Wondering how to start online business in India? This blog is for you.
Online Business is growing rapidly in India. In recent years India has witnessed a huge surge in the number of people using the internet.
India is one of the biggest smartphone markets, thanks to faster & cheaper internet. Due to the smartphone revolution, the number of people using the internet has increased considerably.
There are around 65 crore Indians using Mobile Phones & nearly 30 crores of them are using smartphones according to a recent survey by Counterpoint Research.
This has opened new avenues to entrepreneurs in the form of Online Business. The number of online stores is growing every day.
A lot of online stores are on the way to be rolled out & countless are in the planning stage.
Online business is attracting a lot of wannabe entrepreneurs for sure however a lot of people are still struggling to figure out how to start an online business in India.
Why to start Online Business in India
Online business is poised to grow big in India. If you are wondering why to start online business in India, here are 6 compelling reasons to join the wagon.
Ease of Doing Business
Until few years ago starting an online business was an uphill task but not now anymore. There are many options for most of your requirements.
Licensing has become fairly easy & you can apply for it online as well.
There are many e-commerce giants operating in India today. You could choose amazon or flipkart or choose to sell on both.
In case you want to have your own online store platform you may go with shopify or many other players in the industry. You may even customize your platform as per your requirement.
Online Business Offers Widespread Market
Traditional stores have a geographical limit as one might not travel far to buy something from a specific store.
Selling online has empowered you to sell to someone who is at the other end of the country. Some e commerce operators even allow you to sell on their international platforms as well.
Offering quality products at a value for money price allows you to capture a major chunk of market.
Increasing Trend Towards Buying Online
With the cheap internet availability in India, ecommerce players are reaching to the nook & corners of the country.
Buyers are also exposed to a wide variety of options to choose from. These new buyers are fuelling the growth of ecommerce industry in India
According to IBEF India is the fastest growing ecommerce market. Revenue from the sector is expected to rise from USD 39 billion in 2017 to USD 120 billion in 2020, growing fastest in the world at an annual growth rate of 51% (Source – https://www.ibef.org/industry/ecommerce.aspx)
Online Business is Open 24/7
Traditional brick and mortar stores are closed for a certain part of the day, usually at night. You have an edge here as your online store is open 24/7.
In today’s busy world buyers might not have the time to go and visit a store or they might be working at the same time as you are. Commute, traffic & parking might be other concerns.
Your advantage as an online seller is that your store is open when the buyers are willing to buy. Your prices are competitive and you are delivering the goods conveniently to the buyers doorstep.
Lowered Fixed Cost
Prime location is the key factor in the success of most traditional stores. Prime location mean steep rental costs.
Online store eliminates the need of prime location and in turn you can significantly save on your fixed costs. You might need a space to store the goods but the rent could be manageable as the godown need not be in a prime location.
You could start online selling from your home so as to share most of the resources like place, electricity, internet, etc
Flexible Work Timings
This is another critical benefit of selling online. Apart from being your own boss, the most important thing is flexibility of working hours.
This allows you to start selling online even while you are working full time. A little help from your family is needed here though.
Following are the steps to start Online Business in India
Decision to start online business
This is a pretty basic yet very important step. A lot of people dream about it however very few actually end up doing. In other words, it’s like the number of people involved in planning a Goa trip and those who actually land up in Goa.
Identifying the products
This is the most important step as the entire online business revolves around it.
You could refer to the established marketplaces like Amazon & Flipkart. They are a great resource to check the top-selling products & product categories.
In my opinion, the following categories have great potential: Home Improvements, Home Furnishings, Jewellery, Apparel & Accessories, Electronics etc.
Hunting for the right vendors
This is one of the most time-consuming steps where you need to list & freeze the right vendors. An online business needs vendors for:
2. Product Photographs
4. Website Content
6. Packaging Supply
7. Company Registration
8. Legal Compliance’s
9. Tax Consultation
Here you need to understand the costs & the overheads. Simply put the product cost, costs of operation, your margins will help you to arrive at the selling price of the product.
You could also benchmark the price by having a look at the prices of your competitors.
Online marketplaces will be a great resource for this.
Creating a business plan
A business plan will help you to steer your organization in the long run.
Decide your objectives & Core Values. They will help you in every critical situations.
List down the financial needs, sales projections & a break-even point.
Company Formation / Firm Registration
To establish your entity legally, you could choose any of the following options:
Limited Liability Partnership
Private Limited Company
Public Limited Company
Open a current Account
You need a bank account to accept the payments. For businesses, it is the current account to be precise.
To start with, not so popular nationalized banks are the best bet as they have better service & flexibility.
Apply for a GST Number
You can apply for a GST on your own or you could get it done from your tax consultant or a CA for as low as Rs. 300
Finalize the brand name
This is another critical step where you give an identity to your business. Generally speaking, your brand name should be catchy, unique, easy to remember & small.
Create a Marketing Plan
This is the backbone of your business. A well-executed marketing strategy could take your business far.
The key is to prepare your buyer persona, identify the target market and finding the means to take your products to them.
Finalize the web platform / vendor
Order your first lot of products
By this time you should go ahead to order your first lot of the products. Once the products arrive, things usually move fast.
Get the product photos & description ready
Product photos play a very crucial role in e-commerce. A clear & tempting photo will make the buying decision easy.
You can click the photos yourself with a DSLR, however this demands fair amount of skills & time.
There are plenty of professional product photographers who can provide ready to use product photos.
Equally important is the description of the products. To the point, detailed description helps to answer possible buyer queries.
Freeze the shipping partner
Believe it or not, shipping could be a real pain as you are the owner of the product till it reaches the client.
If you can empower your client with all the tracking details, chances are that the client will be assured of the goods dispatched and will track them as & when he/she wants.
Following are some of the aggregators which will help you to consolidate your shipping efforts.
Get Your Online Store Ready
Getting your store ready would feel like a summit, however, this is just the beginning of the climb.
Make a trial run
Trial run is like a mock drill, it helps you to understand how things actually work & where are the loose links in the entire process. This will make sure that the entire system like the payment gateway, order notification emails, courier integration, courier pickup & the delivery works smoothly & in unison with each other.
This will give you a chance to take corrective action if something is not working as intended.
This will save you the last minute firefighting if it happens in an actual client order.
Promoting the store
Once the store is officially launched you need to promote the online business on all the social platforms like Facebook Instagram.
This will help you to generate the much-needed traffic to your store. In fact, a good digital marketing plan will help you to stay on top & compete with your contemporaries in the market.
This article is to assist those who want to start their online but not sure how to start an online business in India. I have compiled above steps based on my involvement in two online business, one in wildlife photography & accessories & other imitation jewellery.
I hope this would have answered how to start an online business in India. Please let us know if this article has helped in any way. Also do let us know if you would like us to write anything specific related to startups, sales & digital marketing.
Until next time
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