For budding entrepreneurs, the e-commerce industry is the perfect opportunity since it requires significantly less investment than a more traditional kind of business and since a savvy new entrepreneur can really turn their store into a success.
The only bad side is that there are literally millions of eCommerce websites out there and that there is definitely no lack of competition. That is why we have collected this series of tips to help young entrepreneurs be as successful as possible with their new eCommerce endeavor.
Consider the Platforms
When you decide to start selling something online, you have to make a choice of how you will get your eCommerce website.
The first option is to have a web design agency do an entire website for you, with bells and whistles and everything. This is a more expensive option and you will have to deal with hosting, but it also ensures that your eCommerce will be unique and that you will get everything you wanted to feature on it.
The second option and one that is extremely popular among less ambitious eCommerce entrepreneurs are to go for one of the major eCommerce platforms where you can choose between hosting options, templates, features and so on and get an eCommerce website at a much cheaper price. Your website will not be designed from scratch, but one look at Shopify's eCommerce solutions should be enough to explain the allure of these platforms.
Learn about Infrastructure
For an entrepreneur who is impatient to get their hands in the eCommerce game, there are always things that get overlooked and, more times than not, they do not get their facts straight on the infrastructure part of the whole experience.
By infrastructure, we mean, among other things, the shipping options. Do you know how much it would cost to ship one of your products to another country? How about another continent? Are you using the regular post or courier services? Do you plan on offering free shipping and do you know how much this is going to cost you? Do you know how customs officers get rough with packages in certain countries? Do you know you cannot ship certain products to certain countries?
You should also learn about packaging and how it can influence your sales. Another thing to learn about is return policies and how you will protect yourself from fraudulent orders. You will also need to determine how you will be providing customer service – will you be doing this exclusively via email or will you have a phone number? Will it be a 24/7 customer service? Will you do some customer service on social media?
All of these are things that you don't think about when first considering starting an eCommerce business, but they soon turn out to be very important.
The good news is that there are plenty of websites where you can get a whole lot of information and advice on how to handle all of these things. This is especially true for websites of eCommerce platforms which also often feature support people who will gladly help you with this.
Do Your Marketing
Like we already mentioned, the competition is stiff in the world of eCommerce and you need to find ways to set yourself apart from the competition. The most obvious and effective way to do so is through marketing.
The good news is that the majority of marketing for eCommerce is done online which means that the costs are relatively low and that all you need is time and the will to learn and apply what you have learned.
The first step in marketing your eCommerce store will be making it marketable. What does this mean? This means not settling for the most boring eCommerce theme that you can imagine. This means starting a blog where you will provide your visitors with content free of charge. This means using as many product images as possible in product descriptions. This means enabling your customers to leave comments and thus provide you with third-party content and also endorsements.
The next step will be making sure that people find you and this is where a combination of paid ads and some good old-fashioned content marketing will have to come in play. There are those people who say that you should only go paid or only content marketing, but in the real world, a combined approach will always work best.
Of course, you will also want to give social media a go and use various social media channels to spread the word about your store, your products, and your deals. Once you start doing social media, keep in mind that you always need to use pictures and/or videos because these get more likes and shares. Moreover, you need to make sure you are not being too spammy, only trying to sell your stuff. Being on social media is a great way to get to know your customers and provide them with what they want.
A well-run eCommerce store can be a fantastic enterprise. The important thing is to understand the challenges and find ways to overcome them before they turn into huge problems.
Also published on Medium.