E-commerce sales are increasing at a much faster rate than traditional, offline retail sales. In 2016 alone, ecommerce sales grew by 24.6 percent compared to 2015 and made up 8.7 percent of the total retail market worldwide.
It’s not surprising that so many young entrepreneurs are interested in learning more about the potential for establishing a successful eCommerce enterprise. The startup costs can be substantially lower than a brick-and-mortar storefront location, and the appeal of being your own boss is undeniable.
If you’ve been wondering if the e-commerce industry could change your life for the better, take these tips to improve your odds of launching a successful new venture.
#1 Determine your niche
The first step in launching a successful e-commerce business is figuring out what your niche is; this will help you determine what products you want to sell and where your area of specialization, expertise, or passion lies.
If you aren’t interested in what you’re selling or connected to the audience you’re trying to appeal to, you’re probably not going to last too long.
Figuring out who you’re marketing to is going to drive all your branding efforts—everything from your business name and logo to the suppliers of the products you want to sell.
#2 Find suppliers for products you plan to sell
Having a great idea isn’t enough to get your business off the ground; you’re going to need to find vendors to sell you the products or materials you’ll need to create your inventory.
In a perfect world, you’ll find a specialty vendor who does not sell on Amazon or a similar platform, helping you avoid unnecessary competition.
The four most common methods of acquiring products and inventory are to make, manufacture, wholesale, or dropship, and each has its own unique challenges, advantages, and disadvantages.
#3 Implement a great website design
It just makes sense that if you plan to run your business effectively online, you absolutely must have a well-designed and efficient website.
There are so many elements to implementing excellent website design, but in the initial phases of development, you should focus your energy on testing your interface and optimizing its performance (both for web and for mobile) as much as possible.
Also make sure to include social elements on your website, since you want customers to interact with your brand and provide critical feedback to help you shape your business in these early learning days.
#4 Provide stellar customer service
When it comes to online shopping, some of the statistics on customer service are pretty intimidating.
For example, 45 percent of US consumers would abandon an online transaction if their questions or concerns were not addressed quickly, and up to 75 percent of online customers expect help within 5 minutes.
This means your website needs to be intuitive and well-designed, but it also needs to include access to real-time help to drive conversion.
The best websites are those that focus on the user experience and streamline their website to guide consumers in the direction sellers want them to go.
#5 Drive traffic to your website
This is where the real creativity comes in since you’re going to be looking for new and creative ways to drive traffic to your website and improve the return on investment of your advertising campaign for… well, as long as your business continues to thrive, so hopefully a very long time.
To drive traffic to your page, be sure to include high-quality product images and video content that appeals to your audience. Learn the basics of SEO and how to generate value-driven content for your customer base.
Develop a unique selling proposition and take the time to refresh and revamp your inventory to retain your repeat customers. All these things will help drive new traffic to your site and encourage satisfied customers to spread the good news about your business with their friends.
#6 Build brand ambassadors
Speaking of repeat customers—they’re the bread and butter of any good business. You can pat yourself on the back and tell everyone how wonderful you are as much as you’d like, but it doesn’t mean anything to those potential customers with whom you do not have a relationship.
That’s why you want the customers you already have to give glowing reviews and testify to the credibility of your business, product, and service. If you reward loyal customers with a brand ambassador program, you may be surprised how much work they’re willing to do on social media to help you build your brand.
Are you interested in e-commerce?
If you have an entrepreneurial spirit and a taste for innovation, an e-commerce venture could be just what you’ve been looking for in terms of flexibility, freedom, and financial security. The industry is growing at breakneck speed, making it possible for just about anyone to take a stab at launching their own business.