Are you interested in starting an e-commerce business from scratch? Do you want to be the next Jeff Bezos of Amazon? If YES, here are 50 trending e-commerce business ideas with high profit potential for 2017.
Okay, we have considered requirements for starting an e-commerce business and also went on to analyze an e-commerce business plan and an e-commerce marketing plan in detail. Now, we would be listing the hottest trending e-commerce business ideas you can start.
How Does an E-Commerce Business Work?
E-commerce refers to the buying and selling of goods and services, or the transmission of funds or data, over an electronic network, the internet. The transactions are usually business-to-business (B2B), business-to-consumer (B2C), consumer-to-consumer (C2C) or consumer-to-business (C2B). The terms e-commerce and e-business are used interchangeably, while the term e-tail is used sometimes in reference to transactional processes around online retail.
E-commerce is conducted through the use of a variety of applications such as fax, email, shopping carts and online catalogs. File transfer protocol, electronic data interchange, and web services. E-commerce is beneficial due to its availability round-the-clock, speed of access, international reach, accessibility, and wide selection of goods and services. The downsides are limited customer service, having to view the product but not being able to touch prior to purchase, and the long wait for the product to arrive.
Why Start an e-Commerce Business?
E-commerce has evolved over the years, especially now that mobile devices are becoming more popular with its own market. More than 40% of internet users – 1 billion – have purchased goods online. This figure will continue to rise as mobile and internet use expand globally. This changing market represents a vast opportunity for businesses to improve their relevance and expand their market in the online world.
Running an e-commerce business means you are most likely to work from home, while it is necessary to get an office facility, it isn’t compulsory. You however, would need to get a domain name and rent hosting for most of these businesses.
Starting an E-Commerce Business – Industry Overview
E-commerce makes use of regular technological maintenance so as to ensure the smooth functioning of online store sites, monetary transactions, as well as everything that has to do with the provision and delivery of products. There are several types of e-commerce, and the most prevalent being business to business, and consumer to consumer.
40% of internet users worldwide have bought products or goods online via desktop, tablet, mobile, or other online devices. This amounts to more than 1 billion online buyers, an amount that is projected to grow continuously. Various e-commerce platforms hold sway depending on the type of e-commerce market. For example, while Amazon is one of the leading e-commerce platforms within the business to consumer market, e-bay is more popular within the customer to customer e-commerce.
Another exciting trend in the e-commerce industry is the mobile commerce, and this is due to the popularity and widespread use of smart phones and the growing usage of tablets and phablets. In 2013, the revenue from mobile commerce in the United States amounted to more than $38 billion. This type of e-commerce includes mobile media and content, retail services, travel purchases and various other services.
Digital payments are also closely connected to e-commerce. Alternative payment methods such as digital wallets or online payment providers have seen increased adoption rates as well as a rapid growth in the past few years. PayPal which is owned by E-bay generates more than $14 billion on mobile payment volume alone. Digital payments are not only used by mobile shoppers but also by those who love to stream music, online videos subscriptions and apps. Global mobile app revenue for instance, is projected to surpass $30 billion.
The vast base of high speed internet users encourages businesses to innovate in order to offer an ever-evolving array of online services. Sectors that are rapidly growing online include the sale of entertainment products, event tickets, travel, and apparel and consumer electronics. Even groceries are also in the fast lane, as online grocery sales are growing in the United States, which is mostly due to an ever growing list of same-day delivery options.
With regards to the average spending per e-shoppers, North Americans are clearly in the lead. The consumers in North America spent an average of $2,674 online in 2014, as compared to $2,888 in America, $2,070 in Europe, and $1,472 in Asia-Pacific. In 2014, the online turnover of e-commerce in the United States grew by 11.7% and reached $482.7 billion, with China leading by 63.8% and having a turnover of $538.1 billion.
So, if you are looking to start an e-commerce business, then you may want to consider some of these business ideas that are being listed below. The businesses listed are in no way exhaustive, neither do they provide all the needed information, an entrepreneur would need to still carry out an in-depth research if they intend to go into any of these businesses.
50 Best E-Commerce Business ideas with High Profit in 2017
The automotive parts and accessories retail segment offers a huge market due to the huge number of automobiles that ply the roads. Any entrepreneur venturing into this business will have carved out a share of the marker that will guarantee huge sales for themselves online. This business idea is also full of niches and sub-categories for any e-commerce entrepreneur to find a significant amount of opportunity to thrive in.
All you would need is to find the niche that interests you and that which you have a knowledge or passion for; you could specialize in selling steering wheel covers, or in unique accessories for certain cars or models.
2. Consumer Electronics and Accessories Business
This is one of the most popular categories in the ecommerce business in general. According to a researched report, consumer electronics sales grew about 13 percent during the holiday season. The truth about this business though is that it is a mass market already dominated by the big competing businesses, such as Amazon and the rest, and it might be hard going head-to-head with such businesses.
However, the trick is in finding a unique niche by offering unique items that aren’t offered by the bigger retailers. You could go into selling used video games, GPS-enabled dog collars, or unique phone or tablet cases. The bottom line is if you think hard enough, you would always find a niche you would make money from.
According to estimates from experts, the total retail for jewelry sales in the United States has exceeded $70 billion, and even though large jewelry retailers have taken a large share of these sales, especially those in the wedding industry, there is still plenty of room for specialty online retailers.
As a new entrant in the jewelry e-commerce business, you could follow the theme of retailing hard-to-find or unique accessories which might include handmade jewelry from new and upcoming designers, vintage items found at auctions or private collections, or designs made from unique materials. You could also consider going into the niche of renting out your expensive jewelry for special occasions.
This includes clothes, belts, ties, gloves and even hats, and is regarded as a broad category with a large significant number of opportunities for new businesses. You can offer unique or rare products that are not readily available in most of the competing stores online.
Also, some apparel niches have few or weak competition. For example, you could go into business with team apparel suppliers, especially those that deal in uniforms for high school students, or t-shirts. This is just one of the niches out of a thousand of others you as an entrepreneur can go into.
To be a social media consultant you have to be found online, and have a proper online branding that permeates your own website and your social media properties, so as to get clients to trust you and your company. A social media is the eyes and ears of the client’s company online. This means that as a social media consultant, you advise your clients on developing online media campaigns. These campaigns usually involve the use of videos, blogs, forums, and other social media features.
Social media consultants also help companies manage their online presence on popular social networking sites such as Facebook, Google+, Twitter, and MySpace.
6. E-commerce Service Provider
This is one who handles all the back office, infrastructure and IT aspects of running an e-commerce business so that online store owners can focus on selling their products and growing their brand. As a service provider, you take care of everything from servers to warehouses, and provide a one-stop-shop for inventory and storefront management, marketing, order fulfillment and shipping.
Also, you could add web design to your services, so your client’s online store looks great on tablets and smart phones, as it does on PC. You would need to have a tremendous knowledge of IT and other related services to be able to into this kind of business.
7. Merchandising Platform
For new e-commerce start ups, it isn’t easy finding suppliers, because suppliers are usually wary of working with new online stores and prefer to work with large retail stores with whom they already have a longstanding relationship with and whose brand is easily recognizable over yours.
As an entrepreneur the merchandising platform is a cool business idea niche, you can help connect online retailers with suppliers and with large retailers that channel their products to smaller online stores. This service would make you a middle man between the supplier and the customer, and means you won’t have to deal with inventory.
8. Online Service Platform
If you have thoroughly researched the e-commerce industry, you would know that the industry is not limited to retailers or those with products, non-merchant can sell their services online too.
You could offer a platform that is specifically for small service-based businesses. The platform has to be one that provides streamlined back-office administrative tools that would easily manage your clients and their sales such as customer relationship management (CRM) integration, social media tools, as well as sales tracking. All you would need to do is charge your site users for using your service.
9. Online Customer Engagement Platform
The world of e-commerce depends heavily on customer service, and while some businesses might get away with offering a poor customer service, most cannot, as customers with the array of choices they have, will prefer businesses that listen to their complaints while also quickly attending to their inquiries.
An online customer engagement platform offers the use of video technology so that online retailers can engage with their customers, and answer their questions and concerns seamlessly.
10. DIY Online Store Builder Platform
As an entrepreneur, you can create a Do-It-Yourself (DIY) online store builder, so that merchants with no website development skills can use in creating an online store for themselves. However, you have to ensure that you have enough website designs that they could choose from, and that these websites are fully customizable with a secure shopping cart that can accept major credit cards such as MasterCard, VISA and American Express.
You could also ensure that you have the mobile version and even a point-of-sale (POS) system, so that your clients can sell anywhere, while you charge them monthly or annually for using your platform.
11. Crowdfunding sites
Crowdfunding sites use small amounts of capital from a large number of individuals to finance a new business idea or existing venture. Such sites usually make use of the easy accessibility offered by the vast networks of friends and families through social media websites like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn to attract investors and provide visibility for the new business.
As an entrepreneur looking to go into this business, you would have to be aware of the strict regulations guiding the business. For example, in the United States, there are regulations on who is allowed to fund a business on crowdfunding sites and how much they can contribute.
12. Online Escrow Payment Solutions
An escrow payment solution provides the service of holding an amount for another party that can only be released for a specified purpose. For example, two parties online are involved in a transaction that would require that the transaction be carried out to the first party’s satisfaction, before funds can be released; they then seek the services of an authorized third party who then holds onto the funds, till the transaction has been completed satisfactorily before the money can be released.
Before starting this business, you would need to find out the financial requirements and other regulations that might be required in the state you would be operating from.
As an online business consultant, you are to give your clients strategic services that will help make their brands compelling. You can do this by creating campaigns for your client, generating awareness as well as building a lifetime customer loyalty for your client.
You also get to strategize on content in such a way as to unify the brand messaging and tone, and also ensure that the audience gets engaged through relevant content on website, social media, emails, advertising as well as other brand materials.
Due to the increase in digital reading devices, eBooks have become popular, and has had many authors capitalizing on eBook sales. Publishing an eBook has more benefits when compared to traditional printed books, especially as publishing costs are at the barest minimum, and there are no shipping costs.
However, to succeed in this business you have to pick a niche that will make readers want to buy your book, it could be in areas such as self-helps, religion, fiction, or even poems.
Travel booking websites sell a range of travel products which include discounted flight and cruise tickets, and also travel packages. Most often, visitors will use your website to search discounted deals on hotels, accommodation and flight.
All bookings are then handled and forwarded to the corresponding travel partner, while your website which is regarded as an affiliate earns in the form of per-click and per-booking earnings. Your profit grows with traffic.
16. Online DIY Video Creator
Online tutorial platforms have made it easy for anyone to start making money from Do-It-Yourself (DIY) videos. As an entrepreneur, you can start a subscription model where users have to enroll to the videos in order to seek information.
All you have to do is make an informative video and post it to a sharing platform that offers subscription services. As users start enrolling to your videos, you start making money, whilst spreading knowledge.
17. Online Food Ordering Portal
Food home delivery is not new and has been around for a long time, however with ecommerce; you can tie your portal to a local restaurant and allow customers order for food online.
You can also create a common platform for most restaurants and customers. Customers search for restaurants, and place order in their chosen restaurants, and either pay for it online or opt for cash on delivery. The delivery is done by the restaurant with you getting a commission for each delivery.
18. Link Building to Content
The act of linking is usually performed unsolicited by individual publishers. It usually involves no risk, tricks or loopholes being exploited as links are contextually relevant. This means that the content must be of value for others to link to and be willing to share amongst others.
Money is made from this business when you convince web site owners on the need to create and promote content on a regular basis outside of their online product catalog. If the content is great, and links shared, it helps in bringing more traffic to the site.
19. Health and Beauty
According to studies in 2012, this sector is worth over $15 billion, and has shown no signs of slowing down, because more people are coming to care for their health and beauty either organically or otherwise. Nowadays, shopping online is second nature to most customers, however, it will do your business more good, if you not only focus on creating a website but also getting apps for your stores, as 85% of customers favour apps over mobile websites.
Having a store online is great since you can make use of advanced data analytics to see what your customers like buying, how often and even their location, so that you can focus on that area.
Network marketing is a business opportunity that is popular with people looking for flexible businesses. This kind of business is usually multilevel in nature with payouts occurring at more than one level. This kind of business also involves the recruitment of other sales representatives.
Even though this seems like a great business idea, you would need to thoroughly investigate the network business you intend going into, especially as most are pyramid schemes out to defraud undiscerning minds.
21. Online Currency Exchange
This is an online system that allows the exchange of one country’s currency for another. An entrepreneur that wants to go into this kind of business would need to n=be connected to a network of computers that connect banks, brokers and traders together.
This is most times not a stand-alone business as most entrepreneurs in this field offer the online currency converter service along with the option of actually converting the currencies for a nominal fee. This business is useful for clients that are always on the go, and would need a trusted online exchange they could go to.
In starting this business, you would need to build a website, by first buying a domain name, renting a hosting plan, and then uploading clear images of your products to your website. You would also need to source for your products by finding suppliers that can give you their products at a discount rate.
Another great option for you is in introducing drop shipping method on your site where you list products as available on your site, and then calling your supplier to supply to whoever places and order.
Before becoming a freelance web designer, you need to be skilled at designing websites plus be business savvy. However, you have to factor in the cost of starting this business, and you would need basic equipment such as a phone and a computer. You will also need to register your domain name and host your own website. Once this and others, especially the software you are going to be using – Adobe Dreamweaver, Espresso, Coda, or Aptana – is sorted out, and then you are ready to start.
Establish your brand and then create your own portfolio website to show off your expertise to potential clients, before figuring out how much you intend to charge.
Cloud computing is used by virtually everyone with a digital device, from individuals to private and public organizations. Businesses use cloud computing to access information anywhere using a compatible device, especially as cloud computing stores data on the internet.
Before starting this business, you have to carry out due diligence so as to determine the needs and fear of your potential customers.
25. Real Estate Portal
Online real estate websites act as a middle channel between buyer and seller and also help real estate developers and brokers by offering them a preferential space on their portal at a premium price. You can also advertise and provide information about projects to the buyer, whilst also gathering buyer information to share with the builder or broker.
Renting is one of the core areas of ecommerce in this current age. People now prefer to rent than to own an item. This is why the online renting sector has seen such a huge growth, with the potential of growing some more.
Building an online rental portal is so that people could connect with each other for renting different items. Prospective renters can choose their preferred item for a limited period of time. These way owners can make money with the items they rarely use, while the renter gets to use the item without having to buy a new one. The website gets commission on each transaction.
This kind of business is one that provides an online platform for customers who prefer custom tailored clothes by providing their measurement and style specifications. Your store should be able to allow your clients select fabric, design it the way they want, while you deliver the stitched cloth to their doorstep.
You can also add an advance search where your clients can search for prices, color, material and pattern amongst other options. You can earn revenue depending on the number of orders received.
28. Apps and Software Testing Services
Every software or app company knows that creating robust and scalable software is not enough for the success of their business, they know that it is essential that software and applications are bug-free, run smoothly and are secure, hence the need for testing services.
If you intend going into this business, you should know what is expected of a proficient testing service and research thoroughly on that. You could also decide to specialize in different niches such as lifecycle testing, industrialized testing, managed testing, test consulting, and specialized testing. You would also need to get the software that will enable you carry out your services.
Sports and recreation stores are regarded as specialty retail establishments that sell apparel, equipment, and supplies that are needed for various indoor and outdoor activities. However, you need to target a niche as this will enable you focus on a particular market instead of trying to compete with well-established nationwide chain stores.
Selling online means that you might not need a bank loan; you can open your e-commerce retail store, or you sell via an internet auction website. You would still need a storage facility to store your products, and can use your garage for this.
30. App Developer
App developers create, maintain, and implement the source code that makes up an application or program. They are also responsible for designing the prototype application, indicating program unit structure, and coordinate application plans with a client or development team.
Even though this business seems like one for only educated folks, however, if you have a good experience with programming languages and have a passion for developing apps web or mobile applications, then this is a good business idea from you. You can build on your portfolio by ensuring that your clients refer you.
31. Online Directory Service
This is a low investment business that can be started from home. The popularity and global reach of the internet, has led to this kind of business opportunity. Online business directories are more dynamic, more updated as well as interactive for users. However, you would need to make a decision on whether to cater to a specific industry or profession, or a generalized directory.
The most important part of an online directory is the database, you would have to constantly ensure that the database is continually updated and cleansed of any errors, while hiring an SEO expert to help popularize your website on the internet.
32. Search Engine Company
Starting a search company might look a little daunting especially as the market is dominated by Yahoo, Google, and Bing, but if you find the right niche you would have solved a problem for yourself. There is still room for innovative ideas such as search engine for travel sites, product sites, or any other specific niche.
You have to make sure you have built the search site for the right audience, and figure out a way to present it to the potential users.
Tutorial businesses can be targeted to students of ages and any subject matter. Starting an online tutorial business will need you to research on subjects, prepare training materials as well as write lesson plans. However, you have to pick a niche for the tutorial business, either by picking a subject or sticking to certain age groups, and then obtain certification.
Legalize your business and visit the Internal Revenue Service website for your Employer Identification Number, prepare your business documents, before creating tutorial and training videos and posting online. Ensure to create audio and transcribe lecture notes for students who learn better by listening.
34. Subscription Sites
Most subscription sites usually involve some form of free content email list or content site, funneling people into a paid continuity program. The idea is to educate your prospects and then have them eager to sign up for your paid service after being blown away by the free information you initially gave them.
This however means that you have to constantly create fresh content, as a membership site is a living entity that needs to be constantly fed.
35. Online Employment Portal
This is a niche business. An online employment portal acts as the middleman for job seekers in desperate need of jobs, and companies who are looking for prospective employees to fill the vacancies in their offices. In essence, your site is a platform connecting two ends.
In order to have an edge over your competitors, you would need to provide advanced tools like analytics which can prove to be useful for job seekers.
36. Service Reseller
In this internet age, staying relevant and profitable means having various channels of sale. Every product and service provider is looking for partners to help them boost their sales. Service reseller has a huge growth potential especially for people who rely heavily on customer services but do not have the products.
As a service reseller, you sell the product or service of your partner at a higher price and keep the margin. For example, partnering with a web designing company to sell their services, while retaining some profit as intermediary.
37. Freelance Writer
Content is the core aggregator that binds information sharing. Academic writings such as research paper writing, and essay writing will never go out of context. The dynamics of the current market requires professional writers to churn out engaging contents. You can build a platform to connect to prospective clients, or to connect other freelance writers to prospective clients
The online consignment store was popularized by bid sites such as eBay. Setting up your own online consignment store affords you more control over policies, fees, and profits. In starting this type of business, you have to identify the type of merchandise you are interested in selling and have knowledge about.
Create a website by purchasing a domain name and selecting a company that will provide hosting services. You will also need to hire a programmer that will incorporate a shopping cart into your website.
39. Betting Website
This might look like a risky business for some but it is hugely rewarding. However, even though it is easy to create a betting website, you have to be sure that it is legal to do so in the country where you are residing, by making sure that the domain name and host server is located in a country where online betting is legal. The domain name is key in this business; do not choose a domain name that will get you into trouble.
If you decide to monetize the site, ensure that the money is deposited into an account that is registered to a financial agency in the same country. Make money with your site by contacting the Casino Affiliate Program of your choice and embedding the program on your site.
40. Domain Brokerage Services
A domain broker is one who helps in selling domain names by finding a buyer, negotiating with the buyer, and facilitating the deal on behalf of the domain owner. This means the domain broker does not just find a buyer at any asking price, but comes to an agreement with the seller to sell their domain at fair market value, which can be sometimes more, or less.
A professional domain broker spends many hours on the telephone, drafting emails, contacting end-users and resellers, answers questions, and negotiates prices.
41. Web Copywriter
A web copywriter writes sales copy for the internet. This can include services such as direct pitch sales, content writing amongst other things. The copywriters do not just create sales through their words, but also have to use their words to ensure that traffic is increased to the websites of their clients.
Those who are interested in this business must either have experience writing offline ad copy, or just be a strong writer with a gift of words that can be translated into traffic generation, and an increment in customer interest. Apart from writing skills, you would also need to know about internet marketing.
42. Translation Services
Due to the fact that companies are going global and are willing to expand their market as well as engage with customers on different boundaries on a deeper level, consumers worldwide want everything on their own terms and that includes a preference for communicating in their own language. This is why translation services are such a hot business idea.
Entrepreneurs going into this field can decide to go into a specialized niche such as video interpretation to help clients who are deaf. The only criteria needed apart from being adept with technology, is in being proficient in one or two foreign languages and seeking a niche there.
43. Software Company
Starting this kind of business requires programming knowledge, marketing expertise, technical support skills, and start-up funds. A software company is responsible for developing and distributing computer software that may be used to learn, instruct, assess, calculate, entertain or perform a multitude of other tasks.
Software companies usually operate under a variety of business models, which includes charging of license fees, charging by transactions, or the offering of subscriptions. If you decide to go into this business, you need to know which business model will likely favour your new start-up.
44. Multi-Vendor Sites
Having a multi-vendor site means allowing companies or people to create an online store and then post their products for sale. Any vendor can create an ecommerce store on your site to start selling, while giving you a share of commission for each item sold.
All you need is to get a fully functional ecommerce store design is a domain and hosting, you will also need some money for digital marketing to raise awareness about your site to vendors.
One of the key areas in the ecommerce sector is the online car booking market. It is now easy to find out all the information about a car online. With advanced tools, users can even compare as well as book new and used cars online.
It works basically on a multi-channel level where new cars are sold in business to customer model, while used cars are sold in peer-to-peer model. All that would be required from you as an entrepreneur is that you provide an intuitive platform in form of your website with an immersive design.
The internet has made it easy for any form of information to be accessed easily, added to the fact that there has been a huge influx of devices across the globe. Online book stores have become very lucrative.
This is a niche market, as users prefer to get books online rather than go to a physical store. Also many book stores also allow users to read a preview of the book so as to get accustomed to its contents.
47. Daily Deal Portal
This s a site that helps people across the globe to discover and purchase the best local deals available. This creates a dual purpose of creating a market place that helps customers in landing the best deals, while also helping merchants get more and more orders.
Starting this business requires that you partner with local merchants to provide them with a certain number of customers. You then post the deals on your website and send daily deal emails to prospective customers. The deal is usually valid for a certain period.
There are literally millions of blogs already in existence, all on every topic you can think of, which is why before venturing into this business; you need to ask yourself why someone would want to read your blog instead of that of your competitors; especially as your readers are going to be made up of people you don’t know, which is why picking the topic you want to blog on is very important.
Apart from your topic, every blogger knows that content is key. Your posts should be useful, readable and mostly original. You can blog from your PC, smart phone or tablet. You will also have to create a domain name and either rent a hosting or host your blog on free hosts like blogger or wordpress.
This is a multi-billion dollar industry and if you decide to go into this field, apart from being knowledgeable about wedding industry and trends, you have to be aggressive and ready if you intend to carve out a niche for yourself in this market. Get your business plan ready; secure your domain name and rental hosting.
Also ensure that you have inventory, as you might have to decide if your site will complement a brick and mortar building or if it will be a standalone business. If it will be purely online, then you would need links to those with inventory, so you could direct customers there and get your fees for doing so.
50. Affiliate Marketing
Affiliate marketing gives the entrepreneur the opportunity of earning a commission by selling products and services that are offered by other companies. It is always best to start with niches that you are totally familiar with, so that your website can tally with the niche you are going into, and also for when companies you intend to affiliate with want to hook up with you.
Carry out a thorough research into this field and decide on the companies you would like to become an affiliate for before joining the program, and becoming an affiliate marketer. Ensure that you avoid illegal topics and black hats SEOs.
In conclusion, while having a good business e-commerce idea is vital, it is necessary that you also have the basic understanding of e-commerce laws, especially if you are going to be selling internationally, or across state lines, as you might sometimes face different legal and financial consideration in regard to privacy, copyright, security, and taxation. You also need to be aware of copyright infringement liability and a service provider’s responsibilities.