Anyone who has access to the Internet is likely familiar with the term “ecommerce business.” According to a report by the UN, “the growth of the ecommerce industry is evident in recent years as everything has gone online due to Covid-19”. Starting an ecommerce business has now become the go to business model for many aspiring entrepreneurs. However, the most terrifying concern of new-timers is the involved investment.
But there is a way around. From selling products to selling services, entrepreneurs are doing it all without any investment. Yes, you heard it right! Starting an ecommerce business without money is easier said than done, but it’s definitely possible. This blog will show you how to start an ecommerce business without any investment and build a successful ecommerce company. Let’s get going.
What is Ecommerce?
Ecommerce is the process or market where online transactions take place for the purpose of buying and selling. Customers go to the marketplace, buy stuff, pay the amount, and that’s how ecommerce businesses make money. This market has helped small and traditional businesses expand their distribution by building an online customer base for generating more sales.
With the rapid advancement of technology, people are getting everything under their thumb. Hence, they’re enjoying the convenience of shopping without having to leave their home. On top of that, people literally have millions of options to choose from while shopping online, giving them more flexibility. According to Forbes, the global ecommerce market is expected to grow by 10.4% in 2023, reaching a value of $6.3 trillion. And by 2026, this industry is expected to reach $8.1 trillion in value.
By the way, as you’re reading this article, it is very likely that you want to start an ecommerce business too. Let me tell you then, this is probably the second best time to start one. Second best? Yes, the best time was yesterday! Let me show you how you can start an ecommerce business with a little or no cost:
Starting an ecommerce business without any investment
Before we start, let me tell you: ‘The competition is tough.’ There are countless people diving into this sector every day and every established ecommerce company is trying to leverage their individual strengths. Hence, in order to start and expand your ecommerce business, you must differentiate yourself in such a crowded market.
In the times we live in, starting a business with no money seems even harder than rocket science. But to make your ecommerce journey smoother, I’ve put up a step-by-step guide on how to start an ecommerce business without any investment.
Here we go:
STEP 1 : Consider various business models and decide what you wish to sell
It is a cut-throat industry. Hence, before you step into this industry, you need to know it inside-out. Let’s start with the business models: (This step requires no investment)
- B2C – A Business to Consumer ecommerce company deals with the online transaction between a business and a consumer without any middle-man. This transaction is for offering products and services to the customer. Examples of a B2C ecommerce company can be businesses like H&M.
- B2B – A Business to Business ecommerce company deals with the online transaction between two businesses. A good example of a business to business ecommerce company is Scenes, a business selling their community software to other businesses.
- C2C – An online transaction between two consumers is called Consumer to Consumer business model. Both the consumers can exchange products and services on a platform without needing any companies. An example for a C2C ecommerce company would be **OLX.**
- C2B – A Consumer to Business ecommerce company is a platform that connects people with clients so that people can offer their services to them. For example, freelancers being able to offer their services to a client/business on platforms such as Upwork.
STEP 2 : Decide a Revenue Model for your Ecommerce Business
While you’re selecting a business model for your ecommerce company, you should also look into the revenue models your company will use to make money. Here are some of the income models you can use – (This step requires no investment)
- Dropshipping – An ecommerce business can accept orders from customers while not really owning the products, thanks to dropshipping. A supplier is contracted by an ecommerce company to pack and send the orders that the customers have placed. Setting up an online store is how a company can engage in drop shipping.
- Subscriptions – Ecommerce companies can offer subscriptions to their loyal customers. They can introduce different subscription packages that offer different features to their customers. This revenue model ensures sales in the long run.
- White labeling – In this revenue model for ecommerce business, ecommerce companies repackage other company’s successful products in their own packaging and brand name. Here, the ecommerce company manages the delivery of the goods after repackaging.
- Private Label – A manufacturer can be hired by an ecommerce business to produce goods on their behalf and then label them with the company’s name.
STEP 3 : Draft your Ecommerce Company Plan
After finalizing your company model, the next step is to create a comprehensive business plan. Creating a strong ecommerce business plan requires careful thought and consideration. Start by understanding your target market and what sets you apart from competitors. Clearly outline your products or services, pricing strategy, and marketing approach. Plan for sales and operations, including inventory management and order fulfillment.
You also need to develop financial projections, including revenue, expenses, and expected profitability. Lastly, have a scalable growth strategy and a backup plan in case things change. Regularly review and update your plan to adapt to market changes and ensure long-term success.
(This step too requires no investment)
STEP 4 : Pick a name for your business and start building your online brand.
People often ask: ‘What’s in the name?’ But within the ecommerce industry, a solid name can clearly convey the product and value you’re selling. The name you choose should accurately represent what your products are all about. It’s crucial to check if the name you have in mind is available as a web domain, so do a thorough search.
Starting a business with limited funds is possible, but keep in mind that you’ll need a small budget for purchasing the web domain. However, it is not more than 6 months of a Netflix subscription!
(This step requires an average of $49/year)
STEP 5 : Choose a platform for setting up your ecommerce store.
When it comes to choosing a platform for your ecommerce store, there are a few things to consider. First, think about your specific needs and what features are important to you. Platforms like Shopify, WooCommerce, and BigCommerce are popular and offer user-friendly interfaces.
Look at your budget and scalability requirements as well. It’s also essential to think about your technical expertise and how much customization you want for your store. Consider factors like payment gateway integrations, mobile-friendliness, and SEO capabilities.
Take the time to read reviews, compare pricing plans, and see what kind of customer support is available. Ultimately, go with a platform that fits your business goals and provides a smooth shopping experience for your customers.
(This step requires an average investment of $50/year)
STEP 6 : Build a website for your business.
A well-designed, appealing website is essential for the expansion of your ecommerce business. To create a website for you, you can hire a web developer. However, if you’re starting an ecommerce business with no money, a no-code platform like Webflow can save your ecommerce company. With the help of no-code tools, you can create a personalized website and begin working on other ecommerce company duties.
Remember the domain you bought to catch the name? This is where it is used. After building a savvy website, the next-step is to list all the products you’re selling.
Your business is officially on the run!
STEP 7 : Start marketing your ecommerce business
Once you’re ready to launch your online store, start marketing your e-commerce company on your own. Why do I say ‘on your own’? Because we’re trying to keep our business costs as low as possible.
Now, to promote an ecommerce business without spending a dime, your best allies can be social networking sites like Instagram, Tik-Tok, Pinterest, and Twitter. You need to start creating content on these sites, promote your products through the content, get people to watch the content. That’s it. Creating content is easy. Promoting products is easy. Getting people to engage with your content, and buy your products is hard. This is where all of your revenue stays.
One piece of advice: Learn sales, marketing, and human psychology. This is your only way of selling your products without spending money.
STEP 8 : Seek Feedback.
Don’t fixate on any idea or product. Be curious about how to make your products and services better. Be available and quick to adapt changes. Contact your consumers and ask for feedback as soon as you begin selling your products. Ask them about the features of your product they liked and the features they didn’t like.
Time your business strategies according to the people who’ll pay you money and you’re good to go.
Also read: 10 Best Side Hustle Ideas for all Dreamers
Starting an ecommerce side-hustle without any upfront investment is an exciting possibility, although it’s important to note that it’s not completely free. However, the good news is that it can be incredibly affordable, often costing as little as $100 per year, which can be termed as ‘ALMOST FREE’.
By leveraging low-cost or free online platforms, utilizing social media to reach customers, and tapping into your own skills and resources, you can keep expenses to a minimum. It all depends on your thorough research to find budget-friendly options for domain registration, web hosting, and other essential services.
With careful planning, creativity, and a modest investment, you can launch your ecommerce business with minimum cost and gradually turn it into a profitable venture. Remember, success is within reach, even with a limited budget. You just need to stay FuelEd.