If you’re currently wondering how to start an online business, you’re not alone. These unprecedented times have spurred many aspiring entrepreneurs to action. Curiously, this isn’t the first time that economic and political uncertainty have inspired professional change. In fact, more than half of the companies on the 2009 Fortune 500 list were launched during a recession or bear market.
While we can’t predict what the future will bring, we do know that e-commerce is growing rapidly—driven largely by cultural shifts related to shelter-in-place policies around the world.
10 years vs. 8 weeks pic.twitter.com/aySbP0Xpd4
— 2PM (@2PMinc) May 16, 2020
For some consumers, their recent increase in online purchases is here to stay, for example:
- 14 percent of consumers have shopped a new website for basic items, with 50 percent intending to continue after COVID-19.
- 14 percent of consumers have shopped a new website for non-basic items, with 56 percent intending to continue after COVID-19.
- Relative to pre-crisis, 23 percent expect their online shopping habits to increase after COVID-19.
As you research how to start an online business, you may start to notice there are a multitude of steps to take. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed—there’s so much to do! But, our easy-to-follow, definitive guide will help you every step of the way.
We’re diving deep into every facet of creating an online business to make it easy for you to get started and scale quickly. From choosing a product and building a website to creating shipping labels and processing returns, we leave no stone unturned in the e-commerce process.
This handbook is for you if:
- You have an amazing small business idea, but not sure where to start.
- You have a new product in mind, and want to make sure there’s a market for it.
- You dream about the independence that comes from being your own boss, but don’t know what product to sell.
- You own a brick-and-mortar store, and would like to take your business online.
- You’re familiar with some aspects of business (maybe, marketing or social media), but you’re looking for the whole picture.
To make sure this advice for building a booming business is bulletproof, we tapped top e-commerce SaaS providers and online retailers to share their expertise and experience. Our roster of experts includes:
- BeanBox: Based in Seattle—arguably the coffee capital of the U.S.—Bean Box is a coffee subscription and gifting company that ships literally tons of coffee (75+ tons in 2018) to coffee lovers across the U.S. annually.
- Greenbelly Meals: Greenbelly Meals provides non-cook, ultra-lightweight, nutritious backpacking meals. Since its early years, Greenbelly Meals has at least 10x’ed its growth.
- Mail Order Mystery: Mail Order Mystery delivers a mystery story experience for kids that comes through the mail. In its busiest months, Mail Order Mystery sells around 2,500 orders.
- Mini Materials: Mini Materials sells realistically scaled-down versions of building supplies, including miniature cinder blocks, red bricks, wood pallets, lumber, and more. It ships about 300 packages a month, exceeding 500 packages during the holiday season.
- Mr. Muffin’s Trains: The owner of one of the largest public train layouts in the country, a 15,000 square foot space in Atlanta, Indiana. Mr. Muffin’s Trains sells train components online, consistently ranking in the Top 2 percent of high-performing Shopify stores. The company sees between 1,000 and 1,500 orders a month.
We are also lucky enough to share teachings from some of our awesome partners:
- BigCommerce: the flexible, open SaaS platform leading a new era of e-commerce.
- Deliverr: an Amazon-like fulfillment solution for your eBay, Walmart and Shopify businesses.
- Ecwid: the e-commerce platform that easily syncs to sell across a website, social media, marketplaces, like Amazon, and live in-person.
- Fishbowl Inventory: an inventory, warehouse, and manufacturing management solution for Quickbooks.
- Peoplevox: is an e-commerce warehouse management system, designed for fast-growth online retailers and direct to consumer brands.
- Returnly: a returns solution that lets shoppers get the right item before returning the wrong one.
- ShipBob: a web-based fulfillment management software that helps you manage inventory and track real-time stock levels across fulfillment centers.
- ShipHero: a fulfillment and cloud software designed for DTC brands looking to optimize their warehouse operations.
- Shopify: the all-in-one commerce platform to start, run, and grow a business, powering more than 1,000,000 businesses worldwide.
- Soapbox: a warehouse and inventory management platform that streamlines and automates the fulfillment process.
- Stripe: the fastest way to start accepting online payments and unify everything you need into a single system.
- Truepill: An API-connected healthcare infrastructure that empowers healthcare companies to deliver world-class patient experiences.
- Veeqo: an inventory and shipping platform for growing e-commerce businesses.
- Wix: a platform that helps you create a free website, with customizable plans for e-commerce sellers.
- WooCommerce: the fully-customizable, open source e-commerce platform built for WordPress, designed for small to large-sized merchants.
Pull up a chair, crack open that notebook, and let’s get to work.
Want to save these tips, so you can reference them again and again? Download a copy of the e-book here.