Bill Gates once said: “If your business is not on the internet, then your business will be out of business.”
ecommerce industry is ushering in the next wave of change for the
Indian economy and if you’ve been thinking about venturing a foot into
its world of infinite profits, then the clock is ticking...the time is
ripe to start your own ecommerce business in India.
Amazon, Flipkart, Snapdeal
showed us that ecommerce truly is the future. And the only way they
became as big as they did was because they realised and experimented
with the brimming potential of the ecommerce market.
were not thinking about numbers then, but we knew something big can be
built out of ecommerce,” Binny and Sachin Bansal, co-founders of
Flipkart, had once said.
Still not convinced? Let’s take a look at the numbers to make a stronger case.
to the Economic Survey of 2017-2018, the ecommerce market in India was
estimated at the $33 billion - a full 19.1 percent growth rate since
What’s more, the Nasscom Strategic Review of 2018
estimated the ecommerce market at $33 billion in 2017-2018 and claimed
that it reached $38.5 billion, indicating a commendable growth rate of
about 17 percent in the financial year 2018-2019, The Business Standard reported.
numbers are the encouragement you need to start your own ecommerce
business in India. Keep at it, and who knows? Maybe you could build the
After all, as Jack Ma puts it - all it takes to
create a successful ecommerce business - is a great vision. “My dream
was to set up my own ecommerce company. In 1999, I gathered 18 people in
my apartment and spoke to them for two hours about my vision. Everyone
put their money on the table, and that got us $60,000 to start Alibaba. I
wanted to have a global company, so I chose a global name,” he said.
So, are you ready? Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to start your own ecommerce business in India.
Step 1: Decide on the perfect business plan and model
first thing you have to do is to think long and hard about narrowing
down on the perfect ecommerce business plan and ecommerce business
There are two types of business models that you can opt for. You can go with either a single vendor or a multi-vendor ecommerce store.
this end, you can choose either a single product line or have multiple
product lines based on the budget you have set for yourself for your
ecommerce business.-vendor marketplace
advantage of going for this type of an ecommerce business model is that
it only involves two entities - a single seller who is selling his or
her product to multiple customers. To this end, it is not only easier to
keep track of the transactions between the two entities, administrative
costs are lower when you have to pay just one supplier, and you also
have more control over the inventory at hand.
kind of model calls for multiple vendors to sell their products to
multiple customers, with the vendors all being required to be registered
with your site.
advantages of following this kind of an ecommerce business model is that
it gives you security in terms of making a sale - for instance, if one
of your suppliers is unavailable to sell his or her products for
whatever reason, you have others to fall back on. This not only helps
you deal with demand fluctuations but also helps prevent a disruption in
the supply process.
It is important to note here, that
within this as well, you can choose to either sell a unique product
yourself - either through your own online business or a similar platform
or can choose to allow other sellers sell their products on your store.
In the first situation, you could earn high margins. In the
second, you will earn a commission, every time one of the sellers
registered with your brand makes a successful sale.
Step 2: Brand your brand
you’ve decided on which business model you wish to follow in order to
build your ecommerce business and have narrowed down on the product or
products you wish to sell, as well as the target audience you wish to
sell to - the next step is to come up with the perfect name for your
Now, you may be thinking - “What’s in a name?”
Tim Ferriss has the answer: “Personal branding is
about managing your name—even if you don’t own a business—in a world of
misinformation, disinformation, and semi-permanent Google records.
Going on a date? Chances are that your “blind” date has Googled your
name. Going to a job interview? Ditto.”
Your brand name should be:
- Short and easy to remember
- Reflective of your brand
- Unique and usually not have another meaning in another language
Along with this, you should also come up with a finalised design for your company logo.
Once you have decided on a name for your brand and its logo, the next step is in forming your company. In India, there are usually four popular kinds of companies:
- Sole proprietorship (no limitation of liability)
- One-person company
- Limited liability partnership (LLP)
- Private limited company
kind of formation you wish to go with is, of course, depending on
whether you wish to run the company independently, or want to bring in
more partners. This is important because if you’ve opted for a corporate
or partnership-based structure, then you are expected to file tax
returns and have a tax ID number. Online businesses of this model
require an Employer Identification Number (EIN) to open a business bank
account so that business taxes can be filed in the next financial year.
EIN is a unique number that identifies your business.
have, however, opted for the sole proprietor model, then you need not
have a tax ID number. You can use your allotted Social Security number
Step 3: Register your ecommerce business
Now comes one of the most crucial parts of starting your ecommerce business in India - registering and completing all the legal formalities for the same.
for the Director’s Identification Number (DIN), which can be downloaded
using the DIN application (DIN 3 form) from the official website of
Ministry of Corporate Affairs. You can also apply DIN online, by just
attaching and uploading the necessary documents.
- Make sure you have your Permanent Account Number (PAN) and Digital Signature Certificate.
you have received the DIN, you can apply to the Registrar of Companies
(ROC), to check for the availability of the name you have chosen for
your company. This can also be done by checking for it on the official
website of the Ministry of Corporate Affairs.
receiving a confirmation on the name, you can incorporate the proposed
company within six months. You also have the option of renewing the name
of the company, by paying a certain fee.
- Apply for the Goods and Service Tax (GST) certification, Shops and Establishment Licence - necessary in cases of Payment Gateway Integration - and Professional Tax (PT).
to open up a Provident Fund (PF) with the respective Provident Fund
Organization; register with the Employees’ State Insurance Corporation
for medical insurance of the employees and finally apply for the
Certification of Company’s Incorporation, where your company will be
officially registered under the Company’s Act, 2013.
Step 4: Opening a bank account
your company is officially registered under the Act, you will need to
open up a bank account for the same. The account can be opened with any
bank but has to be opened in the official name of the company.
you have chosen the proprietorship model for your online business, you
need to obtain GST registration, which will then allow you to open up a
bank account in the name of your online business.
In this case,
once your bank account is ready, you can list the products you will sell
on your ecommerce website, to obtain and then operate a payment
Step 5: Build your ecommerce website
setting up your website, you could either choose a pre-built platform or
make it from scratch. Both have distinct advantages, though building a
website from scratch is usually the more favoured option.
Using a pre-built platform
The advantage of using a pre-built platform like Wordpress and Wix is that they offer you readymade templates - designed according to the kind of online business you wish to run.
instance, if your online business is to do with fashion, then the
template will be one which is colourful, has appropriate space for a lot
of visual content, including a page to place shipping orders.
will not have to waste time and resources on building this website from
scratch, rather you can just play around with the ready-made template
to make it more apt for the design you had in mind, and add in all the
Building a website from scratch:
many often vouch for the custom-made platform option, since you can
visualise and design your whole website - exactly the way you’d imagined
it in your mind.
WooCommerce, Magento, Shopify, Zepo and KartRocket are some of the favoured options for those looking to create websites for their ecommerce business.
you have to keep in mind that it is your website which represents your
whole brand visually - the frontrunner to the entire online business.
Hence, no amount of detail is too little - from the colour to the font
and images - everything should tell a small part of the story to your
As author Paul Cookson put it: “Websites promote you 24/7...No employee will do that.”
To this end, there are a few things you need to consider while launching your company’s official website:
- You need to decide whether you wish to self-host it or hire a professional to oversee and run it, on a daily basis.
need to make sure that multiple posts - be it details about the
services your ecommerce business offers or plain pictures of your
products - is uploaded and shared on your website, every day.
Step 6: Payment gateways
need to set up payment gateways for your online business to become
profitable, as it will allow the processing of credit cards, debit
cards, net banking, and cash card transactions through the ecommerce
In order to be granted a payment gateway for your ecommerce business, you need to submit the following documents:
- Bank account in the name of the business
- PAN card of the business
- Certificate of Incorporation
- Memorandum of Association
- Articles of Association
- Identity proof
- Address proof
you have submitted all these documents, you will be provided with a
payment gateway for your online business, using which you can enable
your online payments.
Some of the popular payment gateways are PayPal, PayU and RazorPay.
Step 7: Logistics
step is essential to carrying out a successful ecommerce business in
India. Logistics refers to the process of shipping an order to a
customer or transporting an inventory to a merchant. This process also
keeps track of the shipped goods which are in transit, until they are
delivered to the customer in question.
To this end, logistics
management involves the practice of locating and identifying distributor
companies, to collaborate with. Most owners of ecommerce businesses
prefer to outsource their logistics to a third-party company working in
transport and storage.
out the logistics is crucial for your ecommerce business since it means
that you now have an effective and steady-fast way to keep track of the
products being delivered- at every step. This will help in preventing
products from going missing and help you respond to customer queries
regarding the expected delivery, successfully.
Here’s explaining the logistics process further.
a customer completes his or her order on your website, you will be sent
a notification through the help of inventory software (which most
ecommerce businesses use). Once the notification is confirmed, then you
need to ship the product in question.
- To this end, you
can tie up with a third party company that deals in supply and
distribution, so that when a customer makes a purchase, the third party
will also be automatically notified and they can send the package out
quickly. This is the more organised process, but usually applicable for
when your online business becomes slightly bigger and you gather enough
resources to tie-up with a distribution company in the first place.
if your company is smaller – for example, if you're running your
website from your home or a separate office and store inventory there,
you just need to package the product in question and send it to the
buyer directly. This will save you the extra cost of having to outsource
your delivery process to a third party.
Step 8: How to attract customers to your website
Anderson, the former CEO of Walmart once said: “You can’t just open a
website and expect people to flood in. If you really want to succeed you
have to create traffic.”
engine optimisation (SEO) marketing strategy is the way of the world
currently and will continue to rule the future of smart marketing.
the attention of potential online customers is paramount for the
success of your ecommerce business. This is where SEO strategies come
in. SEO helps put you on the search engine map. And with 44 percent of
online shoppers beginning their search with a search engine, you need to
be on their radar.
Picking the right keywords
According to reports, about 700,000 Google searches are performed in the span of one minute. To make sure that you show up in these searches, you need to come up with a targeted keyword list.
There are different kinds of keywords that you need to use to make your
online business show up in the search engines. One kind are the
keywords that are between 0-26 characters, usually called ‘head terms’.
The other, are those that are between 26-40 characters, which are
usually more specific.
like Google Keyword Planner, Google AutoSuggest, Keywordtool.io, Keyword
Dominator and SEMrush will help you track down on keywords that will
help your content show up the most on search engine platforms.
are another route you need to go to grab the customer eyeball. You can
opt for the ‘paid ad’ option on platforms like Facebook and Instagram and pay a certain amount of money, for these platforms to promote your advertisement on users’ daily feeds. Once these users click on the ad and are directed to your website, it is your job to convert them into a potential customer.
this isn’t the most practical thing to offer at the initial stages of
starting your ecommerce business, sales and promotions sell like hot
cakes with online customers in India. You could publicise posts and
bulletins regarding these sales, on social media.
is a process where a cookie is placed on the computers of those who
have visited your site once but have exited without purchasing anything.
Once the cookie is placed and when these online users visit another
website that shows advertisements from the retargeting network, your ad
will then be shown to them. While this is an expensive route to undertake, it usually brings in positive results.
Word of mouth
you don’t have that many resources to invest in expensive routes like
advertising, when you’re starting out, then you can always turn to the
oldest practice of making sure that business is being spoken about -
word of mouth.
customers to recommend your brand to their friends and families. You
could also tie-up with professional bloggers and ask them to write and
review your brand so that their reviews can secure more traction to your
There are several other similar routes you can
try as well, and with the constantly changing nature of the Indian
ecommerce market and the rising dominance of social media - you will
always find a way to communicate with potential customers - who are the
make-or-break deciding factors to your online business.
up, starting an ecommerce business in India, especially right now, is a
great idea, considering that the market for it is blooming. But a word
of caution - brace yourself for it isn’t going to be all rainbows and
You may face hurdles when it comes to trying to
register and legalise your online business. And once you fight that and
do get the business recognised, you will face a fair share of
competition, from people like you who are looking to become the next
Jeff Bezos. But, you don’t need to be Jeff Bezos. All you need is your
own vision, a near-foolproof plan on how to execute this vision, and the
patience and discipline to see it through till the end.
The ecommerce world in India is your well of infinite possibilities at this moment. So, jump right in.Updated