And you’re right, these aspects are crucial to success. You must offer excellent customer service and you need an attractive and reliable website if you want people to buy your products. But remember, it’s the sum of these elements working together that makes an e-commerce business successful.
These factors are what will lead your online store to reach its full potential, but to succeed, you must first master the basics of this form of business.
We see this on a daily basis with novice entrepreneurs who are still learning to run their e-commerce businesses and lose sight of the most important aspects of success, and spend a lot of time creating the perfect online store, to close it soon after.
Your store’s fuel is sales, and that’s what your business plan should focus on. In this sense, you must make efforts through digital marketing to attract traffic to your store, and thus achieve sales, which in turn will generate more traffic. Also, before you think about providing quality customer service or determining your brand’s unique style, you must sell. Without sales you are finished.
How to Start an Ecommerce Business
You may have many great ideas when starting a new Ecommerce business, but we suggest you set aside your ambitions and concentrate first on the most practical phases of your business plan. To begin with, what you really need is a simple online medium to sell your products. For example, a basic template for a store, from a recognized platform like Shopify works great for this.
We did a tutorial on how to launch a store in 30 minutes (with products). You probably want to take more than 30 minutes, but be careful how much time you invest in this in the beginning. Let’s remember the wise words of Reid Hoffman, co-founder of LinkedIn, who said: “If you’re not ashamed of the first version of your product, it took you too long to launch it.
This maxim also applies to e-commerce. The key is to launch your online store quickly and start thinking of ways to generate sales through online marketing, which will allow you to improve other things along the way. For now, first things first.
Find the products
If you are just beginning to explore the world of e-commerce, surely the first thing you will be wondering is what products you should sell in your store. In fact, getting stuck in this dilemma is one of the main reasons many people don’t make the leap to start their own e-commerce business.
In effect, choosing what to sell in your online store is not as simple as buying as much as you like, publishing them on your website and sitting back and watching the inventory sell.
In this sense, you must establish a strategy to identify a set of products or a niche market that is in vogue and that is not as easy to find in stores or on popular Ecommerce websites such as Amazon.
So, taking the generic route and opting to sell books or jewelry will probably lead your store to failure, because there are already stores covering those demands. Instead, look for more specific items that appeal to a particular audience.
We suggest you start by making a list of potential products that you would like to sell in your store. Think of things that you, your friends, co-workers, and family would be interested in buying, but don’t limit yourself exclusively to these items.
Explore social networking publications like Pinterest or Instagram and stores like Etsy, where you’re sure to find more sources of inspiration to decide what to sell in your own store. You can also check if your product ideas are on the right track by doing a Google Trends search. For more information on what to sell, we invite you to read this step-by-step guide here.
Surely you are also wondering where you should buy your products and this is where droshipping can be a viable alternative for your online store’s business plan. Dropshipping has gained great popularity among entrepreneurs because it considerably reduces the initial investment and poses a lower risk than other traditional e-commerce business models, in which you must have your own inventory.
Dropshipping works like this: you find the products you would like to sell in a marketplace, such as Oberlo, and then import those items into your store. When a customer buys any of these products, you place the order with a supplier, who will send the item directly to the buyer.
This way, you’ll never have to manage merchandise and you’ll be able to test products to keep up with current trends more easily. Additionally, applications like Oberlo automate the process a lot, so you have more time to concentrate on those factors that will help your store grow, such as developing a solid digital marketing strategy for your Ecommerce.
Digital Marketing for Ecommerce: earn more than you spend every day
Beginning entrepreneurs seldom invest much capital in their Ecommerce business from the start, hoping to get a return on their investment within six months to a year.
Once you’ve set up a simple store, concentrate as much as possible on marketing it by implementing digital marketing strategies. Everything else can wait until you have confirmed that your store is generating traffic and reaching potential customers.
The secret of Ecommerce marketing is to find the right channel for your products, and then refine your marketing strategy so that attracting new customers costs you less than the profits their purchases generate. Your goal should be to achieve that infinite cycle in which your expenses are less than your daily income. Likewise, be sure to reinvest your income in more ads; it’s not yet time to keep the profits.
Instead, closely examine the relationship between the revenue you’ve produced and the money you’ve invested in digital marketing by reviewing your return on investment (ROI) figures at least twice a week, although it would be much better if you did that on a daily basis.
Sell products that have a large profit margin to consistently cover your marketing expenses, as these online marketing efforts can cost a lot of money, so be sure to estimate an appropriate price for your products.
Don’t think that investing $100 will bring you word-of-mouth referrals or recurring customers; an investment of this amount should generate at least $101 in sales, which you should reinvest in advertising.
It’s only when you’ve reached this point that you can begin to optimize your store design, invest in building a strong brand and think of ways to generate more revenue. You can’t optimize a store if you don’t have customers with whom to test the different features you want to implement first. Therefore, Ecommerce marketing is vital, as it will distinguish you from your competitors and help you generate sales.
However, a good business plan for your online store requires some investment. Set aside a portion of your budget to implement the digital advertising tactics that should help you generate the sales you need. Unless you have a loose budget, avoid long-term strategies such as SEO or email marketing for now.
Prioritize your time and money by exploring all options. With direct advertising through Facebook or Adwords you will be able to obtain more sales immediately. Besides learning how to launch your first Ecommerce campaign on Facebook, you should also know how to optimize it.
It is also advisable to read the other’s approach to marketing on Instagram or the latest advertising trends on Snapchat. With this knowledge and inspiration, you will be able to apply new strategies to your online store.
When it’s time to evaluate the performance of your digital marketing efforts, test your ad campaigns instead of your product pages, as you’ll avoid complications by trying to analyze and modify every little detail of your store. Just focus on the ads and marketing, not the “buy” button on the product page.
While many of these tips for starting an Ecommerce business look easier on paper than they actually are, it helps a lot to have a clearer picture of the first steps, including setting up a simple store and dedicating your efforts to digital marketing. With this clear, we can begin to explore the more specific aspects.
How to achieve success in e-commerce: What to do next?
Once you’ve validated the idea for your store and ensured a steady flow of sales, you can start optimizing the digital marketing of your business on the fly. Here are some e-commerce business tips you should consider when designing your business plan.
Customer Service / Self-Help Content
If shoppers don’t get quick answers to their questions or concerns during an online transaction, they may choose to leave your store. That’s why exceptional customer service is crucial to the long-term success of your business.
In this regard, create self-service content and a detailed FAQ page, offer live chat support, encourage product reviews, and build trust with your customers. All of this will give your store valuable social proof and create recurring customers, who cost five times less to retain than to acquire new customers.
On average, between 55% and 80% of visitors to your website will leave your store without having purchased. So how much would your revenue increase if you captured those sales instead of losing them? To achieve this goal, you must optimize your customer’s experience in your store, create limited time offers, launch an abandoned cart recovery email campaign, or even a remarketing campaign.
Optimize the store
At least 44% of online shoppers will tell their friends about a bad online store experience. For this reason, once the foundations of your online store have been cemented, the next important step is to optimize your website.
To do this you must improve the speed of your website, create an intuitive navigation bar, design an attractive product page, show related products, optimize the search within the store and verify the appearance of your store on mobile devices.
The best-selling products tend to run out quickly, hence the importance of inventory. Constantly look for new product ideas that help drive traffic to your store continuously, do not rely on just a few products to boost your sales. Instead, offer new products to your existing customers and test new product ideas frequently, taking into account Google Trends trends.
I know people who have succeeded in focusing their attention on a single market niche or offering excellent quality customer service. However, up to 50% of Shopify stores do not make a single sale. Although it seems that the number of Ecommerce businesses that manage to take off is very low, compared to the overall business success rates (10%), it is a promising starting point.