In the last few years, the business of eCommerce has boomed globally. It’s hard to find a brand that hasn’t grown out of an initial eCommerce store. Companies that were once unknown have now transformed themselves into selling out in both eCommerce and retail stores.
Of course, that’s very difficult to do. Thousands of entrepreneurs think they have a genius product to sell; but do they have what it takes to run a successful eCommerce business?
Fortunately, we’re living in a time where creativity and originality are not just encouraged, but praised. The real issue lies in understanding how to market your product, find your consumer audience, and turn a profit.
In other words, your product will not sell itself — you have to do your homework.
If you’re looking to start an eCommerce business, there are a few key things you should know.
- Know Your Product(s)
While this may seem obvious, a lot of new small businesses make the mistake of not understanding the details of their products. Even if you’ve designed the most brilliant product, your brand won’t get anywhere if you don’t do your research behind it.
First, if you’re selling a product that’s already widely available, it’s important to know your competing sellers, and analyze how they sell their version of the product. However, if you’ve created an entirely new product, or you’re entering an unsaturated category, you have the creative freedom to develop your idea in the way you see fit.
While this can certainly be beneficial, it’s also challenging because you have to ensure that your new product is going to be popular enough to stick around for years to come. In the world of eCommerce, products come and go so quickly, it’s hard to keep up, so the trick is to create a product that will steadily increase in popularity over time.
- Understand Your Audience
Now that you have a product that you understand, it’s time to tell the world about it.
First, define who your consumer base is, and what their needs are. For some, this step is the most difficult because new business owners may focus too much on their product and/or brand, rather than understanding their consumers and why they should even want to purchase their product.
Luckily, there are apps and websites that can help. Using Facebook Pixel or Google Analytics, for example, allow you to gather data about your website visitors, run marketing strategies and create custom and lookalike audiences, thus helping you identify your main consumer audience.
From there, you can differentiate organic traffic vs. paid traffic.
Organic traffic is the flow of visitors who arrive to your website as a result of unpaid sources or search results. From social media videos to infographics to blog posts, organic traffic plays a vital role — approximately 60%, according to LinkedIn — in the success of your eCommerce business.
Paid traffic is exactly what it sounds like — the flow of visitors you land on your page solely as a result of paid ads. If a user clicks or taps on an ad placed on the top of a search engine results page, that contributes to the company’s paid traffic.
Neither form should be neglected when starting your eCommerce business. Merging traffic sources will help you reach the largest volume of your target audience. Asking questions like, “What are my company’s core goals? What is my timeline? What is my budget?” can also aid in the process of establishing paid and organized traffic tactics.
- Expect Competition, and Find Gaps Among Them
Regardless of how rare or mainstream your product is, you should also take time to research your competitors. Even if there aren’t many current competing sellers, you should still expect competition as your business begins to grow and become more established.
The goal of this step is to identify ways that you can stand out as a brand and differentiate your products from everyone else’s. Researching into competing sellers can also help you understand your product from different perspectives, and teach you how to market your brand to have a bigger impact.
This is where a passion for your product comes in handy. If you know and love what you’re selling, you can easily and quickly learn if there are competitors who have failed to observe key areas that you consider essential to the function of your product.
Whether that’s different features, aesthetics, or even price, making little adjustments to your product where other sellers are falling short could help it stand out from the crowd.
- Establish Quick and Efficient Shipping Methods
If there’s one thing people love, it’s fast shipping. Even before you start generating sales on your eCommerce store, it’s wise to adopt a reliable shipping method.
You should also be prepared to get feedback on your shipping methods. For many customers, the shipping and handling method can make or break their purchase. Especially amidst today’s shipping industry, people expect things immediately and have very little patience when that doesn’t happen.
Today’s consumers have been spoiled — there’s no doubt about that. Ever since the invention of Amazon’s Prime two-day delivery, any shipping method longer than that seems like a millennium. Learning how to streamline your eCommerce store’s shipping methods before you accumulate sales is another crucial element to your success.
While there are dozens of other questions, concerns, and components that make up the process of starting a new eCommerce company, the few listed above can help pave the path to success. Once implemented, you’ll start to save yourself from many future headaches.