How to start an e-commerce step by step

A simple guide to starting an online store

Have you decided to start an online shop? Starting an e-commerce business may seem simple, but there are actually several things you need to keep in mind. In this guide, we have gathered both tips and useful information to help you start your e-commerce business.

1. What do you want to sell in your e-commerce?

It may go without saying, but the first step in starting an e-commerce business is to decide what you're going to sell. You also need to ensure that you have access to what you want to sell - that you have suppliers.

In an e-commerce business, you can sell almost anything as long as you comply with applicable laws and regulations. But to create a successful e-commerce it's a good idea to make sure that what you offer is in demand in the market. You do this by researching the market and analysing what consumers want.

Questions to think about

  • What is missing in the market today?
  • What do customers want?
  • What is trending right now and what will be a trend in the future?
  • What will it cost to deliver the product?

Popular product categories in e-commerce

  • Beauty and health
  • Clothes and shoes
  • Books and media
  • Consumer electronics
  • Groceries, food and beverages
  • Sport and leisure
  • Home decor
  • Children's products and toys

Source: E-barometern Q1 2022

Selling to businesses? In our article on B2B e-commerce you can read more about business-to-business commerce.

2. Get to know your customers before you start your e-commerce

Getting to know potential customers is important both for your product development and marketing. When you know who you are targeting, you can find out, for example, if they are interested in your products and what they think of them. It may turn out that you have chosen the wrong target group or that your product is missing something. With the right feedback, it is easier to develop the product and make it more accessible and attractive to the customer group where the demand is greatest.

From a marketing perspective, it is also important to find out as much as possible about your target audience. You will gain a better understanding of your customers, their drivers and needs. With a better understanding of your customers, you can create better targeted communications that can lead to more sales and a stronger brand.

3. Create a financial plan for the start-up and operation of your webshop

Starting an e-commerce business is a big expense. No matter how good you think your products are and how well you think you communicate with your customers, it will take time before the money starts rolling in and you turn a profit. It is therefore important that you take into account everything that can affect the overall cost of starting and running your webshop.

Start by making a budget that calculates the cost of, for example, e-commerce platform, consultant, marketing efforts, logistics providers, warehousing, shipping and so on. Also set measurable KPIs that support your business objectives.

4. Choose a suitable domain name when starting your online store

To start an e-commerce or online store, you need a domain, also called a web address. You can easily register a domain through both domain providers and e-commerce platform providers. The domain name you choose should reflect the purpose of the website and say something about you, your company or the products/services you offer.

When you register a domain name, you need to choose which top level domain(s) you want to register the name on, for example .se, .com, or .nu. Some choose to use different TLDs for different audiences, while others register multiple TLDs to prevent others from using them.

5. Find an e-commerce platform that meets your needs

Today, there are several e-commerce platforms to choose from - both free versions and tailor-made subscription variants. You can build your own system, buy an off-the-shelf solution or use an open source solution. The most important thing is that the platform has the features you need, is scalable, easy to navigate and supports the integrations you want to use for logistics, payment, accounting and marketing, for example. It is also important that the platform has a user-friendly design that makes the visitor stay on the page and easily click through to your products. But don't spend too much time on the design.

A common mistake many people make when choosing an e-commerce platform is not planning for what the business might look like in the future. So make sure you choose a solution that allows you to scale up your website as your business grows.

Don't forget to write informative product descriptions, including information on price, shipping, returns and customer service. It increases customers' sense of security.

Offer multiple payment solutions

Being able to offer customers various payment options is more important than you think. Customers can then choose the one that best meets their needs. The more payment methods you offer, the more customers will complete their purchase. Statistics show that 44% of online shoppers have abandoned their purchase at checkout because they were missing a key payment method. The payment methods you should offer are invoice payment, card payment and direct payment from a supplier your customers trust.

Most online payment solutions are provided with a transaction fee, which can range from 1.2% to 3% per transaction. Sometimes a start-up fee is also included. Here you can calculate your expected sales and compare the costs.

So, when choosing between different e-commerce solutions - make sure to choose a platform that can handle card payments, direct payments and invoice payments via online banking. A tip is to look at the solutions offered by competitors and ask yourself if you would shop from this site with these payment solutions.

Let the customer influence the delivery

E-commerce consumers increasingly want to have a say in where and when a product is delivered. It must not become a brake on their daily lives. Customers are keen to have control over door-to-door transport and want delivery to be quick and easy. With PostNord Portal Business, you can offer your customers several delivery options, such as where the parcel should be delivered - to the door or to a delivery point, and when the delivery should take place.

One tip for finding the right e-commerce platform is to visit different providers and compare different solutions.

6. Connecting e-commerce with different integration solutions

To be a successful e-tailer, you need suppliers to help you with logistics, payment, accounting, warehousing, CRM and more. Make sure that as much as possible can be linked together, otherwise you risk having to do a lot of the work manually.

Convenient shipping booking - Skicka Direkt Business

When you start an e-commerce business, it's important that you can deliver products to your customers quickly, smoothly and securely. PostNord's Skicka Direkt Business has several practical features to help you manage e-commerce shipments. For example, you can book shipping in a few clicks, export your address lists for easier shipping ordering, create and use templates for the most common shipment types, and see all your shipments in one place.

Deliveries and returns - PostNord Portal Business and PostNord App

When running an e-commerce business, you will have to deal with returns and complaints. If you can ensure a simple and accessible returns process, you'll win customers' trust and the chance of them shopping with you again. It is therefore important that you provide a smooth return solution. At PostNord, for example, you can create QR codes for your return sender that they can use to print out a return slip at their post office agent.

By connecting your e-commerce start-up to PostNord, you can also give your customers the opportunity to manage everything related to both deliveries and returns directly from their mobile phones. With the PostNord App, your customers can track their parcels, receive digital notifications, authenticate themselves for parcel collection and manage their returns.

Want to automate your e-commerce to free up your time? At PostNord, we have several integration solutions that make it easy for you to order shipping, manage deliveries and run your e-commerce start-up.

7. Plan the start-up and operation of e-commerce

Now that you have an idea of your products, customers, domains and e-commerce platforms, it's time to plan how your online store will work in practice. What product categories should you have? What other content do you need? How will the customer service work? How should you market e-commerce? With a clear plan on how you will work with e-commerce, you are more likely to run it efficiently and smoothly when you launch it.

8. Start your online store and attract customers

Setting up an online store can be quick, but attracting customers and getting them to buy your products is even trickier. Of course, how you launch your online store depends on your budget and your marketing strategy. Do you want to sneak up on people or bang the big drum and attract interest straight away?

Whatever marketing or launch strategy you choose, it's important that you focus on the right people and formulate a clear message. Read more about how to market your e-commerce here.

Good to read if you are starting an online store

More useful information on starting and running an e-commerce business can be found on the collection page for e-commerce.

Frequently asked questions about starting an e-commerce business

Frequently asked questions about starting an e-commerce business

This is very difficult to say, as it depends, for example, on what you sell, which platform solution you choose, delivery costs, salaries and maintenance of the site.

What does it take to start an online shop?

It requires planning, products and the right resources. For example, to run an e-commerce business you need to have products, a website with an e-commerce solution, a delivery partner and much more.

Who can start an online shop?

Anyone can start an online shop. The most important thing is to find out if you have the necessary resources and what the market is like.

Do you have to start a company to start an e-commerce business?

No, but it is an advantage because you may need an organisation number to use some solutions. It is also good to have a registered company from a tax, VAT and accounting perspective.