How to start your own E-commerce business - Kotak Bank

E-commerce is a thriving business in today’s times. With every convenience available at the click of a button, people have welcomed the e-commerce boom with open arms. Indian websites like Flipkart, Makemytrip, Myntra and many more have proven how successful an e-commerce business can get if it's planned the right way. Here are a few tips that will help you get your footing in this seriously competitive business:

Know what you are getting into

The most important thing to keep in mind before starting an e-commerce business of your own is to understand that your competitors aren’t only in the field of e-commerce, but the entire retail industry. E-commerce is only a fraction of the retail industry and the players in this field are innumerable. Every day, a new retail start-up rears its head, both online and offline, offering something new and fresh. Before venturing into such a highly competitive market, you'll need to be clear about a few things:

1) How original is your idea?
The e-commerce business has been explored from every nook and corner. But yet there is always room for innovative ideas that can cater to a wide audience. The more original your offerings, the higher the chances that people will swerve towards your website. With a platform as infinite as the World Wide Web, there is always scope to expand with minimum investment; something the offline retail industry really struggles with.

2) Research the industry
Scroll the Internet like you never have before. Read up on trends, success and failure stories of other e-commerce businesses, what works and doesn’t work for the sector, what has been done to death or what hasn’t been explored yet, who are the people who made their e-commerce dreams a reality, who are the competitors, what do the competitors offer; the list goes on and on.

3) Measure your growth opportunity
It is estimated that India’s e-commerce business is set to grow from US$30 billion in 2016 to US$100 billion in 2020! M-commerce, or mobile shopping, has a big role to play in this as well. With India being the second largest smart phone market in the world, after China, it doesn’t come as a surprise. So, begin to understand how you would like to expand your e-commerce business beyond just staying available on the Internet. Taking the m-commerce way, or hosting pop-ups in local flea markets, or setting up an actual store that people can visit; these are just some ideas that can help you go a long way.

4) Production
The e-commerce business is the business of selling. And, in order to sell, you need to offer products that your customers will look forward to buying. Once you have decided what it is that you want to sell, start looking into logistics. You need to make sure you are well-stocked, right from the beginning. If you sell out quickly, chances are new visitors will walk away disappointed and not visit your website again. Making sure your customer gets what they want is the surest way of earning their loyalty. If you want to get into the apparel market, make sure you have sizes that cater to Indian measurements. You can’t have a large stock of size ‘S’ if 'M' is what the average Indian woman wears.

5) How to price your commodity
The most important aspect of any business is the money you will procure from it. We all remember learning about profit and loss during our school days; now it’s time to implement it. When calculating the final selling price, make sure you have taken everything into consideration: production costs, labour costs, profit margins, payment gateway costs, shipping costs, website maintenance costs and more. Also, being in the e-commerce business, you need to lure customers by offering attractive discounts and coupons every now and then. With all this in tow, make sure you have a good plan in place.

Building your business, step by step
Now that you have done all the necessary research and are sure about your decision to open your own e-commerce business, let’s go through the steps necessary for registration. It’s about time you get the engine hooting and tooting.

1) Build your website
What is an e-commerce company without a website? It is absolutely paramount to build a website that is as attractive as the products you wish to sell on it. With free domains available on WordPress, it’s almost too easy to create a website as well. However, there is nothing like investing in your own website. A paid domain and hosting service will easily turn up on search networks; hence help promote your business better. Websites like Godaddy.com and Goodsie.com offer basic website creation and hosting services at competitive rates along with logistical and technical support. Also, while building your website, make sure it has a mobile friendly interface as well. Invest in a good web development team that is in sync with your brand’s identity, so that the website reflects your brand.

2) Secured payment gateway
Before going live with your website, make sure you have found the right payment gateway. They are basically e-commerce services themselves, that process credit and debit card payments. Right from CC Avenue to Citrus Pay, there are a host of options to choose from depending on your business structure and revenues. They are vital role in the transaction process as they authorise the payment between merchant and customer.

3) Registrations

In order to start your business, you need to get the following registrations in order:

  • VAT Registration – In order to sell goods and products in India, you need a VAT registration. It can be obtained from the State’s Sales Tax Department.
  • Company or LLP Registration – It’s always a good idea to have a company or LLP to have limited liability protection and improve the ease of doing business. LLPs offer limited liability, tax advantages, can accommodate unlimited number of partners, and are credible. Both Company and LLP can help speed up your process of opening a bank account for the company or obtaining VAT/Service tax registration.
  • Legal Documents – It is important to protect your business through proper use of terms and conditions documents and privacy policies. These documents have to be drafted by the business based on the nature of its activities and products sold.
  • Bank Account – You need to open a bank account in your business’s name. If you are a Proprietorship firm, VAT registration must be obtained before opening the bank account. Bank accounts are necessary to plug in your payment gateways and safeguard all your finances that will come handy with every step of your business. You can talk to our relationship manager for attractive offers and the right plans to fuel your business. 

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Disclaimer: This Article is for information purpose only. The views expressed in this Article do not necessarily constitute the views of Kotak Mahindra Bank Ltd. (“Bank”) or its employees. Bank make no warranty of any kind with respect to the completeness or accuracy of the material and articles contained in this Newsletter. The information contained in this Article is sourced from empaneled external experts for the benefit of the customers and it does not constitute legal advice from Kotak. Kotak, its directors, employees and the contributors shall not be responsible or liable for any damage or loss resulting from or arising due to reliance on or use of any information contained herein.