How Do I Choose the Best E-Commerce Business Ideas?

Kristie Lorette

When you are considering e-commerce business ideas, you should consider factors such as products, hobbies or services that interest you; the costs of building and running the business; the demand for the product or products you are planning on selling; and how much competition, if any, that you have in the market. Some of the best e-commerce business ideas stem from your own passions, hobbies and interests. For example, if you make handmade greeting cards, then you may launch an Internet business that sells your creations. If you have a passion for small business marketing services, then you may start an e-commerce business that sells different marketing packages.

Some e-commerce businesses may require shopping cart software.
Some e-commerce businesses may require shopping cart software.

A second major consideration for starting and running the business is calculating the cost of the e-commerce business ideas. Some e-commerce business ideas require very little or no up-front costs. Other types of businesses may require you to come up with more money upfront. These are the costs that are in addition to the standard costs of starting an e-commerce business, such as building a website, paying for business website hosting and establishing a shopping cart system on the website for placing and processing orders.

Some of the best e-commerce business ideas stem from people’s own passions, hobbies and interests.
Some of the best e-commerce business ideas stem from people’s own passions, hobbies and interests.

For example, if your e-commerce business ideas relate to membership sites, then the shopping cart software is more complicated than that for purchasing products. Primarily, this is because the software needs to be able to charge the monthly or ongoing membership fee on an ongoing basis. If you are selling services, then there are no costs for purchasing materials, but if you are selling products then you need to consider the costs of materials in addition to the cost of building and getting the e-commerce site up and running.

Homemade products are popular sellers online.
Homemade products are popular sellers online.

Another important aspect of evaluating e-commerce business ideas is the demand in the market. It is better to create a product or service offering where there are waiting customers ready, willing and able to buy the product than to constantly be struggling to find a market for your product. Conduct some market research to see if there are the same or similar products or services on the market and how well the products or services are selling to make sure that there is a demand for the product.

Finally, the best e-commerce business ideas have little or no competition. If there is a lot of competition, then the ideal situation is that your product or service that you are selling online is somehow different or better than that of the competition.

Artists often try to sell their work on the Internet.
Artists often try to sell their work on the Internet.

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Discussion Comments


@Mor - It is nice that there are websites out there where artists can set up shop without having to develop their own site. But I find that most of them have fairly bad search engine presence, which can be difficult to overcome. If an artist, or any other business person, is really serious about selling a product, they need to establish a brand, which means marking out a presence on the internet, starting with a proper domain name and website.


@Iluviaporos - There's a similar issue for artists, although it seems like there is more leeway for different business types there. I have definitely seen artists bite off more than they could chew, in trying to be a distributor and promoter and so forth, as well as providing the art when they aren't suited to that kind of work.

I've also seen artists who weren't ambitious enough fail to get as many customers as they could.

At the lower level, you can just upload your images to several different print-on-demand sites, like Redbubble or Society6 and not have to worry about much beyond making art.

On another level you can try launching your own website and controlling every aspect of your work. Either way have disadvantages and advantages and you really have to work out what kind of business you want to run.


If you are planning on launching a small business, make sure that you aren't trying to reinvent the wheel. For example, I still see people deciding to begin publishing e-books by opening their own little storefront and soliciting authors as well as using their own work.

This isn't a great idea, because the market is already seriously saturated with cheap e-books, and authors can self publish them very easily through Amazon or Smashwords or elsewhere, so there's not much a tiny, independent publisher can offer unless they have special connections. It's very, very difficult to be a good publisher, especially if you have no experience with the industry.

But that's no reason why you can't work in some other way online with self publishing. Offering covers if you are an artist, or editing if you have experience there, or even just self publishing your own works.

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