Getting a business off the ground or taking a side hustle from a passion project to a profitable business is easier than you think. The rise of e-commerce in South Africa and the unpredictability of COVID-19 have made it almost mandatory for all businesses to have an online presence. With most businesses having to move online anyway, it makes perfect sense that newer businesses start online. 

If you’ve been toying with the idea of starting your own e-commerce store but don’t know where to even start, you’ve clicked on the right place. We’ll be giving you a five-step guide to starting your own online store and all you’ll need is a computer (or any smart device), a strong internet connection and 10 minutes. 

5 steps to building an e-commerce store in under 10 minutes 

Choose a niche and write a business plan 

The most successful businesses all come from someone identifying a gap and working to fill it. Even if you want to venture into a saturated industry, you can always do thorough research and spot the unfulfilled consumer demands and work to meet those. 

Here’s how you find your niche and work on formulating a business plan:

  1. Conduct a SWOT analysis: a SWOT analysis entails identifying strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats
  2. Find the industry gaps: use social media to identify trends and concerns. Also, use Google Trends
  3. Check what the bestsellers are: look at your favourite e-commerce websites in your industry and check what items they are selling the most. 
  4. Analyse your customer personas: know your customer demographics; age, location, income and occupation. Also study the psychographics data; interests, values, beliefs and aspirations.
  5. Write your business plan: this will be the roadmap that will guide your business through each stage.


Register a domain name 

Now that you have a business plan and know your customer demographics, the next step is to register your business domain. Here are tips for finding the perfect domain for your budding online business:

  1. Keep it simple, short and memorable
  2. Ensure that it is easy to spell 
  3. Make it brandable and unique 
  4. Avoid hyphens and special characters
  5. Keep scaling in mind
  6. Research your domain name by conducting a Whois search  
  7. If your name is available, register your domain quickly before anyone else does


Pick your e-commerce website builder package 

E-commerce platforms and website builders cater for different needs. Finding the right website builder package will depend on your business needs. 1-grid’s DIY Website Builder is easy to use, offers multiple layouts to choose from, has easy payment gateway integration, is mobile-friendly and the packages start from R219 a month. 

web builder packages


Design your store and load products 

With 1-grid’s e-commerce website builder, you don’t have to do the design heavy lifting. All you need to do is pick a layout that suits your brand and customize it to match your business. Here’s what you need to remember when adding products to your website: 

  1. Upload high-quality images in various angles 
  2. Add persuasive and detailed product descriptions 
  3. Set up a product hierarchy and grouping that makes sense 


Market your business online

Now that you have a fully functional live e-commerce store, it’s time to get some traffic to your website. When you’re starting, you should probably maximise your free advertising avenues. Here are some tips to maximise your marketing:

  1. Make the most of your social media platforms 
  2. Create compelling, shareable content 
  3. Create a company blog and post regularly 
  4. Work on your website SEO
  5. Encourage (or give incentive) customers to recommend and write testimonials 


Starting your online journey and setting up your website is the easy part. The difficult part is iterating, improving and finding new ways of doing things that are tailored to your business.