Ultimate Guide to Launching an E-Commerce Business
Becoming an entrepreneur can be both challenging and rewarding, depending on how much you prepare. E-commerce businesses are thriving right now, thanks to the continually growing demand of consumers for fast, convenient shopping experiences.
Unfortunately, because e-commerce is such a big market, there is a lot of competition. So, before you open your digital storefront, you need to make sure that you know what to expect. That’s why we want to provide you with valuable insight and tips on launching an e-commerce business.
Living in the modern age means that more and more of our lives exist on the internet. Because of this, online shopping is quickly becoming the standard means of buying and selling products. As an entrepreneur, e-commerce is an exciting field to get into, provided that you do it the right way.
So many new online stores go under within the first year – mainly because they weren’t prepared. So, to help you make sure that your e-commerce business succeeds, we’ve outlined a five-step plan. Let’s begin.
Step One: Find a Product or Niche
With other industries, you can let your passion fuel your desire to start a business. However, in the world of online shopping, the products are king. While you can implement some of your personal styles into the items you sell, you need to make sure that there is a demand for it. Here are a few ways to ensure that you’ve got a winning e-commerce product strategy.
More than anything else, finding the right product to sell is the critical foundation for your company. If you don’t choose the best option here, you will be setting yourself up for failure. But how can you make sure that your product is good? Here are a few guidelines to follow.
Keep it Simple
One of the best ways to succeed in this industry is to focus on as few products as possible (at least initially). This way, you don’t have to manage too much inventory, and you can develop a sharper marketing strategy.
While it may be tempting to sell a variety of items, the fact is that you’ll be competing with some heavy hitters, including Amazon, Wal-Mart, and other online retailers. Instead, it’s better to narrow your focus to just a handful of products. In some cases, it’s ideal to have only one thing to sell to your customers.
At first, a single-product store may seem counterintuitive, but there are a few benefits. First, you can focus your branding and marketing materials much easier. Second, you don’t have to worry about refining your product selection later on. Finally, you can have custom options to help add variety to your item to make it more exciting.
Do Your Research
Thankfully, Google trends can make the process of finding a top-selling product a snap. Simply look up the item and see whether it’s trending up or down. If it’s going south, you’ll probably want to avoid it. Even if it’s relatively stagnant, some products are always in demand, so keep that in mind as well.
Another thing to do when researching is to look up keywords related to the item. If you’re planning on selling organic soap, for example, see what comes up when you search for that product. Doing this will give you an idea of what your competition is doing and what customers will expect from your brand.
Look at Trends
Fortunately, Google makes it easy to see how well certain products are selling. What you also want to pay attention to is the longevity of any one item. You don’t want to be selling fidget spinners at the tail end of the craze.
Know Your Product
You want to sell something that you know and understand fully. Otherwise, if a customer has a question about it, how can you provide a suitable answer? If you want to sell something that you’re not familiar with already, now is the time to buy a model for yourself and start using it. Knowing your products will also help with your marketing since you’ll know which features to focus on the most.
Check Out the Competition
There’s no way that you can be selling something completely unique, so you have to see what your competitors are doing. This way, you can verify that there’s enough demand for you to fit in.
Find a Supplier
Finally, you need to make sure that you can fulfill orders reliably and consistently. If necessary, contact the manufacturer directly to ensure that the quality remains constant.
Step Two: Source Your Product
There are two ways that you can run your e-commerce business. First, you can buy inventory yourself and ship each item to the customer directly. Second, you can utilize dropshipping, which is where a manufacturer fulfills the order instead.
Buying inventory is useful if you want more control over product quality and customer service. This option may also be necessary if you make your product from scratch (i.e., food). However, having and maintaining inventory is more expensive, so if you’re looking to start a business without a lot of capital, dropshipping is likely the best option.
In either case, you will want to trace your supply chain to make sure that it’s stable and reliable. What happens if your business takes off and you get hundreds of orders? Will your supplier be able to handle the extra demand? This is another reason why sticking to one or two products is a good idea, at least initially.
Step Three: Find Your Audience
A product itself is worthless without someone willing to buy it. Although you can see how items are trending overall, you need to get specific with your audience and demographic. Here are a few ways to do this effectively.
Be Specific when figuring out who to target with your product, you want to avoid general demographics. For example, rather than appealing to women under 40, you’ll try to appeal to single mothers between 20 and 30 with one child.
Research Your Audience
what values do your potential customers have? What will appeal to those values? For example, some people may prefer convenience over price, while others are just the opposite.
Validate Your Research
Once you’ve found a demographic, reach out to a few individuals to gauge interest in your product. This tactic will ensure that you move forward with a winning item before going full steam ahead.
Step Four: Build (and Optimize) Your Website
There’s a reason that the first two steps are based on research. Although it’s relatively easy these days to build a new site, the cost for doing so is still fairly high. So, you don’t want to waste time and energy creating something that won’t appeal to shoppers. Here’s how you can make sure that your e-commerce site is ready for business.
Even if competition for your specific item isn’t fierce, you are still competing against every other online retailer, at least regarding how your site looks and operates. Here are some guidelines to help you make the most of it.
Make each page easy to scan while ensuring that customers will focus on the right elements. For example, if your audience prefers convenience, highlight the features that will solve that particular problem.
Use High-Quality Images
If you can’t find any of the products already, hire a photographer, or use professional editing software to make your pictures pop. If you use bland or low-resolution photos, your products will seem less desirable.
Streamline Your Checkout Process
One of the easiest ways to lose customers is to make it complicated to buy your products. Try to eliminate as many steps as possible to ensure smooth checkouts and better convenience.
Using your keywords from before, be sure to include them in everything from URL names to image tags to title tags. This will help your pages rank better in searches.
During your research, you should create a list of top keywords. Incorporate these words into your site pages so that search engines will rank your store higher.
Make it Mobile Friendly
More and more shoppers use mobile devices for browsing and purchasing. If you’re not optimized for small screens, you’ll lose business fast. Be sure to make your site mobile-ready before going live.
Create Effective Sales Funnel
An effective sales funnel drives sales and revenues from your website. The good thing about it is that you do not need to spend lots of money to set up one. There is a way to simplify it with WooCommerce read more here.
Step Five: Start Selling (and Promoting)
Once your site is pitch-perfect, you can open your digital doors for business. Simultaneously, you should promote yourself on various channels, including social media or paid ads (like Google AdWords). This way, you can drive traffic to your pages and start raking in dollars. Here are a few ways to capitalize on your visitors beyond sales.
Capture Contact Info
Email addresses are an excellent way to follow up with customers and promote new sales.
Offer Rewards or Subscriptions
If your product(s) warrant repeat buying, encourage new shoppers to start a subscription. You can also offer rewards for those who come back over and over.
Start a Referral Program
Recommendations are the cornerstone of any business, so inspire your shoppers to refer friends and family. The right deal can boost your brand faster than most other options.
Step Six: Analyze and Adapt
Selling products is not a “set it and forget it” kind of business. If you want to continue your brand’s momentum, you need to adapt to changing habits and markets. Once you start getting sales data, you should pay attention to any trends so that you can capitalize on them as much as possible.
Overall, you should focus on products or add-ons that sell and drop anything that doesn’t. Everything on your site should add to your bottom line. If not, then figure out how to change that or get rid of it altogether.
Related article: 7 Most Important Factors in Building an eCommerce Site