5 Things to Know When Starting an Online Business

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By Miva | June 18, 2020
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The coronavirus pandemic has impacted the world on an unprecedented scale. With social distancing limiting the way people can shop, online buying and selling (known more commonly as ecommerce) has seen a sudden spike in activity. Online sales in the U.S. are expected to jump 18 percent this year due to the impact of the pandemic. 

For sellers who have not digitalized their business, the pandemic has escalated the need to adapt quickly to avoid being left behind. Sellers who already have an effective digital presence, on the other hand, are now faced with a valuable opportunity to build upon their ecommerce strategy and better serve their customers during these uncertain times. 

In this article, we discuss five essential things to know when starting an online business and what it takes to find success in the ecommerce space. 

1. Ecommerce Has Unique Opportunities (and Challenges) 

For all its opportunities, ecommerce comes with its own set of challenges. Contrary to popular ecommerce myths, it takes a considerable amount of work to build a competitive and profitable online business. Furthermore, changing consumer expectations and fluctuating demand caused by the pandemic have created additional challenges for aspiring businesses.  

Despite these challenges, there are still plenty of opportunities for sellers looking to build their online businesses. The reward is creating a business that both survives and thrives. 

2. A Bit of Expertise Will Help You Launch 

Before starting your business, you will need to pick up some industry knowledge and expertise. Launching an online store doesn’t require specialized education in ecommerce. However, if you are able to draw upon experience or knowledge in starting a business, marketing a product, merchandising a store, or building a brand, it could help you better plan your launch and set up your business for long-term success. 

A solid starting point is becoming familiar with ecommerce terminology, including technical phrases, industry acronyms, and key words. Knowing the lingo can help you keep up with the constant evolution and advancements of the industry. 

3. It’s More About How You Sell Than What You Sell 

When starting out with their business, many online merchants tend to choose to sell either commodity items, essential goods, trending products, or a combination to maximize their return on investment. While product types and profit margins are crucial things to be considered, what’s more important than the products you sell is how you sell them. 

For a product to sell well, it has to address a specific consumer need and solve that pain point. Your ability to communicate this need to customers and adapt your store to provide that experience will give customers a reason to keep coming back to shop online with you.Give your online brand a voice.

4. Branding is a Science

To create a brand that sticks in the minds of consumers, you need to align your visuals and messaging with buyer emotions and communicate this alignment consistently across all your channels. Brands don’t come premade—they require time, thought, and investment to develop. Building a recognizable brand is a creative science in its own right, and its importance to your online business shouldn’t be underestimated.  

Creating a compelling brand often starts with your business name. A memorable, catchy name shapes your online identity and gives your brand a voice. Check out our brand name generator to create potential names that will delight and intrigue your target buyers. 

5. You’ll Need a Great Website (Some Assembly Required) 

In ecommerce, your website not only functions as a digital storefront, but also serves as the face of your business and your “bread and butter” in the ecommerce space. Among many reasons why you need to have a website, your site serves as a valuable tool that helps you increase sales and keep your competitive edge—even as your industry undergoes change and disruption.  

It’s not enough to just “set and forget” your website. Some creative strategy and regular optimizations are required to keep your site effective and relevant. The cost of doing nothing can be extremely detrimental to your bottom line. 

How to Launch Your Ecommerce Business 

Launching an ecommerce business requires careful research, planning, and preparation. Knowing the elements that are behind an ecommerce business will improve your chances of online success. 

Now that you are familiar with the things to know when starting an online business, check out our checklist on how to nail your business launch. It covers the essential steps including how to sell products, create an attractive site, and forge relationships with customers.Your Guide to Launching a Successful Online Business | Download Free Checklist

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Author's Bio


Miva offers a flexible and adaptable ecommerce platform that evolves with businesses and allows them to drive sales, maximize average order value, cut overhead costs, and increase revenue. Miva has been helping businesses realize their ecommerce potential for over 20 years and empowering retail, wholesale, and direct-to-consumer sellers across all industries to transform their business through ecommerce.

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