E-commerce is one of the fastest growing fields of online business. The US Department of Commerce announced in a recently published report that the e-Commerce sales in 2016 totalled about $394.9 billion, which is a 15.1% increase in comparison with 2015. If about 320 million people living in the USA managed to spend so much money online, it’s clear that e-Commerce has a huge potential on a global scale. But startups are going through a phase where fundings are drying up and most of the early stage startups, especially in e-commerce space, are running out of breath.
Top business leaders advice that thriving on the startup funding is the biggest mistake most of the startup entrepreneurs do. Therefore, it’s important to work on a parallel strategies to have an organic growth in parallel to aggressive strategies that burn your funded cash much faster.
This is why we’ve prepared a thorough guide for aspiring and budding startup entrepreneurs who are considering jumping on the e-Commerce bandwagon.
Choosing the right niche
When you get into a brick-and-mortar store, you probably like to meet a knowledgeable salesperson. You expect that they’ll give you more information about the product you’re interested in. So, when you’re choosing the right e-Commerce niche, always bear in mind that you want to be as educated and resourceful as that imaginary seller.
According to Ecomdash, the most lucrative eCommerce niches in 2017 are baby products, cosmetic products, craft supplies, food and apparel. If you aren’t too fond of any of these fields, start learning immediately and prepare for your new career.
Performing initial testing
Even if you choose a high-demand niche, you need to be aware that it’s only the beginning. Since enhanced online popularity and social media are two major prerequisites for a successful e-store, do some testing in these surroundings. WordStream’s Larry Kim suggests investing a few hundred dollars in Facebook Ads and Google AdWords, to check how people react to the products you want to sell. With these tests users should be redirected to landing pages that will inform them of the items in question.
After that, just follow their behaviour and reactions and you’ll soon draw conclusions about their opinions. Consider collecting emails and reaching out to these people. Honest feedback even from 10-20 people can work wonders.
Also, at this stage it’s crucial to create landing pages that will properly promote your potential niche and products. You can learn more about it in a post brought to you by Forbes.
Calculating profit margins
Simultaneously with the previous actions, it’s imperative for e-Commerce startup owners to calculate the potential profit margins before they order the first bulk of their products. For instance, if you opt for more expensive products, say $500 and more, shoppers might require direct communication via Skype or a telephone line and detailed information. This might be an inconvenience for a rookie e-salesperson.
What’s more, selling expensive products requires some special skills. While you can learn them along the way, it would be wiser to leave such endeavours to later stages of your e-Commerce career.
Conversely, selling cheap products won’t get you anywhere, since shipping costs will eat your profits.
So, the bottom line is that you should carefully calculate your profit margin. Sticking with products ranging from $50 to $500, can be a good starting point.
Scoring the right name
Your business name will send your potential shoppers a direct message. Since you have no time for losing, it needs to be short, witty and concise. What’s more, keep in mind that a business name and a domain name can create an effective marketing unit. For instance, websites combining the .me domain and a creative business name can climb the SEO ladder faster than bleak business names with poor domain names.
In the USA, you can check if a business name is available on the website of the US Patent and Trademark Office. Ask around to find a similar register in your country.
Devising proper social media strategy
If your e-Commerce business doesn’t engage social media users, it will soon become a has-been.
- Facebook and e-Commerce
Launch a Facebook business page. This shop window of your e-store should be used to promote special offers and discounts, as well as new lines of products.
Moreover, post a link that will lead to your main website. This Facebook page website axis will help your business generate more potential customers.
- Twitter and customer engagement
Twitter can serve a great marketing purpose if used properly. Instead of just making tweets and comments, you should become an active member of the Twitter community. In line with that, search this network with hashtags important for your niche. Contact influencers and establish business relationships with them. Such connections can drive an extra traffic to your e-Commerce website.
Improving website functionality
All links you leave behind lead to your e-Commerce website. It’s the essence of your business, which is why it deserves special care. The most important feature for your customers will be an omnipresent shopping cart. Not only that every page needs to contain the cart, but it also needs to be placed in a visible position throughout the website.
Also, the cart should be stripped of any distracting elements. It needs to be simple but functional, just like these examples, provided by Hongkiat.
Beside a smooth cart, your e-Commerce website needs to be useful for both small shoppers and VIP-clients in equal measure. By that we mean that you should offer several payment options, as well as rely on cutting-edge invoicing software. These services will speed up the ordering and payment procedures, resulting in higher revenues and conversion rates.
Targeting mobile users
Mobile users already spend more time on their smartphones than on their desktop computers. Moreover, the analysis conducted by Business Insider predicts that mobile commerce will reach $284 billion only in the USA by 2020. Knowing these stats, it’s imperative to develop a strategy that will target smartphone users and convert them into your customers. The crucial step in accomplishing that goal is adapting your e-Commerce website to mobiles. You can either make it responsive or build a special app for these gadgets. For instance, if you decide to use Shopify as the platform for your e-store, you can rely on some handy apps to make that website as functional as possible for all your users, especially the mobile ones.
Running your own e-store is a demanding tasks that brings a lot of challenges. Just like any other private business, it requires a great deal of hard work and sacrifice if you want to turn it into a successful business. The good news is that you can learn a lot from various online sources and extend your knowledge of this niche. We hope that this article will be useful for your eCommerce enterprise.
Now it’s your turn
Tell us about your experiences with e-Commerce and share your ideas with our readers in the comments below. We would love to hear from you!