- eCommerce entrepreneurs face a variety of challenges, so they need to get these steps down before launching their online store.
eCommerce is growing fast, with global sales surging to 26.7 trillion in 2021. Although its acceleration was somewhat facilitated by a global pandemic, the internet’s increasing reach into every corner of our lives has seen online retail proliferate. That means there’s still an opportunity for new brands and businesses to emerge and reap the benefits of commercial transition.
However, starting an online business requires meticulous planning and a well thought-out strategy. Here we share with you four of the most important aspects to have in place if you want to nail it and become a success.
1. Create products people want
The market comes first — then the product. Not the other way round. What does this mean? You need to find a specific group of people with a problem or want, and then create a product or service to solve or cater to it.
With the vast abundance of options available across the market, it’s foolish to just create something from your own mind’s eye and then just expect people to buy it. Instead, you need to find a specific group of people, figure out what they want and provide it for them.
To do this, you need to identify what marketing expert Seth Godin calls the smallest viable audience: “Identify the smallest group of customers that will enable you to thrive. By seeing them, obsessing about them and serving them, you can refine your product at the very same time that you establish the conditions for growth.”
In other words, once you understand who the product is for, and what it’s for, it’s easier to create something that will resonate with the target audience. They provide all the answers.
2. Devise a thorough marketing plan
So, you now know your customer and you’ve created the perfect product or service to cater to them. What next? How can you take them on a customer journey towards conversion, all the way from awareness to acquisition?
Awareness is all about getting the fundamental principles and psychology of marketing correct: offer free value, create credibility and thus desirability. Once you have a good knowledge of the eternal principles of marketing, you can begin to pair these with the best of the current tactics available to you, which you need to adapt to. Remember: the fundamentals don’t change, but the tools to utilise them do.
In the digital era, the likes of SEO, email and social media are now your best bet to get eyes on your brand. Social media is the air online brands breathe now, and is influential in getting new businesses off the floor.
But you need adaptability. If you look at social media, for example, the dominant platforms change every few years. In the late 00s to early 10s, Facebook was dominant. Then it was Instagram. TikTok, currently the fastest growing platform in 2021, now looks like it could take the mantle. In social media, things change quickly, so you need to spot the emerging platforms and, if you can, be an early adopter. If you can achieve this, you’ll be rewarded with an abundance of organic (free) growth.
Alongside this, never forget who your audience is, because that is the key for all of this to work . Advertising works better when it’s specific, and you wouldn’t want to try and sell cars to people who don’t drive — it’s a waste of time and money. So make sure you focus on the demographic (gender, age) and psychographic (worldviews, beliefs) that your brand is designed for.
3. Provide a reliable delivery service
Some might be a little sceptical that delivery should have its own section on such a list, but it’s well worth its place. Why? A reliable delivery service maintains a solid foundation for the rest of your businesses to rest on, and this could be the difference between success and failure. Just look at ASOS. Their immense growth is supported by a spot-on logistics model, offering free next-day delivery with an annual subscription.
When it comes to things like delivery and payment, customers crave reliability, but also options. Whether they need it a certain day, next-day or even same-day delivery, offering an array of possibilities is a certified way to get them to convert.
Not only that, having multiple options also ensures that your business has back-up options in adverse circumstances. As CitySprint explains: “Having a suite of delivery options available to you means you can not only offer customers a delivery solution to suit their needs, you also have the back-up needed for stock movements, holiday and sickness cover for in-house fleet or ad hoc requirements.”
4. Have an optimised website
Even back in 2006, Google was processing 10,000 queries a second. Now it’s around 63,000 per second (5.6 billion per day). The importance of an optimized website is clear, since the sheer mass of traffic driven through search engines is undeniable. When designing your site, you’d be wise to ensure all the basic best practices, SEO principles and design principles are in place from the outset.
Once you have laid the foundations, it’s time to dress up the interior. This is where you can get creative. One of the most important rules here, really, is not to be boring. Yes, align your website with SEO best practice, clear navigation and keyword targeting, but in terms of the layout, the colour and the copy, you have the freedom to express what you are about.
Ultimately, customers want a site that will excite them, grab their attention and make them want to know what you have to offer. Communicating your mission and products clearly requires careful consideration of the visual factors that will keep users on your site long enough to engage with the brand and ultimately convert.