The eCommerce industry is flourishing across the globe.
Similar to the previous years, business owners were expecting a steady growth in the eCommerce industry in the year 2020. With the unprecedented arrival of COVID-19, the eCommerce market saw a boost like never before.
Additionally, stats are predicting that the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the shift away from in-store shopping to digital shopping by nearly 5 years. While the demand for grocery, fitness products, electronics, and other home essential items has increased. Product categories like jewelry and travel have seen a decline in sales.
Here are categories that saw an increase or decline in sales in 2020:
Image Source: IBM
Considering the steep growth in eCommerce, business owners are motivated to launch their ecommerce business.
However, starting an eCommerce store is more than simply buying a domain and choosing a hosting partner. Picking the right business niche, technology platform, better customer service, and marketing strategies, all contribute significantly to the success of an online store.
In this post, I’ll share with you which business niche to start, how to choose the right technology partner, and the marketing strategies that will help your eCommerce store grow.
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Online eCommerce businesses that you can start in 2021
Online Grocery Industry: The pandemic has reshaped grocery buying behavior. According to research by the emarketer website, in 2020, the online grocery industry noticed the largest ever increase (53%) in online sales and by 2023, online grocery sales will make up 10% of total grocery sales. Starting an online grocery store is probably the best business idea in 2021.
Online Food Delivery Industry: The online food ordering and delivery trend is certainly overtaking the trend of the traditional phone ordering service. As per the stats shared on the CNBC website, online delivery is currently representing 43 percent of all delivery orders and investment firm Cowen is forecasting a massive 79 percent surge in the total U.S. food home delivery market over the next 5 years.
A comparison chart of the online food delivery market with the offline food delivery market.
Image Source: Mckinsey
eLearning Industry: The pandemic has doubled the growth of the eLearning industry. The trend of virtual learning and teaching continues to grow as schools and colleges are still shut down across the globe. The eLearning industry will reach $243 billion by 2022. You can learn new courses and consult with professionals such as Teachers, Native language Speakers, Fitness trainers, etc. while sitting in the comfort of your home or office. Undoubtedly, the eLearning industry is the future and offers a plethora of business opportunities for budding entrepreneurs.
Online Fashion and Luxury Industry: Growing at 6-8% a year, the online luxury goods industry is expected to reach €390 billion globally in sales by 2025. The growth of the fashion and luxury market is especially emerging in Asian countries. China is the fastest growing region in this market and India’s fashion and luxury market is expected to cross $30 billion by year-end.
Health Supplements Industry: Due to the scare of COVID-19 and the effect it has on the immune system, people have been taking health supplements to keep their immune system strong against the virus. As per the stats, the health supplements industry is growing at a CAGR of 7.4% and is projected to reach USD 29.40 billion by 2027. So being an entrepreneur, investing in an online health supplement business will be a profitable business idea.
Online Liquor Delivery: The preference of products consumers purchase online has changed considerably in the last year. The online sales of liquor have been one niche that has been untapped for many years but due to the lockdown, the sales have skyrocketed on online channels. According to statistics released by the U.S. Department of Commerce, consumers spend around $54.1 billion on the purchase of alcoholic beverages.
However, these business models are not the end of the world. There are many other business models that you can consider to start, like an online rental business, car booking website, or on-demand services marketplace. Choose your business niche with extreme caution as the dream of a successful eCommerce business begins with the choice of the right niche.
Influencing factors that persuade shoppers to shop online
Shoppers from all around the world have been shopping online for most of their products. Google conducted a study in the 4 major countries where the eCommerce sales are high. Top reasons for shopping online were:
- Omni-channel Experience – Modern buyers are not limited to buying from one channel, they want an all-round experience. Businesses must provide a seamless connection between different channels, where customers can buy products online and return them in-store.
- Fast Shipping – Consumers in the U.S. are much more interested in fast shipping times than in-store pickup.
- Mobile Payment (UPI Enabled) – Quick and easy access to mobile devices along with slashed data prices have brought digital payments to the forefront of retail transactions, especially in the case of UPI. This is also evident from the fact that the number of merchants accepting them has increased to over 10 million in a short span of two to three years.
- Discounted Prices – Incentivize repeat visits with promos and coupons. While U.K. consumer habits are related to their U.S. counterparts, they are more inclined to buy from the same store twice.
- Testimonials – Brazilians value product reviews from other customers nearly 2X as much as shoppers in the U.S. or U.K., so make sure they can find reviews on the top of the product page.
- BOPIS & Curbside Delivery – As per stats, Buy Online and Pick up in Store (BOPIS) sales have increased by 259% during the pandemic. Also, 60% of users prefer to use curbside pickup options for their online orders.
The best eCommerce platforms to start an online business in 2021
Shopify is a Canadian company that started in 2006. It is one of the most popular eCommerce platforms in the market. Starting an online store with Shopify is very easy because you can set up your online store successfully in just 15 minutes without the help of any web developer. Shopify is undoubtedly the best eCommerce platform in 2021.
- Shopping stands high in terms of multi-selling channels. You can easily integrate your store with Facebook, Instagram, and Amazon.
- A website built in Shopify usually has a fast loading speed.
- Shopify helps you build a responsive design website and also offers Android and IOS user mobile apps.
- The platform offers guest checkout, one-page checkout, and a one-step checkout option.
- Dropshipping, free SSL certificate, and 24/7 support are some of its other most popular features.
- There is quite a good number of premium Shopify themes and Shopify Experts to jumpstart your eCommerce store.
- You have to pay a transaction fee for every sale.
- Not a good option to start a multi-vendor marketplace.
Shopify offers 3 monthly packages starting at $29, $79 and $299 with 2.9% + 30¢ per online transaction. For more details on pricing, visit: https://www.shopify.in/pricing
Bigcommerce is also a Saas based eCommerce platform and is a direct competitor of Shopify. The platform was founded in 2009 and now has thousands of online stores running on their platform. The platform is known for its high-end features and low pricing.
- No transaction fee.
- Upload an unlimited number of products.
- Responsive design and search engine friendly.
- A number of payment gateway options.
- You can integrate your online store with Amazon, Instagram, and Facebook
- As written on many third-party sites, Bigcommerce customer support is not that effective.
- Limited free themes and templates.
As Bigcommerce doesn’t have any transaction fee, the platform charges you as your store grows and you need to upgrade it. BigCommerce monthly package starts at $29. For more details, visit: https://www.bigcommerce.com/pricing/
YoKart is a popular eCommerce platform that allows you to start a multi-vendor website like Amazon, Etsy, or Alibaba, at a reasonable cost. If you want to start any kind of multi-vendor stores such as a grocery multi-seller store, retail store, fashion store, or a sports marketplace, YoKart is the best eCommerce software in 2021.
- The platform is specifically designed to build an online multi-seller or multi-vendor marketplace.
- Mobile Apps, responsive design, and sleek user interface.
- Pre-integrated with popular APIs such as QuickBooks, Stripe Connect, Taxjar, ShipStation, etc.
- One-time payment means no recurring fees.
- Fully customizable and scalable
- Free demos, FAQs and 12 months of free technical support.
- No Free themes and addons
- Partially encrypted framework
YoKart is a licensed based solution which means that unlike other solutions, business owners don’t need to pay monthly or yearly charges. The packages start at $999. Visit here for more details: https://www.yo-kart.com/multivendor-marketplace-packages.html
30% of total online stores are powered by Woocommerce with 1M+ download. Popular among the masses, Woocommerce is a WordPress toolkit provider to extend the experience. For people who are already using WordPress, Woocommerce is free, but the hosting and extension that comes along is not entirely budget-friendly.
- Free and easy to use platform
- Wide variety of themes and plugins
- Search engine friendly
- Easy to customize
- Secure platform
- Premium themes are costly
- Scalability and support is a major issue.
- Not a suitable platform to start a multi-vendor marketplace
Woocommerce is free, however, you will have to pay for hosting and domain registry. Also, there can be an additional cost, if you opt for paid themes and plugins. Visit here for more details: https://woocommerce.com/features/
5. Quick eSelling
Quick eSelling is a SaaS eCommerce software that allows businesses to start an online store for free. The platform offers a wide range of features and comes with a single CRM for web and apps. The platform is used by 5000+ businesses to build their online stores.
Quick eSelling Pros:
- A free solution for website and mobile app set up
- Multiple payment options
- Customizable user interface
- Integrated with Tax & Shipping management APIs
Quick eSelling Cons:
- The free plan comes with 5% transaction fees
- Limited themes and addons
Quick eSelling offers a free plan that allows business owners to create a website and mobile app. Also, there are 3 paid plans in-case you don’t want to pay transaction fees. For more details, visit: https://www.quickeselling.com/solutions/pricing-us/
Magento is a popular open source eCommerce platform launched in 2008. If you want to start a large scale enterprise, Magento is one of the best options you have. Magento is a huge community with lots of benefits.
- Mobile Apps, Responsive Design, and Highly Secure.
- Customizable and Scalable.
- Multi-Language and Multi Currency.
- You can integrate your store with Facebook, Instagram, Ebay, and other platforms.
- Easy checkout pages like guest checkout, one-page checkout, and one-step checkout options.
- High in pricing especially not an ideal choice for small merchants.
- Programming skills required to maintain a Magento store.
The Magento basic version is free; however, the Enterprise version can cost you a minimum of $20,000 per year. For more details, visit here: https://magento.com/products
Prestashop is also an open-source eCommerce platform and thousands of web-based online stores have been built in Prestashop. The platform was designed to meet the needs of small and medium-sized enterprises.
- A free solution.
- User-friendly interface.
- Mobile and Search Friendly.
- Guest Checkout and One Page Checkout.
- You can connect your Prestashop store easily with Facebook, Amazon, and Rakuten.
- No official customer support team.
- Need above basic development skills to work on the platform.
- You need to pay heavily to convert your eCommerce store into a marketplace.
Prestashop is totally free. The free version is only a basic solution, so you need to buy additional modules that cost between $50 and $150 per module on average. More details can be found here: https://www.prestashop.com/en/prestashop-ready/pricing
Every eCommerce business has different requirements, so finding a perfect ecommerce platform in 2021 for your business, calls for a lot of time-consuming analysis. From the above list, you can choose the best eCommerce platform according to your business needs, technical acumen, and budget.
Guest author: Ankush Mahajan works as marketing manager at FATbit Technologies, one of India’s leading custom software development & ready-made e-commerce solutions company. His expertise lies in branding and formulating marketing strategies for businesses in a number of industries. Follow him on Twitter: https://twitter.com/ankushmahajann