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How to start an eCommerce business: A first-time entrepreneur's guide

How to start an eCommerce business: A first-time entrepreneur's guide

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What is eCommerce?

eCommerce, simply put, is short for 'electronic commerce'. It involves the process of buying and selling goods and products online - via an 'electronic network' (also known as the internet).

As the eCommerce process is reliant on the digital space to conduct commercial transactions online, it offers an array of benefits over traditional retail businesses - especially in terms of ease, convenience, and affordability during the initial setup stages of a new online business, as well as the reduction of future overhead costs in the long term.

Following the global COVID-19 pandemic and ensuant lockdowns worldwide - which forced the closure of retail shop fronts and in-store experiences internationally - the success of eCommerce stores rose to unprecedented heights. Also, more of us were spending more time on the internet than ever before - surfing, browsing, and of course, shopping online. Indeed, global internet usage during this time increased by as much as 70 per cent. eCommerce businesses were quite literally in the right place, at the right time!

Yet, the success of the post-COVID lockdown eCommerce boom does not appear to be dying down anytime soon - with many shoppers set to continue using the accessibility and convenience of online stores as their first preference moving forward.

Our online shopping habits have been shaped, influenced, and indeed redefined by this sweeping boom in eCommerce, and undoubtedly, these shopping habits are here to stay. Right now is the perfect time to start your very own eCommerce business, if you haven't already!

How do I start up my own eCommerce business?

The first, most important step in setting up your eCommerce business, is to conduct market research into the most popular goods and products to sell online. You may also like to research what audiences you will be targeting with your products, as well as look into the current market and your competition.

Next, you will need to create a platform or website on which to sell your eCommerce product/s. You may wish to engage the services of a professional website developer to assist you with this. You might also want to look at creating your own branding - along with brand name, logo, and brand colours, for example.

Finally, you will need to source the supplier of the products you wish to sell. The beauty of eCommerce is that you can source your products from a wholesale supplier online, and then re-sell them under your own branding or website.

What sort of products should I sell online, and where can I acquire them?


Perhaps the most successful products sold during the post-COVID lockdown eCommerce boom are cosmetic and personal care items. This is of course partly thanks to the fact that lockdowns also saw the closure of beauty salons and outsourced beauty treatment clinics - giving rise to at-home beauty routines and self-grooming.

Some of the most popular items included nail treatments such as manicure sets and nail polish, at-home hair treatments, and skincare - including facial mud masks. Importantly, many of the eCommerce businesses who saw success in this field were and still are procuring their cosmetic products wholesale, rebranding them, and reselling them under their own brand websites - a common process when dealing in eCommerce.


Another area that saw great success included stores selling stationery online. With many offices closed, and many employees working from home, the 'home office' became a thing - and with it, the need for personal stationery. Items such as pens, paper, notebooks, highlighters, and staplers became popular for example, with shoppers flocking to their favourite online stores to stock up on both necessities, and novelty stationery - such as brightly-coloured or matching sets to brighten up their home office space.

While many offices have reopened post-COVID, some still are operating on a hybrid, partial, or even full-time work-from-home basis - with lots of office workers preferring to avoid the rush hour commute to work in the comfort of their own homes.

As such, home office stationery continues to be one of the most popular online shopping items, and consequently, the most successful eCommerce area. Fortunately, wholesale stationery can be easily acquired - and resold under one's own branding and online eCommerce store.


One other category that has historically done well in eCommerce is home decor - particularly given the rise of lockdown home improvement and DIY renovations! Homeware items that have been the most popular include picture frames, candles, cutlery, home appliances, dishware, and cooking utensils.

These items can also be easily procured via online wholesale suppliers, and can also be resold in one's own-branded online store.