Building an Online Business from Scratch in India during Quarantine.

We all know that Quarantine can be the most boring thing happening to us right now but it is important for us to stay inside our homes during these tough times. I was keen on starting an online business of my own from scratch, so I decided to take up a challenge of planning, designing, creating, and marketing a successful eCommerce Website that will process 1,000+ orders in 20–30 days (The website will serve Indian Market only). In India the effects of COVID-19 started from 15 March. I started creating the website on 1st March and it took me around 2–3 hours to build one using Shopify. Now for many Aspiring Entrepreneur, this might seem easy to execute but just a disclaimer I had a lot of prior experience in terms of digital marketing, website designing, and using backends like Shopify, Magento, and WooCommerce, this gave me a jumpstart in terms of this particular challenge.

What is eCommerce in India?

It might sound a weird question to you, but it is a sensible one, unlike the global eCommerce Markets and business models such as Dropshipping and Branded Dropshipping, Running an eCommerce Business in India is TOUGH. There are multiple hurdles we need to take care of before we start a Commerce Business in India. There are problems such as NDR Management, RTO (Return to Origin), Product Sourcing, Ad Account Bans & COD Verifications, and Many More to come. RTO or Return to Origin could literally eat up your profits if COD Verifications and NDR are not managed professionally.

Product Selection is one major aspect when it comes to doing eCommerce anywhere in the world. I used these 3 steps to select my product-

  • Selecting a Category of Selling (Any or Based on Personal Interests)
  • Select a Product that solves a Problem of Audience in that Particular Category.
  • Fit that product into right pricing (Remember, Indian Consumers, want it Affordable as well as High Quality)

What does an Indian Customer want?

  • Indian Customers want your product to be affordable for them.
  • Indian Customers want Fast Deliveries.
  • Indian Customers want Human Support (On-Call or Whatsapp Support).
  • Indian Customers want Huge Discounts.
  • Indian Customers want Premium Quality Products at Low Prices.
  • Indian Customers want Security, they don’t want to lose their money (There should be Well Defined Return and Refund Policies)

After Product Selection was complete, I moved on to designing a marketing campaign and it was time to get the product out there in the market and promote it online. Social media is ever-growing in India and opportunities are endless in Platforms like Facebook, Instagram, TikTok & Linkedin. I decided to run a few marketing conversion-based campaigns on Facebook and Instagram so that I will build up my Facebook pixel and in Future start campaigns with a higher budget.

My Category was kitchen related and therefore, it was right for me to target an audience that loved cooking, kitchenware, kitchen, and they are engaged shoppers who are living in Metro Cities of India (Cities which have high purchasing power) and the audience age group is 22 to 45. We should target people who are more likely to make a purchase. That’s what makes Digital Marketing different from traditional marketing, it gives businesses exposure towards the right audience who are more likely to interact or transact with their business whereas traditional marketing fails to do this. (The campaign was started on 4th march because I had to personally test every product sample and judge its quality, remember a good quality product will always help you reduce your RTO)

How to manage logistics/process the orders?  In order to deliver your orders to customers, you need to register your company with an eCommerce Logistics Firm such as EcomExpress, Delhivery, or FedEx.

The Campaign Started running on 5th of March and We started receiving 10–12 orders on a daily basis it was time to boost the budget after 7 days (Now it is wrong to boost the marketing budget suddenly and it is not preferred for beginners to do this, but in order to achieve the extraordinary goal of successfully processing 1000+ orders it was necessary to boost up the budget). The next morning I wake up at 10:30 am, and open my Shopify Admin App and see 103 Orders (in one day till now)

Here is the screenshot of my sales this month (4th March 2020 – 24th March 2020)

Successfully Reached my Goal of Processing 1000+ Orders in 20 Days. Unfortunately, I had to turn off Ad Campaigns because of Lockdown in our Country due to which there are no more Delivery Pickups happening and it’s a Good step taken in order to avoid COVID-19. You might ask what were my Profits out the Revenue

I am delivering this article not just to show how much and what we can do by utilizing the Power of the Internet, but to show the endless opportunity we behold being in India and our ability to be an opportunist and succeed.

Is Starting an eCommerce in India Easy?

The Honest Answer would be a No, because of the complexities and advanced management requirement, starting an eCommerce brand in India requires a lot of efforts and time. However, if it is treated lightly, in no time the business would go into losses because the Indian Consumers are Sensitive to Price and Quality. Treating this business model as an easy money-making machine would be a mistake as it would not only make the Indian Consumers lose interest in Online Buying but also ruin the reputation of other online brands. Instead, an Online business should be treated, not as a profit-making machine but rather a well-developed Brand, which aims at delivering Value to Indian Customers