A full guide on how to start an eCommerce business in Egypt in 2023
For a few years, the idea of creating an online store needed a lot of time, great efforts, and big capital as well, and most of those who thought about creating an online store, thought of it as a dream beyond reach.
Today, with the incredible revolution in the world of e-commerce, and the brilliant technological solutions that followed, the idea of creating an online store became much more easier and simpler than many can imagine.
I assure you that in this guide you will find everything you need and more to create a professional online store, fulfil your dream of entering the world of e-commerce, and even start making thousands of dollars a month from online selling.
What is an online store?
Notice: this part of the article is very important and I advise you to read it till the end and not jump straight to the next points; a deep understanding of what you need to deal with is the first step to success.
An online store, also known as e-commerce website, is simply an online platform or website where you can sell tangible or intangible products, it is also through which services can be sold.
The online store provides a full automation system (which makes the selling process automated without the shopkeeper’s intervention) and that is through providing access to:
- Displaying the products and their specifications to the client (through photos, texts, or even videos showing all the product’s specifications and prices).
- Online payment.
- Connecting with shipping companies that will deliver the products to the consumer.
For sure the online store provides so many other features for the client, such as tracking the delivery process of the products, communicating with customer service, and providing information on store policies such as recovery, replacement, and multiple payment methods..etc
It should be noted that the idea of e-commerce is not entirely independent from that of traditional commerce in reality, but it is a combination of the idea of traditional sales with technological solutions that can be provided through the internet.
Instead of going to the store on the ground, the customer views pictures of the products and access their specifications, and instead of paying in cash the customer can use their credit card to pay through their bank account.
Finally, instead of instantly receiving the product after payment, intermediate shipping companies deliver the product to the customer.
What is the difference between a website and an online store?
A website is broader and is a more comprehensive concept than an online store; an online store is a type of website, it comes under the general concept of websites.
In a nutshell, the online store is basically a website specialized in presenting and selling products, the term “online store” can be released on any website that has a dedicated interface or design to display products and information on each product.
Now that you have a great knowledge about the idea of online stores, let’s move on to the next point.
Steps to creating a professional online store:
Determine your product
There are mostly two cases behind creating an online store:
First case: Expanding the scope and sales of a store already on the ground, and that is in order to benefit from the opportunities and profitability offered by e-commerce.
Example: Let’s say you are a manufacturer of children’s toys, and you already have sales outlets on the ground, and you have a wholesalers on the market that buy through you, but you want to expand your trade to every possible customer, here creating an online store is the perfect solution to fulfil your need.
Second Case: Creating an online store as a new independent project, and that’s what we will be discussing here.
To start your online store as a new independent project, it is necessary to identify the product or products which you will be selling.
And here you have one of two directions to get your product:
First direction: The unique innovative product, which requires a brand new idea based on the needs of the target audience, which can be an innovative tool, for example, to facilitate life or to solve a problem.
This trend requires an innovative and creative person, and the risks are very high, but the rate of profitability is very high as well, because you will be out of competitions for quite a while.
Second direction: This includes all kinds of products on the market, such as clothing, electrical appliances, cosmetics, ect…
We will go on with our subject based on the second direction.
Here are some points that will help you identify the product for your online store:
- Brainstorming ideas, in which you can get more product ideas through your own special needs.
- Poll friends and family.
- Make use of other people’s experiences, by following other online stores and knowing what products they sell.
- Surf the internet around the most important products sold online.
- Follow up with Facebook sales groups and find the best-selling products on these groups.
- Go to global markets such as Amazon and ebay and look for the best-selling products there, and do it with the most important and famous stores in your country.
With regard to the products, it has to be mentioned that there are two types of online stores:
Large, multi-product online stores:
This is a type where the online store sells a lot of different products, which fall under multiple classifications, where you will find phones, electronic devices, accessories, office and home processing products, children’s products, and more all in the same store.
For example: Amazon global store, and Jumia store that spread to Arab countries.
Online stores specified in one type of product
This is a type where the online store is specialized in selling one product or one type of product, such as stores specialised in the sale of newborn clothing, or stores that specialise only in the sale of smartphones, etc…
Notice: between those two levels, there are a lot of other levels; for example, there are electronic stores that specialise in a particular sector of products, and there are electronic stores that specialise in two sectors of products among them, ect…
Verify the ability to sell this product:
After identifying the idea of the product, let’s assume here that you have decided to start an online clothing store.
Now you have to put this idea into test to check whether it is useful first, then second to present it to the market in a unique and more competitive way.
Here are some points that will help you verify the ability to sell your product:
- Use Keyword search tools such as Google Keyword Planner to know the rate of search for products and then predict the volume of demand.
Just enter the name of the product which you would like to sell in your store and the tool shows you the monthly search rate for this product, then you can understand the demand rate of this product.
However, here a very important point must be mentioned: High demand also means higher competition ( i.e. there are already online stores selling the same product as it has high demands).
- Do a further study of competitors and gather as much information as possible about them.
Here you also need to do an online search for competing stores, which target the same market you intend to target.
Examining the strengths and weaknesses of competing stores is very important, and for sure it is preferable to actually make a purchase through them, that way you can verify everything based on real experience.
This will offer you an idea about your level of competitiveness, and therefore the ability to sell the product and the ability to represent your store in a unique and more competitive way.
- Your marketing plan plays an important role
Marketing for your store is one of the very important factors and strongly contributes to the ability to sell the product; for example, by having a strong marketing plan and a good marketing budget, you can compete even with global markets.
Later in this article, we will be putting together a special segment to talk about marketing for your online store, but for now follow up to the next point.
Determine where you get the product you are selling:
Let’s assume that in the previous step you chose kids’ clothing as the product you will be selling on your online store.
In this step, you have to identify the source from which you will get the kids’ clothes.
Here, you have three choices to choose from:
Product production in your own factory
This is considered to be the hardest and riskiest choice, as it needs more time and effort, therefore this option is the least likely for the majority.
Of course you do not need to produce a car or a smartphone to have your own product, but with the simplest things you can make your own products, for instance, there are a lot of online shops that rely on handcrafted products and make excellent profits from them.
Using Drop Shipping
Drop shipping is a type of business where you, as an online store owner, market the products, put them in your own store, set their prices, and sell them to the consumer under your store name, but the products are for a third party (supermarket or wholesaler).
As soon as the customer has purchased the product, it is ordered from the main store and delivered to the customer.
Here, storage and delivery are entirely done through the main store, and your online store is just a tool.. It is important to note that Drop Shopping is the easiest and least risky option of all.
Notice: In this case, the profit is the difference between the price you offer in the store and the real price of the product in the main store.
Purchase from wholesalers or factories
This is considered to be the most basic or traditional option, as it is the most popular option in the world of online stores, where you, as an online store owner, purchase directly from wholesalers or factories, and store it in your own stores to prepare for orders through your online store.
Of course, in this case, by forcing the growth in the size of your sales, you can order special designs from stores, or request modifications to existing designs.
Identify the payment method in your online store (payment gateway)
This is a very important and vital step for your online store, and it is related to the way you will choose for creating your own store (the methods of creating an online store will be taken up shortly).
First off, let’s explain what is meant by payment gateway:
Payment gateways are companies specified in offering internet payment services, these services manage the payment in your online store completely for commission.
By creating an account and linking it to your store, these companies receive money from consumers, and transfer it to your payment gate account, through which you can receive your money on your bank account.
Here we recommend creating a commercial bank account and linking it to the payment gateway, and so you need to consult with a commercial lawyer to know exactly the procedures for opening a commercial account for your online store.
There are lots and lots of pay gates, and these are the most important and appropriate ones for Egyptian & Arab online stores:
- Paypal: Needless to say, it is one of the oldest and most popular online payment solutions, as it is originally an electronic bank for everyone, but it provides a payment portal for every online shopkeeper by creating a business account.
- Paymob: Paymob runs millions of transactions for different business sizes across the Middle East and Africa.
- Fawry Pay: FawryPay is an easy e-commerce solution that connects sellers with buyers offering different payment options.
Determine how to deliver the product to the costumer:
Just like most of the steps here, too, we provide you with many options to choose from, which may be related to the previous ones as well.
For example, in the case of creating a drop shipping online store, as a shopkeeper, you do not need a way for shipping in the first place, because the charge is originally on the main store as mentioned before.
However, using one of the specialised shipping companies and contacting them to deliver the products of the online stores to customers is the most common and applied choice in most online stores regarding the shipment step.
Of course there is a lot of these companies, and these are the most important services available in Egypt & the Arab region:
Notice: when choosing a shipping company, ask about the payment-on-receipt feature, which is provided by some shipping companies and is such a great feature from which the shipping company collects the value of the product from the customer on your behalf.
It is worth mentioning that a lot of Arabs are still unfamiliar with online buying and online paying, that’s why the payment solution on receipt is a great one, as it’s going to help you make better sales.
Choose one way for creating your online store:
In this step, you have to determine how you want your online store created, and yes, there are various ways for creating an online store, from which you need to choose one and start applying.
Given the importance of this step and the many details in it, it will be addressed in the next part of the essay.
But first off, let me explain some points that will help you choose the most suitable way:
- Not all ways fit everyone, so make a choice based on your own situation.
- Financial investment is essential in e-commerce, so put into your consideration there are no choices free of charge.
- The internet world is very flexible, which gives you the ability to switch from one way to another at any time.
Picking an agency to build your online store, never been easier than these days, where a unique design, properties, and exceptional features can be built for your online store, for a considerable pricing.
Important tips for the success of your online store:
The Arab Market represents a fertile ground for the success of your online store
Despite the fact that the options are slightly limited for an Arab online store owner, however, there are so many amazing features that represent an opportunity to succeed.
One of the features is the ongoing growth in internet purchase in the Arab region, and weak competition.
Actually, nowadays living with the CoronaVirus, everyone prefers shopping without direct contact with the seller, and from here the Arab market is now witnessing a massive growth that has never happened before.
That’s why starting right now is the best option for you, I strongly encourage you to create your online store as soon as possible, and save a seat in this world full of opportunities and growth.
With the presence of specialized Arab platforms, such as Expandcart, creating an online store became accessible to everyone!
Flexibility and thinking outside the box are two very important elements
You must be flexible in your choices and not follow the typical way of thinking, think outside the box in everything, for example, regarding specialty, there are a lot of sectors that still need specialized stores, you need to discover these sectors in your country and study the possibility of specialization in them.
Additionally, you don’t always have to think about an online store as a store for selling tangible products, but you can also create an online store to sell digital products like books or software.
The legal code is essential and you have to work on achieving it
Before creating your online store, you need to refer back to a specialist lawyer and consult him in legal procedures for the establishment of an online store company.
You need to refer back to a specialist lawyer regarding the legality of the products you will be selling in your store, you also need to avoid using other people’s property rights.
Here are some of the most important features that you can get when fulfilling the legal formal aspect of your store:
- The ability of contracting with a shipping company or paygate in a legal way (some shipping and payment companies only deal with legally licensed stores).
- The ability of operating, paying, and receiving funds through a commercial bank account with any other business entity.
- Working in a legal way to protect your store and your customers as well.
- Avoiding any future legal accountability.
Storing (How many products I will need to get started)
Stock management is one of the most important points regarding creating an online store, what do I need from every product? And how do I manage the stock at the beginning of my work so that it does not accumulate, and at the same time always find products ready for shipment when ordered?
First off, you need to understand that this point does not have a perfect scenario, risk is always there and you can never completely avoid it.
However, there are a set of criteria that be relied on to manage the stock in the best way possible, such as:
- Firstly, you need to have a source of products you can easily reach, like a nearby wholesaler.
- You have to agree with the dealers to retrieve the unsold products.
- At first, keep at least three products of every kind that’s ready for shipment.
- Always make data your stock management guide, for example, calculate how many products have been sold over the last month, and add 20% in case of an increase in demand.
- You need to understand that the higher the price of the product, the less products you will have to keep in your stock.
- The validity of the product and perishability or fracture are two very important elements in the determination of the stock.
Pricing (How do I set a price for my products):
Your pricing system is one of the most important factors for the success of your online store, and so you have to do it right and not randomly or driven by reaching the highest profit.
Here are some important points that will benefit you in making a tight pricing strategy:
- Follow the pricing system based on percentages, for example, adding a percentage as the cost of the product, not a certain amount of money.
- The higher the price of the product, the lower the profit; because a product with high price will make the percentage mean a big increase over the consumer.
- Always keep an eye on competitors’ prices and try not to exceed them as much as possible.
- Set minimum purchases when providing free shipping privilege, this would avoid a loss in the sale of cheap products, the price of which may be close to the price of the shipment.
- Follow the percentage discount when providing special offers or discounts, for example, if you have a product from which you profit 25%, then you can easily apply a 15% discount to make a 10% profit.
Online marketing is an essential element for the success of e-commerce
With this article, I hope I was able to put in a clear guide for creating a professional online store, and for it to benefit so many ambitious young people who have their eyes set for the future.
Through this article, I invite every young man and girl who has an idea for an online store to start implementing them as soon as possible to turn the dream into reality.
Last but not least, I would like to remind you that starting with ideas is the most important step of all. Yes, you will face obstacles, but you can overcome every obstacle as long as you take the first step.
Finally, if you were actually interested in the idea of selling through the internet, and looking for an easy, free way to test your ideas, then you should try Facebook Marketplace.