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The Complete Guide for Building an Online E-commerce Business

4-minute read

Kristin Vegh

Kristin Vegh

15 November 2023

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E-commerce success stories typically start the same way — with an idea. But making that idea a reality is another story altogether. Whether you’re researching website builders or brushing up on e-commerce strategies, there’s a lot to learn, and it can feel like opening Pandora’s box.

Fortunately, there are tools available to help you along your e-commerce journey. We’ve gathered the best articles from our Resource Center about selling online, e-commerce tech, and even some tips to reach your target customers to help you get started.

1. The basics of selling online.

Anyone interested in jumping into the world of e-commerce is probably curious about how selling online actually works. Our guide to online selling offers step-by-step instructions for how to grow your e-commerce business from the ground up, and more. You’ll learn about:

  • Specialty and commodity products, and which ones you’d like to sell
  • Choosing the right business structure and crafting a business plan
  • Finding an e-commerce platform or marketplace that fits your goals

As an added bonus, if you’re asking yourself “Do I need a business license for an online business?” you’re in luck. The online selling overview outlines the various types of business licenses so you can figure out what your e-commerce business needs.

2. Signs it’s time to start your e-commerce business.

Not sure if you’re ready to enter the e-commerce ecosystem? We all know that starting any business isn’t something to take lightly, and the time has to be right. Before jumping into building your online empire, make sure you’re ready to:

  • Commit a big chunk of time to building your shop
  • Dive into market research
  • Find the right products and platform
  • Go full-steam-ahead to pitch your unique selling proposition

Check out our e-commerce startup guide for more on this topic. In addition to tips for getting started, this article outlines some key characteristics for building a successful online shop. Find out what it takes to succeed in e-commerce and ask yourself: “Is now the right time?”

3. All about dropshipping.

Many aspiring e-commerce business owners are tempted to start dropshipping. And it’s not difficult to see why! Our in-depth dropshipping explainer digs into the pros and cons of this type of selling, how it works, and how to get your dropshipping e-commerce business plan started.

We answer frequently asked questions such as:

  • Why is dropshipping so popular for e-commerce startups?
  • Why is SEO important for e-commerce?
  • What permits and licenses will your dropshipping business need?

Learn the ins and outs of running a dropship business and see if it’s right for you.

4. The name game.

What’s in a name? For e-commerce startups, a lot. A key part of your e-commerce business plan will be landing a unique company name. If you need inspiration, we’ve got you covered.

We’ve rounded up some of our favorite company names, with some background on how those names were chosen, and tips for choosing the right one for your business. Bonus: We even found some name generators to help.

5. Website building platforms for every budget.

No shop is complete without, well, a shop. You can’t sell online without a functioning online storefront, making website building platforms an essential part of e-commerce tech. Fortunately, there’s an abundance of options available. The downside? It can be difficult to decide which platform will work the best for your business.

Don’t worry. We have a couple resources for you. The first is our eight top picks for e-commerce website builders. This guide makes it easy by:

  • Giving an overview of the specs
  • Highlighting each builder’s top features
  • Pricing each option so you can find the right fit

Working with a tighter budget? You’re in luck. Our second website building resource is a collection of free online store builders. We’ve weighed the pros and cons of each selection for you, so you can make an informed decision without dealing with the endless hours of research.

6. Inbox hero.

Reaching your target customers is crucial for the success of your e-commerce business. Email marketing is just one way to help attract more visitors to your digital storefront. Our guide to email marketing covers:

  • How to build your mailing list
  • Finding the right email software and tools
  • Tips to create a successful email campaign
  • And more!

Add Business Insurance to Your Cart

Even an online business is still susceptible to very real threats. Make sure that protecting your business with insurance is a part of your e-commerce launch strategy.

Here are some of the coverage types that Simply Business® recommends for e-commerce sellers:

  • General liability. This policy includes product liability coverage in the event a customer claims one of your products caused damage to them in some way, as well as advertising injury, third-party bodily injury occurring during the normal course of business, and more.
  • Cyber. In the event of a cyberattack or customer data breach, this policy typically covers the costs of fixing the breach, crisis management, credit monitoring, and more.
  • Workers’ compensation. If an employee gets injured or ill as a result of working for you, this insurance may cover the cost of their medical care, lost wages, and more.

Simply Business partners with leading national insurance carriers to help e-commerce sellers find the coverage they need, at a price that fits their budget, without the runaround. Our quote comparison tool makes it easy to compare prices and find coverage recommendations for your industry. Tell us a little about your business, and we’ll have a free quote ready in just a few minutes. It’s that easy.

Get Insured in Under 10 Minutes

Get an affordable & customized policy in just minutes. So you can get back to what matters: Your business.

Start Here>

Shop to It

Are you ready to make your e-commerce business plan? It might feel like a daunting task at first, but it doesn’t have to be complicated. Following best practices for launching and marketing a shop and using product recommendations to find the right online platform will go a long way in helping you get started. With a little research and commitment, you just may be able to bring your idea to life!

Kristin Vegh

Written by

Kristin Vegh

After several years of working in insurance while also freelance writing, I've finally found where the two interests intersect. I'm a writer with Simply Business with an insurance processing background and a love of research.

Kristin writes on a number of topics such as small business trends, license reciprocity, and BOP insurance.

This content is for general, informational purposes only and is not intended to provide legal, tax, accounting, or financial advice. Please obtain expert advice from industry specific professionals who may better understand your business’s needs. Read our full disclaimer

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