With online sales headed for $1 Trillion by 2025 and Amazon spreading fast in remote parts of the world like Australia, the ecommerce industry is seen as “hot cakes” by analysts. The Internet and its global reach has given more people the opportunity to own their own businesses than ever before. We recently spoke about mega trends that can be a good opportunity for new business owners. Ecommerce is becoming a popular and rewarding way for people to become their own boss and to take control of their own future.
Developing an ecommerce certainly has a huge set of challenges and needs a substantial investment in time, effort and money. Starting it and taking it to the point where it will be profitable will need planned movements and strategies that you will have put into place after your copious research. You will also have to make sure that you have the muscle to hang in there even when the going gets tough.
Where to start with the building of an ecommerce store?
There is no one single factor that will make an ecommerce store successful; it is a combination of many. The planning phase has to take all the variants into consideration, without you losing sight of the goal, which is obviously to make lots of sales. You can work with smart marketing agencies or learn PPC and SEO skills. Often re-inventing the wheel takes too much time, so think about a shortcut to distinction! For example, the BOTSTORE on SnatchBot, is a place where we enabled people to buy ready-made chatbots so they can save time on the deployment of leading technology.
There are other formalities: Every country has different laws concerning ecommerce but some of the basics that you are likely to have to take care of are your legal and tax status, a business license or permit and Employer ID number (even if you won’t be employing someone) for opening a bank account.
The planning phase of your ecommerce store
Research the business structure
An online store may not have a physical address but will need to supply physical products. How will you find these products and where will you store them? Having a storeroom full of goods may not be ideal because of the money needed to purchase and store the goods, combined with the risk that they may not sell as well as expected.
Dropshipping has become popular, the manufacturer or supplier ships the goods directly to the customer without it ever coming to your. Ecommerce market places, Oberlo for example, allow you to import items into your store and ship them when an order is placed. They do everything through the automated processing and you have more time to concentrate on other areas of your ecommerce store.
Some manufacturers also offer white labeling where ecommerce stores choose products to sell with their own brand labels.
Other ideas for ecommerce stores are based on subscriptions where the store delivers certain essential products regularly to customers.
How to find a product to sell?
This is one area in your business where less will definitely lead to more. There is no way that a new ecommerce site filled with goods from many categories can stay focused on the goal of driving sales. Finding the right product is quite tricky and the products that sell best are those that are not easy to find on most big ecommerce sites.
Browse through the stores of the ecommerce giants and see what they are selling and what their top-selling products are. Ideas are not that difficult to find, but research does help. Keep tabs on what is trending on social shopping sites like Etsy, Pinterest, and Instagram and keep notes of everything that you observe. There are millions of products online. Coworkers, family, friends, may have some thoughts on potential products so strike up discussions and see what they are most interested in. Once you have decided on a product, do further research and see if there is a better product in the same category.
Know your competition and their sales approach
Once you have chosen your products you need to know what your competition is up to. You will want to know if they are investing heavily in marketing their product and where they are advertising. This knowledge will prepare you for the amount of effort and money that you will need to get your sales going and will also help to give you a better understanding of how an online business needs to be successfully managed in order to drive sales.
Write a detailed business plan
Writing a business plan is equivalent to having your GPS on when you are driving into an unknown area. With your thoughts and ideas in one place, you will be able to stay on track with the priorities that you have set.
How to set up your ecommerce store?
This stage is easier than the first one because it entails a lot of the fun things that are associated with starting your own enterprise. Aim to make fast decisions because these steps are the ones which launch your ecommerce store. Take action quickly and effectively. Make sure you understand ecommerce conversion rates.
Give your business a name and logo
Giving your business a name is as important and challenging as finding the right product for your ecommerce store. Once you have chosen the name for your business, and brand if you have opted for a white labeling business, choose a domain name that is available and appropriate.
Your logo should be simple and applicable to the product that you have chosen to sell. If you can’t design and have no one to help you go online in search of a designer.
The importance of SEO
At this point, you are one step before setting up your online store but before you do you must read up on and understand what SEO is. Search engine optimization or SEO is important for search engines to find your pages and site.
How to build your ecommerce store?
One of the easiest ways to build up your store is with ecommerce CMS tools like WOOCOMMERCE, BigCommerce, Wix, Shopify and many more. These platforms are easy to use, have plenty of templates to choose from, and you won’t need any developmental support.
You should be the first person to make a purchase from your store to ensure that there are no snags. At this stage make the purchasing experience quick for your customers by reducing any unnecessary steps and only collect the information required for their check out.
Now that your store has been launched you need to plough straight into the marketing of your business in order to generate traffic. Initially, the investment will be hefty and if you don’t have much money then you will have to put in an outstanding effort. The options here vary so you need familiarize yourself with some digital marketing tricks so that you can decide which will be best for you. If you find that you are not coping with the marketing you may need to get some help. Usually a combination of strategies is the best way to drive traffic and you will need to monitor them to see which campaigns are paying off.
Choose the right channel to market your product and aim to reach the point where you spend less than you earn. In the beginning, you will have to pump the majority of your profits towards your marketing and remember to keep an eye on the ROI of the campaign. Instagram, Facebook, Adwords, and Spotify are some examples of channels that if used correctly offer fast results.
How to optimize your ecommerce marketing?
Now that you have started to make sales you will need to optimize your marketing to keep your customers coming back – at a greatly reduced cost compared to looking for new ones – and those good reviews coming in.
Marekting and Operational Automation:
At SnatchBot, I see daily how small businesses deploy marketing automation such as chatbots to handle their business and reduce the need for costly staff or outsourcing. They do this in order to use clever chatbots to answer to Facebook, Skype and Email inquiries from clients – known as “omnichannel”. (See Avi Benezra on Facebook chatbots)
Customer service is critical
Customers who don’t get a response to a query are most likely to not continue to check-out. Make sure that your content is easy to follow, provide a FAQ page, entice customers to leave reviews and introduce live chat that is operated by a clever AI-chatbot or equivalent. These are all measures that are used to build customer trust which then creates customer loyalty.
Get back the customers who deserted
If you notice that visitors to your website are leaving without completing transactions, think of ways to recapture them. Be inventive and play with ideas like creating one time discounts to returning customers, limited time offers, etc. Retarget those who abandoned with an email campaign or remind them of their abandoned cart.
Make the shopping experience fast
Word of mouth is not only about good experiences, and shoppers who have had a bad experience do express this to their friends, they also do so through reviews and forums. Make your website fast, easy to navigate, and make the store search easy by displaying related items together. Your product pages on your website must be perfect. Your mobile store must be equally good.
Entice your customers with new products
Since most shopping fads do wane with time, constantly be on the lookout for new products that you can add to your ecommerce store. Make your customers aware of the arrival of your exciting new products.
Prepare to reap the rewards
As you go through the challenge of building your ecommerce store you will surely experience some exciting moments where everything is flowing smoothly. These will sometimes be canceled by the moments where you may feel you are wading upstream. Enjoy every step of this exciting time and keep yourself focused on your initial plan as you face up to each exciting moment.