Before you go thinking that setting up an eCommerce business is in your best interests, you need all the facts.
It’s the new trend. Everyone seems to have an eCommerce business in operation these days, and the rest of us want to get in on the act. It seems so simple. By selling online, you can bypass the irritations of in-store management and face-to-face confrontations. We can even use systems like Amazon and eBay sales tools to help us along the way if we wish. Simply put, eCommerce looks like both the easiest and most attractive prospect for new business owners across the world.
But, it isn’t that simple. Just like any other business strategy, eCommerce won’t provide guaranteed success. Those who succeed in eCommerce do so because of their outstanding business knowledge and excellent tactics.
So, before you go thinking that setting up an eCommerce business is in your best interests, you need all the facts. We’re going to focus on a select number of things you’ll need to consider along the way. If at the end of this article, you still feel ready to get started, you can rest easy knowing you’re prepared.
No, you can’t just set up an online store and start selling. Although you might find success with a trial-and-error format, it’ll soon run out when stumbling blocks appear. Gaining knowledge requires an extensive analysis of both the industry and its inner-workings. There are plenty of online training courses you can utilize for this task in the first instance. Gaining an appreciation of how eCommerce platforms work will stand you in good stead for the future of your business.
What’s Your Niche?
Next, it’s imperative to identify your niche and what you hope to achieve with the business. The online marketplace might seem like an easy place to target, but it’s actually much harder than you expect. While a retail store might face competition from a handful of nearby outlets, your online business is competing with the world. If you’re going to go into this with the idea of selling generic items for average prices, you’ll struggle to succeed. Instead, finding a niche will help you to stand out from the crowd and generate the audience you seek.
Getting Started With Logistics
The great thing about eCommerce is that you can run the business from your home. Yes, moms…we don’t have to leave the house to run our profiting business. That’s awesome, but it isn’t easy. You’ll be forced to consider logistics in terms of order fulfillment and delivery choices for your customers. This is where multiple routes can be explored, from storing items in our garage to using external sources. Ultimately, some owners pay a little extra for companies like Red Stag Fulfillment to handle the responsibility for them. If you’re going to take matters into your own hands, you better be sure you have the space and management resources to deal with it.
What About Funding?
Another misconception surrounding eCommerce is that you’ll make profits straight away. That couldn’t be further from the truth. In addition to the funds you’ll need to pay out for the privilege of stocking your inventory, there’s much more to consider. You’ll need funding to get your website up and running in the initial stages. You’ll also want to pour money into your marketing strategy, including things like if necessary. And, don’t forget that you need to get by. Those first few months will be tough from a financial standpoint, so a stable financial base is crucial.
The next thing you need to consider is the type of sales platform you intend to use. Outsourcing this responsibility often provides you with software and online tools to help you along the way. Amazon and eBay are two of the most popular sources for this task, but they command a price. You’re never truly able to manage things your own way, and that’s the price you pay for the convenience of their services. If you’re going to set up on your own, you’ll need to invest in good management software, web design, and web hosting.
The Dangers Of Fraud
You might just be a mom sitting in a house, but you’re not off-limits when it comes to fraud. Fraudsters don’t care whether they’re targeting big corporations or home-based entrepreneurs. In fact, the latter category is often more enticing to them, as they know you won’t be as protected against fraudulent activity. They’ll hit you where it hurts — the internet. Unless you’re adequately secured by antivirus, hosting, and exceptional data privacy procedures, you’re in trouble. Even then, having an IT support expert on hand to examine your systems on a regular basis might come in handy.
Customer Service Considerations
It’s nice when you don’t have to deal with face-to-face customer service. Resolving issues over the phone or via the internet is a convenience for you, but it isn’t for the customer. In fact, the reason why many retail stores continue to exist stems from a customer’s desire to speak in-person. So, you need to make up for that with the way you handle your customer service. Implementing a live chat system might be beneficial, as well as having an active social media presence to respond to direct messages. And, when it comes to product returns, you need to ensure your policy is clear and enticing for the customer.
The success of your eCommerce business is massively affected by the way you handle digital marketing. Everything from social media to email marketing must be considered if you hope to achieve success. So, what do you start with? Facebook and Twitter are crucial tools for your business to achieve brand awareness. Paid advertising should be considered, especially if you need to get more eyeballs on the business. SEO is important for your website, and strategies like PPC can help to make your company stand out on the web. Without digital marketing, it’ll be difficult for anyone to know your business exists.
A big factor in your success relates to how you handle product pricing. Setting your products at a low price point might entice customers to make purchases, but it won’t result in grand profits. Similarly, pricing them out of the market will bring in huge profits per purchase, but won’t result in much customer engagement. Finding the sweet spot requires a lot of analysis surrounding the industry and your competition. When combined with CRM tools, this information can identify trends and tidbits that help you to find the perfect price.
Once you’re up and running, you should always be monitoring your business continuously. Failing to adapt on the fly means that the competition will get a head start, potentially stealing your customers away from you. The best way to analyze your success is to check statistical data surrounding a variety of different areas. By analyzing website engagement or purchase trends, you can get a bigger picture of what works and what doesn’t. Then, you can streamline your business operations to make your company more effective in the areas it’s struggling in. If you fail to engage with this data on a regular basis, you’ll fall behind soon enough.
In the online world, everyone is a so-called ‘keyboard warrior.’ It’s a term that relates to the harsh nature of humans when they’re hidden behind a monitor in the comfort of their home. Some of them are willing to provoke with negative comments and abusive language towards companies online. You’re almost guaranteed to face a negative reaction from a portion of people, and how you deal with it is crucial. Responding to needless negativity isn’t a good idea, but acknowledging constructive criticism is. Facebook and Twitter will be your primary outlet for general communication, and you’ll need to tread carefully as you go.
Be Clear With Your Information
Here’s an example for you. A big company sets up a competition on Facebook to win an iPad. As part of the deal, they request for entries to be submitted by sharing and liking the post, thereby increasing brand awareness. You’ll find that in these instances, a somewhat large percent of people won’t follow the rules. They skip over the information, failing to adhere to the requirements. This is why complex terms and conditions can easily confuse those who shop online. And, you better believe the customer will turn angry later on, even if the mistake was their fault. The best way to avoid this is to be as clear as possible with all information.
At the start of this article, we mentioned how eCommerce businesses aren’t guaranteed successes. Even if you do everything we’ve mentioned on this list, you might fail. Ultimately, the only way to cut the risk of your venture is to set yourself up with a plan B. Whether that’s another business model, a different niche, or emergency funds in the bank, it’s important to consider. Otherwise, your ambitious venture might just turn into a business bust, causing havoc to your finances in the process.