eCommerce is booming and it looks like it’s here to stay, with some 24 million sites across the globe selling an array of products and services. There are many factors that have led to this phenomenon — from ubiquitous connectivity to the ease of building a website, right through to the millennial desire for more flexible, remote working arrangements. Plus, there's the added attraction of being your own boss from the outset. There is no doubt that the future is looking rosy for e-commerce. Nasdaq research indicates that by the year 2040, around 95% of all purchases will be online. The question isn’t if or when, but how to open an e-commerce business that can grant you the biggest gains for your investment. Below, Karoline Gore shares her advice with Finance Monthly.

B2C or B2B?

The two most common e-commerce business categories are B2C (companies selling items to individual consumers) and B2B (those selling to other businesses). Each has its upsides and downsides. For instance, practically anyone with an enterprising mind and a good business plan can set up a B2C business, since you can keep costs and production low until demand deems it is time to step up your game (and your investment). On the other hand, competition is high in this industry and your team has to be solid (and big) enough to answer questions quickly, deal with customer complaints, and the like. With B2B, orders are likely to be large but may be less frequent. B2B also imposes a stronger pressure on companies to lower profit, since other companies will undoubtedly aim to attract your clients with more attractive prices.


Thinking Out of the Box

If you have a product that is in high demand or you find a niche market for something you are selling, it is key to utilise a model that will boost customer loyalty so you can have a sustained income while thinking of how to expand or broaden your target. One that is working quite well is subscription boxes. Within a period of just four years, this market expanded by an impressive 890%. If you are thinking of launching a subscription company, ask yourself if you can deliver goods on time, do so regularly, and include something that gives your clients real value. This could be an item that is difficult to access (such as a designer or bespoke piece), a discounted item, or a new product to discover. When calculating costs, don’t just think of the goods and packaging. but also of those involved in website and brand design, web hosting, and incorporation fees.

What Companies are Achieving Success?

Some of the most successful e-commerce businesses to date are following one of a select group of models, including dropshipping. Many startups choose to work with this model via Amazon, but competition in this marketplace is tough. It might be a better idea to use a platform like SaleHoo, Spocket, or Oberlo. The latter, for instance, will allow you to see how many page views, sales, and star rankings items have. Other successful models include private labelling (you order the product you develop from a manufacturer then brand, develop and sell it); and wholesaling (to private customers and other businesses). The model you ultimately choose depends on your target market, the nature of your product, your budget, and your short- and long-term goals.

Some of the most successful e-commerce businesses to date are following one of a select group of models, including dropshipping.

Finding Inspiration

Top e-commerce companies that started small may provide you with the inspiration you need. Take a model as seemingly simple but brilliant like Beer Cartel — a craft beer service that introduces urbanites to unique bottles from all over the world. See how sustainability and profitability can work hand in hand in companies like Bundle Baby, which makes eco baby diapers in the cutest colors and prints imaginable. Think of how the founders of Bella Bean Organics used their own farm-made products to enlighten gourmets on everything from homemade pasta to flavor-packed tomato sauce or traditional toffee treats.

The market for e-commerce is so wide that making your mark on it will involve research, vision, and commitment. Do your research before starting, so as to identify market and demand. Opt for a model that is going strong. Finally, put love and care into every aspect of your business, including your branding, social media, and packaging.