How to start an Ecommerce business

An online presence is essential for success in today's business world. Find out how your business can take advantage of the connectivity to expand into digital markets.


An online presence is essential for success in today's business world. The internet has democratised the business playing field and allowed small business owners to extend their market across borders by selling their products or services online. Find out how your business can expand into digital markets by creating a profitable online store.

Identifying what your business can sell online


Most brick and mortar stores already have some online presence, whether it's via a website or social media platforms. However, it's no surprise that a traditional brick and mortar business doesn't offer the same scope or potential for growth that a scalable ecommerce store does. In addition, recent global events have amplified the importance of selling products digitally and staying connected with your target customers to ensure business continuity. So, is there potential within your business strategy to add ecommerce functionality to your digital presence?


Before you start an ecommerce business, begin by evaluating product ideas you could offer online. But, with online distribution, you can sell more than just your product. Even traditional face-to-face service businesses have an opportunity to package services, educational content and provide remote offerings to potential customers via an ecommerce site.

Setting up your site


When deciding to sell online, your most significant investment will probably be the formation of your ecommerce store. Consider hiring a professional designer who can build you a comprehensive and attractive ecommerce business website that's easy to navigate and, most of all, enable customers to begin shopping online. Before you start an ecommerce business:

  • Ensure your ecommerce business plan includes Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) for your site, so your target audience can find you online via search engine queries. The higher you rank in search results, the better.
  • An essential factor for any profitable ecommerce business is to include photography and videos on their site. Showcasing your own products in the best light is critical for buyer confidence when they cannot hold the physical products in their hands to evaluate quality.
  • New eCommerce businesses will need to purchase a unique domain (the website address) and web hosting. And, if you can, have a domain name that's easily recognised and found by your customers.

Using third-party platforms.


Search for the right ecommerce platform that makes it easy to plug-and-play an online business without building a bespoke back-end structure. For example, Stripe and Wix are easy-to-use ecommerce website builders that will quickly get a small ecommerce business up and running online. You could also create a Shopify store that features powerful tools to help you find your target audience, drive sales, and manage your ecommerce business.


You can also use the increasing number of online marketplaces where after you set up an account and space, you can list and start selling immediately.


For example:

  • Trade Me (for almost everything) and Amazon for worldwide coverage.
  • Felt for New Zealand-made arts and crafts and Builderscrack for tradespeople to list and promote their services.
  • Marketplace, which is set up to sell to NZ government agencies.
  • Facebook Marketplace to buy and sell personal items.
  • Art Broker helps a small niche market like artists to find a channel to sell products. 

Set up a secure online payment system


Most people use internet banking, but a successful online business gives customers different options to pay. For example, credit cards, online direct debits, or third-party sites like PayPal and Poli.


Security is a top priority for payments and consumer confidence. Talk with us about our available payment options, as not all shoppers pay with a credit card. Buy-now-pay-later services such as LayBuy and AfterPay are also gaining popularity with customers for in-store and online purchases. These services allow customers to buy what they want today and pay it back in interest-free instalments, so it's worth adding flexible payment options to your online store.

Tools to run your digital business


You'll find many ecommerce products like tools and plug-ins to help automate and streamline your online operations so that your new business can practically run itself. For example, ecommerce software creates a connected workflow of systems so data can flow between different platforms. This can help reduce the administrative handling involved in making sales. Some popular methods to consider include:

  • Accounting software such as Xero and MYOB integrate with online sales platforms and connect what's happening in your business and business bank account.
  • Google Analytics is a popular marketing tool used by successful ecommerce business owners as part of their marketing strategy. It provides insights into the behaviour of website visitors to your ecommerce store. This information can help you refine and optimise your marketing tactics by creating content for better engagement, SEO and user experience.
  • Vend is a point-of-sale system for retail store owners.
  • Marketing automation software can help ecommerce stores take care of digital customer communication, on-demand or on schedule, such as HubSpotZendesk and Zoho.

Creating a successful business online means you can dramatically reduce the business costs associated with a traditional physical store while increasing your sales. And, developing your own online store is a great way to improve your profit margins. In addition, you can sell 24/7 to a global customer base while building your ecommerce brand name in the international marketplace.


Online stores also reduce rent and staff expenses—which means more significant cash flow. Online distribution channels are also a great way to start if you're planning to move your ecommerce business ideas into exporting since you'll get a feel for the international marketplace and make important contacts.

Next steps


  • Consider your current business model and determine what opportunities exist for your business to generate income through an online channel.
  • Research what systems or the best ecommerce platform will work for your business. Next, you'll need to create a secure and seamless online shopping experience along with great customer support.
  • Identify if any third-party marketplaces would suit your ecommerce business and be another channel for your target market.
  • Investigate payment systems and decide which solutions are suitable for your own ecommerce business idea.
  • Whatever business you're in, ASB has a range of payment solutions to make payment acceptance quick, easy and convenient.
  • Create website content and invest in a scalable website platform that you can easily update and manage yourself.
  • Get in touch with ASB by enquiring online, visit a branch, call 0800 272 222 or contact your banker.

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