6 tips for anyone starting an e-commerce business in 2024

Photo by Shannon Rowies on Unsplash

New year, new… business?

There’s nothing for our collective enthusiasm levels like the start of another 12 months around the sun.

While for some the dawn of a new year means kickstarting a new fitness frenzy, and for others it’s about making a stronger commitment to travel, work/life balance or loved ones (or all of the above), for many it provides the inspiration to finally start that damn business.

And why the heck not?

Whether you want to launch a weekend side hustle or go all in, selling stuff on the Internet has never been more accessible. The challenge – as is almost always the case – is knowing the best way to do it.

Here’s the best part: we have a few pointers.

Believe it or not, as a delivery company we’re uniquely positioned to give e-commerce advice – for the very simple reason that we work with a lot of e-commerce businesses.

So, we’ve pulled together a list of tips for anyone at the start of this journey. Not an exhaustive list (that would take forever), but instead a collection of practical do’s that we think don’t get the airtime they deserve.

Don’t quit your day job

There’s a lot of romanticism in jacking your job in and giving your dream business idea a go. And while it’s made for a much-loved Hollywood storyline, the real world is sadly a lot more brutal – especially in today’s financial climate. 

While you get your business off the ground, your day job is essential to funding both your life and, in a lot of cases, the business too. It’s easy to think that your 9-5 is holding your back, but in reality it’s probably what’s keeping you going.

All that said, there will hopefully come a moment when you need to quit your job because, well, burnout. But try and delay that moment until your business is growing and you’re as financially stable as possible.

Start small

Chances are you’ve been thinking about starting this business for a long time. And so you probably have your product range fully fleshed out in your head.

While there’s no doubt that your plans are polished to perfection, don’t get overexcited and launch everything at once; there’s a lot to be said for doing a few things – or often better still, one thing – really well. And that’s especially true when you’re launching a completely new brand or concept.

Selling a limited range of products within a specific niche will cut your upfront investment and help your audience better understand who you are and what you’re about.

Treat packaging like a differentiator

We’ve seen more packages than hot dinners – many, many more, in fact.

Some brands treat it as a simple box that houses and protects their goods in transit; others see it as that and also a billboard for their brand. The latter companies have plenty to gain from this approach – and they so often do.

You could use your packaging to hammer home what makes your product so amazing or your brand so different; you could commission an artist you love to create something that wows your customers.

Unique packaging is an investment, but one that very often pays back.

Don’t be scared by automation – it’s your friend 🙂

Starting a business is a bit like opening Pandora’s Box – there’s a lot more to it than you probably first thought.

When you daydream about your business you probably don’t think about tasks like inventory tracking and customer communications, but they are what really eat into your time and cause so many headaches.

That’s what we would say if this article was written in 2014, but it’s 2024 and automation is here to save you. The tricky bit is knowing what tools are out there and which you should go with.

This article isn’t here to tell you which are best for your business – how could we know that?! Instead, our message is simple: embrace automation, it’s your friend. And no, you don’t need to be a developer to do it really well.

Leverage marketplaces

One of the biggest new business traps is spending a lot of time, money and energy on a brilliant, all singing, all dancing website – only to then receive very little traffic when you announce it to the world.

The truth is, no matter how good your product is, when you’re starting out it’s very hard to get your brand’s name out there and cut through the noise. So, it can be a wise move to make a name for yourself on marketplaces – like Etsy and Amazon – where you know plenty of people are already browsing and buying things.

And it’s not a case of one or the other – you can both build your brilliant website and sell elsewhere.

Don’t make returns hard

Your product may be amazing but the sad reality is that some people are going to send it back to you. It’s on you to accept this reality and make your returns process a joy.

Like with packaging, your returns process can truly be a differentiator for your brand. When so many others are made not fun (and it feels that way by design), take the moral high ground and streamline yours to perfection. 

After all, customers are probably returning your product because the product isn’t right for them, not because they hate your business.