If you come up with an idea for a new e-commerce business, you can easily have a website up and running in a matter of days. In the grand scheme of things, having an e-commerce business requires a lot less money than a brick-and-mortar store; therefore, being more cost-effective than traditional businesses (if executed properly). You do, though, need to research, come up with a well-constructed business plan and secure your finances before diving in head first. Although launching an e-commerce business seems more straightforward, it takes the same amount of dedication and perseverance. Once your business plan is completed, here’s how you can begin launching your new business adventure.
Explore Your Product/Service
Decide your demographic and who would benefit from your product or services. If you have a unique product/service, you may have to persuade people to purchase what you’re offering a little harder than a well-known and already established product. However, make sure your business differs from your competition, otherwise your customers continue to use their usual sellers.
Check Out The Competition
Competition is not always a bad thing. If there are existing companies making sales and placing adverts, that provides strong evidence of a solid customer base. The key is knowing exactly what is out there, what price point it is selling for and checking whether you can achieve your desired margins if you match or undercut your competitors. Ideally, you want to be able to carve out your own space by choosing a market that has a range of price options and quality levels so that you can find your own niche.
Get The Word Out
The popularity of e-commerce stores is forcing major retailers to rethink their business plans. For example, Walmart is trying to remodel their business plans to focus more on online sales which now represent nearly nine percent of all sales.
However, no matter how amazing your product is, the World Wide Web is too big and too complicated to rely on anyone simply stumbling across your store. You need to ensure you implement digital marketing, such as paid advertisement, marketing influencers, web design and SEO. Paying for such marketing may seem costly, but it is essential to the success of your business.
You can use a specialist keyword planner to find the right words and phrases to add to your advertising campaign so that every dollar you spend achieves the maximum return on your investment. You can also use keyword tools to get an idea of the level of traffic you might be able to attract which can be of enormous help when it comes to planning your budget and stock.
If you’re selling physical products, make sure you have sufficient stock in place. In these days of instant gratification, next day delivery is an absolute minimum standard, and if you fail to provide this because you are waiting for your stock to be replenished, you risk losing customers or, worse still, inspiring competition. As a rule of thumb, it’s always better to have too much stock than not enough. All your costs will be significantly higher if your product is available in a range of sizes and colors, so as far as possible, try to keep things simple by starting off with a one-size-fits-all approach until you have enough sales traction to be able to expand your range.
You should also consider a drop ship business model in which you take the orders, but the packaging and shipping are carried out by a third company. This can work well in the case of larger items that may be difficult or impractical for you to store by yourself.
After you’ve made sure that your website and payment system work smoothly with a variety of operating systems and all the popular browsers, get hold of a few smartphones and tablets to try out the mobile version. The majority of growth in the e-commerce world is coming from the mobile sector with smartphones now more popular than laptops or other larger devices for making online purchases. Rather than expecting consumers to simply connect to your main site with their smartphones, you should ensure they are directed towards a site that is optimized for smaller screens that use touch as the main interface. Although creating such a site involves additional expense, you will achieve far greater customer satisfaction as a result.
Don’t Be a Perfectionist
If you wait until your website perfectly reflects the vision in your head before you go live, you may never get your business off the ground. One of the huge advantages of an online store compared to its brick-and-mortar cousin is that you can make major changes and updates without having disrupted your sales.
Whether it’s the result of customer feedback, expansion in your product range or a shift in your target audience or business strategy, you’re likely to be making changes to your site on a regular basis. You’ll also want to refresh the look of your site to ensure it matches current trends. By far the best strategy is to launch as quickly as possible and fix any issues as and when they emerge. Rather than viewing your website as something that can be finished, see it as a work in progress and therefore subject to regular review.
Have a Money-Making Strategy From the Start
Many of today’s top social media companies launched with little or no idea of how they were going to monetize themselves. Although some have gone on to become multi-billion-dollar companies, there are hundreds of others that simply burned through their venture capital and never figured out how to generate income, let alone a profit.
Maintain clear financial goals at every stage. Nail down the cost per unit and factor in extras such as postage, payment processing fees and hosting. You’ll also need to put aside money for advertising and marketing. When you’re starting out, you’re unlikely to have sufficient leverage to be able to negotiate for better terms from suppliers or processors, but be prepared to do so as soon as your sales volumes start to grow as the money you save can be put to better use elsewhere in your business.