The Basics When You’re Starting an E-Commerce Business

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Starting an e-commerce business is never easy, but in Vietnam where e-commerce is expected to grow by 30-50% per year, there has never been a better time to get involved. As online retail only makes up around 1% of the total retail market in Vietnam there is plenty of room for growth before the environment becomes too saturated. Drivers of growth include an increase in smartphone and Internet penetration rates as well as growing customer openness to online shopping. If you are thinking of starting your own e-commerce business read on for the basics points you need to consider to make it a success.

Choosing the right product and industry

The first step, and often the most challenging one, is to know what products you want to sell. With thousands of online businesses already out there how do you make sure that your idea is going to succeed? A suggested answer is this, if you want to be successful with e-commerce, go niche. Take an idea and transform it into something that people would actively go to your site specifically for. Give them a reason to purchase only from you.

Another key basic which is often overlooked is passion. How interested are you in this industry? Passion for your product and your site is often a strong indicator of success. It is this which will give you the motivation to overcome the challenges and difficulties which will no doubt come your way at some point. Make sure you choose an industry which aligns with what you love doing.


How much will you sell the product for? Realistically it needs to be enough so that you can receive a positive ROI but not so high that customers will be put off parting with that much money through an online site. Find the sweet spot that most people will be comfortable with when putting an order in.

Make sure you know your margins. Many products sold online have a margin of around 30-35% but this varies across the industry. Therefore, before deciding on a product make sure you know the margins and that you will receive a large enough cut on every sale to cover your costs and let you walk away with a profit.

Another thing to think about is the size and weight of the product itself and how this will affect your shipping costs. Larger and heavier items will have higher shipping costs which can negatively affect your sales. Increasingly, customers are starting to expect free shipping and so you may struggle to sell products that require a pricey shipping fee. This can be combatted by increasing the price to cover the cost of shipping, however this may decrease your sales. Save yourself the trouble and choose products that don’t require expensive shipping costs.

Build website

Getting your website right is important as it is where potential customers begin making their purchasing decision. Having a good design and brand can have a real impact on people’s opinion of your company and therefore how often they make purchases. It not only needs to be visually appealing, but also functional and easy to use.

Choosing the right name for you online business is also an important factor which will influence the success of your business. Choose something simple that can be easy to remember and spell, making it easier to find online. Once you have chosen something memorable, check that no one else is using it.

Once you have chosen a company name you can then secure your domain name for your website. Ideally your domain name will be your company name, but if it’s not available try something that is similar and relates to your business.

Driving traffic to your site through SEO

When building an online business, having a great website is just not enough these days. People need to be able to find you online. In fact, successful sites often see about 85-90% of their traffic coming from search engines.  Therefore, implementing high quality Search Engine Optimization (SEO) techniques is key to your success.  Have a strategy that involves linkable content, writing blogs, hosting guest posts, making good keyword choices and getting active in forums.

It is also important to be active on social media. Social media platforms allow you to develop relationships with current and potential consumers, as well as providing opportunities to share vouchers or information about upcoming sales. Having a social media presence and following people will help with customer retention and help establish a good reputation for your online business.

Payment Solutions

To enable you to sell anything on your site you will need to have a functional payment processor. Without a having a proper payment solution set up you will not be able to process a customer’s credit card information to complete the transaction. There are a variety of payment solutions so do your research to ascertain the right one for you.

One of the important things to consider is security. When purchasing from your e-commerce site customers are trusting you to safeguard their personal payment information, so take security seriously.

Choosing the right payment solution also influences the customer experience of your site. Aside from security, speed and reliability are also important factors during the checkout process. Poor customer experience is often the result of cart abandonment and there will be no repeat visitors to your site. There are many different payment solutions, so chose one that is best for your customers as well as for your business.

Want to find out more about how to start up a successful e-commerce business and how to scale it up? Join us in Ho Chi Minh on the 6th and 7th of September for our Seamless Vietnam conference. Find out more here.

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