How to Start an Online e-Commerce Business in India

In this article, we cover the basic idea of how to start an e-commerce store in India. From branding to shipping to payment gateways, you can find all the necessary information on how to start a store online within a week in India.

E-commerce has truly revolutionized the shopping experience for Indian consumers. It is expected to grow to a $200 billion industry by 2026. Years ago setting up a business was a painstaking and intense time-consuming process and not to mention the high risk and capital required to start a business. But things have changed for the good, and now you can set up an online eCommerce business within one week and that too with very little upfront investment. In this article let's find out what all are needed for setting up an online store covering various aspects of the business.
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Choosing the business model

To start there should be an idea of what the business should be, there are several business models available like dropshipping, wholesaling and warehousing, private labelling, white labelling, etc. It all comes down to the amount of time and money one is willing to spend on the business. For example, dropshipping is one of the most widely seen business models that are adopted by beginners, because in dropshipping one doesn't hold stock for the product he is selling but merely connects the consumer with the manufacturer or supplier by being a middle man. Since no private warehousing is required, no upfront cost is needed.

Build an online eCommerce store in India


With that out of the way, the next thing to figure out is the brand. According to John Jantsch, "Branding is the art of becoming knowable, likeable, and trustable." Branding is not be taken lightly and building a reputable brand can have a huge advantage over other similar rival companies. The first step to branding is figuring out the brand name. It should be something simple, preferably one word, and easy to remember and if possible something related to the niche you are dealing with.

Creating a Brand logo

Check if a domain name is available for the brand name and if it is available, go on and book it. Create a brand logo and pick a brand colour. It might feel silly to choose a colour for the brand, but believe me, it gives a much more pleasant brand experience for the consumer. For the brand logo, you can either create it yourself, with tools like Canva which makes the process a lot easier. But if you prefer someone else creates it for you, then head on to Fiverr and hire some graphic designer to create a logo for your brand. You can get a decent enough logo for $5. While checking which gig to choose in Fiverr, make sure that gig offers unlimited revisions, has good reviews and offers high-quality source files ( .eps or .ai).

Setting up the online store

Next, we need to have a platform to host our online store. I prefer Shopify because of its simplicity for setting up a store, and it has got some pretty good looking themes and functionalities. Their mobile app helps a lot in managing the store when you are away from a PC. This article is not endorsed or affiliated to Shopify, I just love the platform and would prefer it over any other existing e-commerce platforms out there.

Shopify and WooCommerce- Platforms to start an online store

But there is a catch: Shopify's basic plan costs $29/month, which converts to about ₹2100 per month. That is a big expense depending upon your budget. If it's affordable don't look back just continue with Shopify. But if you are dealing with a very tight budget, then you can buy some cheap hosting and get your store up and running in WordPress with the Woocommerce plugin.

Choosing a hosting server for the online store

I would suggest staying away from cheap shared hosting because the plans would be attractive but one day you will step into some performance issues because in shared hosting cheap plans, the amount of ram is too low and the store will start to lag up if it receives a good amount of user. The better option here is to go with cloud hosting like Digital Ocean on Amazon Web Services(AWS). For Digital Ocean, the base plan starts at $5/month and they have a server here in Bangalore which will ensure quick page loads( Obviously page load speeds depend on how optimized is the website, but having a closer server to the user ensures a smaller TTFB(Time To First Byte)).

Payment Gateway

Online shopping

With Shopify or Wordpress (there are other options too like Wix, Squarespace, etc, but mentioned the most common here), build the online store. Now you should have some method to collect payment form the user, and that is where payment gateways come in. They provide a secure method for collecting the payment from the user's side and depositing it in your bank account. Some popular payment gateways are PayU, RazorPay, PayTM, etc. Register an account with any of the gateways by providing your details like bank account details, PAN card details, etc. After getting your account approved connect it with your online platform. You can find the appropriate guide on the payment gateway's website.

Cash On Delivery

Since we are dealing with Indian consumers, the most preferred payment option is Cash On Delivery(COD). Indians prefer COD over online payment because of the trust factor, that is why branding is so important. COD might look like a good option for the buyer, but it is one of the worst nightmares for an e-commerce business owner. This is because of RTO(Return to Origin), which essentially means that the product is returned to the warehouse because the buyer was unable to pay for the order when it arrived in their doorstep. RTO is a lengthy topic which we will discuss in another article(along with some tips on how to reduce RTO rate, so keep coming back to Techulator to read it when it goes live!)

Product and Shipping

That was all about setting up the front end of the store, and what the end consumer sees and interacts with. Let us see about product and shipping. Depending upon the business model you chose, you will have to either manufacture the products that you are selling, buy in bulk from a manufacturer/supplier and store the inventory, or drop-ship the product from a 3rd party supplier.

Packing and Shipping product

If you are manufacturing the product yourself or buying in bulk, you will have to rent out a small warehouse to store and ship out the products as and when an order comes. For packing, bulk order packing material like a cardboard box or plastic bags that are cheaply available to buy online. A printer is a must to print invoices and shipping labels. For shipping, tie-up with a logistics/courier company like Delhivery, FedEx, etc. Register with your business details along with the warehouse address. When a new order gets placed, pack the product and print the invoice and label and put a pickup request to the courier partner.


In case you are dropshipping the product, be wise in choosing the supplier. If possible visit the factory and the supplier to make sure that they are genuine. After selecting the supplier make arrangements for shipping orders, payment, etc. Make sure the supplier is equipped enough to face surges in product orders, as during festive season the number of orders can increase exponentially and it will not be a good experience if the supplier is unable to cope with the demand. As a backup have a minimum of 2 other suppliers ready in case the primary suppliers fail to deliver.

Wrapping it up

There you have it, your online business is up and running, but of course, no one other than you and your supplier knows about this business, so the next step is to market the products and your brand in front of potential buyers using the advertisement. That is one another big topic to cover so keep checking back on Techulator to read my upcoming articles on marketing and advertising an e-commerce store, everything to know about RTO, running Print-on-Demand(POD) business in India and many more.

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I hope you got an idea of how to start an online e-commerce business and how easy it is to start one in this era. E-commerce is a booming business opportunity in India, with more and more people getting connected to the Internet every year. So plan and conquer this opportunity wisely.


Author: Umesh12 May 2020 Member Level: Gold   Points : 6

There are many platforms where one can host one's online shop and start selling particular items. Today there are many contenders for selling merchandise online and the competition is becoming fierce day by day. It means that the price of the item should be comparable to other platforms or sellers because a shrewd buyer will compare the prices before placing an order. Another important thing is that many people think that online selling is an easy job but it is not so as it involves not only to have a sturdy platform but also a good networking capability of the seller to coordinate with the actual supplier or wholesaler and the buyer. Then there are issues of bad quality material and the buyer would send it back on the first opportunity.

A person interested to start an online selling venture should go through all these apprehensions and learn beforehand the tips and techniques to mitigate them. By doing this exercise he would not feel the difficulties in such situation.

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