How to Set Up A Successful E-commerce Store: A Step-by-Step Guide

Written by
Zachary Pestana
Last Modified on
January 22, 2024

The world of e-commerce is thriving. Amazon, Shopee, Shopify, Lazada, Zalora一name it and you’ve probably ordered something online recently. Sellers from all over the world have found success in finding the right products that fit the needs of their target market, leading to hundreds of thousands in revenue. Some of the top performing sellers of all time have even managed to earn millions from their stores, despite initially starting as a side hustle. 

Earning a piece of the pie has never been more inviting. But how does one get their e-commerce business up and running in the first place?

While the industry has gotten even more competitive in terms of acquiring customers, the tools and platforms available online have made it easier to get your foot in the door. To help your business run like a well oiled machine, we’ve put together the steps you need to follow to become a bonafide e-commerce entrepreneur. Here’s how.

Step 1: Determine your category & product ideas

To run a successful e-commerce business, you need a product that solves specific pain points. This is where you need your “eureka” moment. Spend some time researching on what kind of pain points you want to solve and who would be the target market that this product is intended for. 

Start by pinpointing the niche that you have the most interest in. For example, if you’re an avid runner, you may have more vested interest in fitness products that runners would buy. They would then serve as your target market as you go about the process of branding and marketing your store.

Another way to go about it to hone a keen sense of observation. If you’ve had a poor experience with a product, that could be an opportunity for you to improve on it, thereby creating a superior product. Alternatively, you can also consider hopping on products that are already flying off the shelves一at a more competitive price point.

Step 2: Find out how to source your product

Once you’ve decided on your winning product, the next step is to find a reliable source to buy your product from. This largely depends on your product idea. If you’re planning to resell a product that already exists (for eg. wireless headphones), you would need to contact a reputable wholesaler or distributor who supplies this product. 

This begs the question, “Where can you find a wholesale supplier?” 

You can find them at a wholesale supplier marketplace. Some of the most popular places to start are AliExpress, Alibaba, and Taobao.

Pro tip: Start earning unlimited 1% cashback on these inventory suppliers with Aspire’s E-Commerce Card.

Be sure to invest more time at this stage as there’s potential risks associated with finding a wholesaler一the last thing you want is to be scammed or get tied down by a supplier with a long turnaround time. In e-commerce, customers expect both speedy delivery and quality. Suppliers are also the crux of your business. Without products in stock, there won’t be anything to sell. 

Step 3: Incorporate your business 

One of the important things you need to tick off your list is to register your business. Depending on the country you’re operating in, this is usually a very straightforward and simple process. 

In Singapore, you have a variety of different business entity types to choose from, namely:

  • Sole proprietorship
  • Partnership
  • Limited Partnership 
  • Limited Liability Partnership
  • Private Company
Pro tip: Check out our full guide on How to Choose Between Different Types of Business Entities in Singapore here.

Registering your business can help to protect you from personal liability as the business is seen as separate from the business owners. 

Step 4: Choose your e-commerce platform

Depending on where you’re based, you have a variety of options to choose from. Shopee, Lazada, Amazon and Shopify are some of the most popular e-commerce platforms to start. Using existing e-commerce platforms is a good jumping off point as they already have the traffic you need to get customers to your business. If you’re new to starting an online business, it’s best to start small before scaling up once your business grows and builds a repeat customer base.

Pro tip: Start earning unlimited 1% cashback on Shopify with Aspire’s E-Commerce Card.

Another great thing about existing e-commerce platforms is that they offer their own logistics provider, ticking off yet another important aspect of building your store as you can rely on them to get your product to their door.

Here are some key considerations before to help you choose the most suitable e-commerce platform: 

  • Seller registration cost 
  • Delivery vendors/cost
  • Penalty fees 
  • Seller’s commission

Step 5: Store your inventory and potential returns

Inventory storage can come from a variety of places. Ranging from your own spare room to a warehouse, it depends on how much capital you have as well as the volume and size of your product. Keep in mind that running an e-commerce store also comes with handling returns should a customer change their mind on your product. 

In addition, once your business and the demand from your customer base grows, you would reach a stage where you would need to use a third-party fulfillment service to help you store products before shipping them out.

Step 6: Build on your branding 

There are about 12 to 24 million e-commerce stores in the world, and it’s only expected to increase with time. That volume alone should be an indicator that differienting your store from the countless others is crucial to not only attract customers but also gain their trust enough for them to repeat a purchase from you. 

Branding involves creating a brand name, logo and banners that are visually appealing and distinctive. They must also not stray too far from the category of your brand. If you’re in the beauty space, this should inform on the look, feel and name of your brand as a whole.

Step 7: Start listing your products

Unlike brick-and-mortar stores where you’ll be selling your products to curious customers in person, your listing and product descriptions must do the talking for you. This means not only does the photos need to show the product in detail, how you describe the product in writing must be as accurate as possible to how your customer will receive it when it gets to their doorstep. Writing the product description in a vivid yet accurate way would reduce the risk of getting any negative reviews or a poor rating that would affect the reputation of your store. 

Step 8: Invest in digital marketing platforms

Now that you have an e-commerce store up and running, this is where you need to think strategically of ways to attract more customers to your product pages and click ‘buy’. 

Marketing tools can come in handy at this step, such as: 

  • Facebook ads
  • Google ads 
  • LinkedIn ads
  • Microsoft ads
Pro tip: Start earning unlimited 1% cashback on these Digital Marketing merchants with Aspire’s E-Commerce Card.

Did you know that the Aspire e-commerce card is designed to take your business to the next level?

Start your business on the right foot with the E-Commerce Card. It empowers sellers to boost their bottom lines by earning cashback on e-commerce essentials, pay the market lowest foreign transaction fees and manage spending by issuing a card for each expense type. 

For more episodes of CFO Talks, check us out on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify or add our RSS feed to your favorite podcast player!

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About the author
Zachary Pestana
is a seasoned writer in market trends and business thought leadership. With a writing history at Incorp Global, MOQdigital, and AIESEC Australia, Zachary leverages his broad range of experiences to stimulate industry conversations and engage audiences.
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