they work with multiple payment tools and provide data, inventory management and order tracking tools to help you manage your orders, products and customers, plus enable you to gain insight into how your store is performing. They are incredibly helpful when it comes to setting your business up for success and growth. Most of these platforms even offer you a free custom domain, or enable you to buy or register a domain for your store.

Ensure your website is easy to use

Most online shoppers have a limited attention span and are impatient when it comes to website navigation and page loading times. Ensure that your website offers an easy-to-navigate experience. Go for simple site navigation and include a returns policy that is easy to locate, clear and concise.

Make checkout a breeze

You’ll want to ensure your checkout process is simple and clear. Making customers jump through too many hoops is never in your best interest. For example, don’t waste your customers’ time with things like mandatory account creation – let them get to the point faster by checking out as a guest so they don’t potentially abandon their cart. You can give customers the option to create an account, but also enable guest checkout for those in a hurry.

Choose a Product to Sell

You don’t need to manufacture your own products to sell online. Deciding whether to create your own products, or to purchase and/or advertise the products of others, is an important step when starting an online business.

Find a good shipping partner

When you run an online store, it’s critical to have a good shipping partner. You will want to keep your shipping costs low, your parcel pickup/drop off and delivery methods convenient, and ensure that your customers’ receiving experience is pleasant. Canada Post Solutions for Small BusinessTM is free to join, and offers savings of up to 34 per cent across Canada, and 47 per cent internationally. Our membership also includes scheduled pickups for only $3.50 for an unlimited number of parcels.

Save on shipping, pickups and returns with Canada Post Solutions for Small BusinessTM.

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Offer free shipping and/or reasonably priced shipping

Make sure shipping cost information is clear and easy to find on your site or at checkout (customers hate being surprised by high shipping costs in the final stretch). It’s critical to ensure that your cost of shipping is either free or reasonable (generally the lower the better), but keep in mind that even the biggest e-commerce stores can’t afford to offer free shipping year round. You don’t have to either – offering it at strategic times throughout the year is a good alternative that your customers will appreciate.

Market your business wisely

Marketing may be your most important undertaking when creating a successful online business. Advertising, social media, direct mail, email, customer targeting and SEO are just a few of the many essential marketing elements to consider when crafting your marketing strategy.

Identify your ideal customer

The first step in creating your marketing strategy should be establishing who your target audience is. Once you have that sorted out, you can begin researching the best methods of digital communication and direct mail to attract and target those customers and increase sales.

Start selling online

Whether you’re already selling online or you’re looking to get started, we’ve teamed up with recognized e-commerce partners who can help get you selling and shipping faster than ever before. Join our Canada Post Solutions for Small BusinessTM program to get preferred rates on e-commerce shipping.

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