While it might be easier to start your own eCommerce business than ever before, there’s no guarantee that you’ll find success in what is undoubtedly a fiercely competitive line of work.
Running a profitable and sustainable eCommerce store demands a great deal from you, and you’ll need an immensely diverse skillset, a willingness to learn and evolve, and maybe a bit of plain old luck.
If you’re hoping to launch your own eCommerce business any time soon, then it’s worth keeping your reliance on luck to a minimum and instead focusing on the fundamentals of success.
Whether you’re brand-new to the world of online trading or you need to give your existing business a lift, you’ll probably find some handy tips in this guide, so it’s worth taking a look at.
Develop a Reliable Business Plan
It’s incredibly tempting to get started as soon as you have your first product idea, but this will likely leave you unprepared.
Coming up with a solid business plan you can rely on should be your top priority, even if you’ve not got much experience in this area yet.
You can spend all day toiling over the quality of your product pages, but if the framework of your business and the direction in which you want to take it isn’t sorted out, it won’t amount to much.
A basic business plan should include:
- A description of your business, including its unique selling point
- An assessment of your projected position in the market and who your competitors are
- How you’re going to market your store
- Your budget
- Your timeline for reaching milestones (first 100 products sold, first $1,000 made, etc.)
A reliable business model can carry you through some tough times and help you make informed decisions, so it’s worth spending a while on this part of the process.
The Customer Comes First
It’s an obvious one, but one that tends to get forgotten about nonetheless: the customer always comes first.
Every eCommerce business idea needs customers to thrive, and even exist in the first place, so don’t forget about their needs.
From the get-go, it’s important to remember that eCommerce is a public-facing service, even if that’s in the purely virtual sense. There’s still a real person on the other end of the checkout and you need to look after them.
This means making sure that the customer experience is seamless from start to finish. The best eCommerce websites are tailored specifically for accessibility, functionality, and aesthetic excellence.
You’ll also need to work on your customer service, as there will probably be times when your sale doesn’t go to plan, your products aren’t what the customer expected or your customer is angry about their delivery. Customers looking for a quick online shop simply expect everything to go as smoothly as possible, which is why it’s important to always think about the customer’s point of view.
Learning how to manage this properly and turn negatives into positives can take your brand to the next level.
Choose the Right Carriers
While many of the big carriers (UPS and FedEx, for example) are incredibly reliable, packages do go missing, so it’s vital you’re able to prepare for this by putting a contingency plan in place.
Choosing the right carriers in the first place is important, but there’s not a great deal you can do when considering much of this aspect of the business is out of your hands. Eventually, you could think about hiring your own carriers to get the job done.
When some people elect to start an eCommerce business, they neglect to think about how important the supply chain management side of affairs is.
Spending some time on this element of your eCommerce business can put you a step above the rest, and it must be done to keep the cash flowing and the customers happy.
eCommerce is more than just establishing an online store; there are plenty of logistics and practicalities to concern yourself with too.
A Strong eCommerce Marketing Strategy is Essential
Your products, no matter how beautiful or desirable they might be, need to be discovered. This is where digital marketing comes into play.
eCommerce marketing can be a complex and multi-faceted affair, comprising of many different disciplines and techniques.
Focusing on your SEO efforts is a must, as your products need to rank higher than your competitors’ offerings (in an ideal world). It can be tough to manage eCommerce marketing by yourself, especially if you’re trying to run an online business simultaneously.
If you feel like you need an extra hand with your eCommerce marketing, reaching out to a full service agency is always a good idea.
It’s important to leverage social media too, as this can be a superb way to promote products and drive online traffic in your direction.
Other essentials include:
Content marketing is extremely valuable in raising visibility for your online store. You can do this by writing relevant blog posts on your site, making social media posts, writing white papers, and plenty of other awareness-raising endeavors.
Email marketing is a great way to chase down leads and build brand familiarity within your customers’ minds.
Finding your right audience is essential when raising your campaign’s effectiveness. You need to know who you’re marketing to if you hope to create a campaign that yields meaningful results.
Building Customer Loyalty
Customer loyalty can bolster your business to no end. Loyalty translates to repeat business and an increase in organic marketing (like word-of-mouth marketing, for example).
By focusing on the needs of your target audience, you can start to listen to the needs of your customers.
Do your customers love a certain product? Let them know when it’s available! What don’t they like about your site? Ask them; otherwise, you’ll never know.
A loyal customer is a happy customer, and by putting yourself in their shoes, you’ll be able to understand what it’s like to work with your company.
Whenever you want to start a business of any kind, whether it’s to sell online or stick to a brick-and-mortar approach, customers are at the heart of the operation.
Ryan Flannagan is the Founder & CEO of Nuanced Media, an international eCommerce marketing agency specializing in Amazon. Nuanced has sold $100s of Millions online and Ryan has built a client base representing a total revenue of over 1.5 billion dollars. Ryan is a published author and has been quoted by a number of media sources such as BuzzFeed, CNBC, and Modern Retail.