History of the Internet and E-commerce
The inception of WWW fueled the rapid rise of Internet users worldwide. The users around the world started using the Internet for communication purposes. But these days of the Internet as only a communication platform are over by a long way. From 1991, a whole new era began. This is when two rampant forces in form of Internet and business met each other to give birth to a whole new field—the E-commerce. From that point of time, the Internet has never been the same.
In the early days, the E-commerce platforms were primarily used for EDI (Electronic Data Interchange) and EFT (Electronic Funds Transfer). Compared to those days, the scenario has changed drastically. Today, a countless number of enterprises have adopted the Internet to perform business. Many large-scale organizations are based solemnly on the E-commerce platform. Going by the stats, there are about 3.7 Billion users accessing the Internet from different devices—roughly 47% of the world’s population. Out of these 3.7 billion users, around 40% of them use E-commerce websites for a variety of reasons. However, this is not the full picture. The E-commerce bandwagon is on the rampage and there are no signs whatsoever of it getting slowed down. By 2020, the forecasted figures given by the experts are mind-boggling (to say the least!). Consequently, it is estimated that the e-commerce market will touch new skies by touching the staggering number of $4.06 Trillion. Yes, you heard that right!!!
Before 5-6 years, establishing an E-commerce business was a distant dream for most. It involved laborious processes of designing and developing. This was because of the unavailability of adequate resources as well as proper expertise in the market. However, this scenario has changed and how! Mind well that building an E-commerce business is still not a piece of cake but it is not as far as it seemed once upon a time. With a number of CMS’s (Content Management Systems), Mobile e-commerce platforms, plugins, add-ons, etc. easily available, establishing an E-commerce business has become a much less complex process nowadays. As far as the expertise is concerned, it has become a business today. There are a countless number of service providers that help you build entire business from scratch.
E-commerce sector: An extensively popular choice of aspiring entrepreneurs
How do you capture a maximum audience with minimal effort? How do you target a customer sitting a thousand miles apart? How do you propel your revenues in much less time? The answer?? The Internet. With no boundaries or restrictions incurred in the offline businesses, starting up an E-commerce website has become an extensively popular choice of aspiring entrepreneurs. With so many competitors around, the E-commerce field has become no less than a battlefield. To win the war, you must employ cunning tactics, you must get your basics right, you must give everything you got, you must stand united against the blowing winds, you must understand your opposition, you must be ruthless, and more than anything else—YOU MUST STAY ONE STEP AHEAD. There is no other way around. From my point of view, these are the essential pillars without which the structure of E-commerce business cannot stand.
In order to win the big war of E-commerce business or any war for that matter, you have to win the small battles. We have come up with six vital objectives that may make or break your business. If you want to be successful in the E-commerce industry and want to come out as the top dog, fulfilling these objectives is an out-and-out prerequisite.
Define your business
The first and the most critical step when it comes to the E-commerce businesses is defining your very existence. So, how do you define your very own existence? You ask yourself. You must get your basics right. Following things must be taken into account:
- The Industry you are aiming at
- Impact of other sectors on your industry
- Targeted customer segment
- Biggest and nearest competitors
- Micro and Macro factors affecting your business
- Government laws and jurisdiction
- Your unique selling point (USP)
- Potential of the business
Pat your back if you are already clear with these factors. And if you haven’t, what are you waiting for?
Unique design and user-friendly UI
Proper design and user-friendly interface play a significant role in setting your business apart from the rest. However, it can turn out to be a cause of misery if you haven’t got it right. The design and UI of the website and application should be such that it provides smooth, easygoing experience to the users. The user should be able to complete all the tasks without complexity. Facebook is a great example for that.
Understanding the psychology of the users is an underrated aspect of design. Our brains work in a specific way and it is crucial to have a basic understanding of it. We’re not telling you to do a CT scan of the brain and analyze each and every part (Why would anyone do that!). The thing about the human brain is that it is always on the lookout for orders and patterns. Keeping this in mind, you must design the interface accordingly.
One more thing that should be looked after is adding adequate content in a well-directed manner. Don’t bombard the user’s screen with hundreds of words. Just add the necessary information at the places where it suits.
Enable HTTPS encryption using SSL certificates
Why should people trust you? When it comes to doing business in the illusionary world of Internet, trust is the biggest hurdle that you must overcome. Let’s get this straight, nobody trusts you and, why should they? After all, you’re a bunch of crazy entrepreneurs, aren’t you? They don’t see you, they don’t know you and still, you want them to give their hard-earned money and credit card details? Well, don’t lose hope as there is always a way. Trust is not something that can be built overnight. You have to work for it, take the necessary actions that will instill the seeds of trust in the user’s mind.
Fortunately, it is not as hard as it seems. More than anything else, the customers are worried about the security of their ultra-confidential information such as credit/debit card details, financial details, and personal information. How do you calm their nerves? You install an SSL certificate, that’s how. Whether it is your website or a mobile app, an SSL certificate is an unconditional requirement.
Now you must be thinking— “Which SSL certificate to choose?”. We strongly recommend incorporating an EV SSL certificate for your E-commerce business. Here is a great insight why EV SSL is a must for any E-commerce business.
Customer Satisfaction is EVERYTHING
Customer satisfaction should be at the top of your priority list. Gone are the days of “loyal customers”. Today, one gets a myriad of options for the exact same thing as a result of cut-throat competition. Once you get a new customer, you MUST do everything to retain him/her. Let’s get this straight—it takes a lot of effort to get a new customer than retaining existing one. Stats show that it is 6-7 times harder. Therefore, you must take necessary actions for it. Here are our recommended strategies:
- Give freebies and discounts to the customers using coupon codes
- On time delivery
- Live chat support
- Satisfaction surveys to get an insight
- Take lessons from the past and present complaints
- Social media monitoring
- Timely returns and replacements of products
- Be clear with policies, terms, and conditions, warranty etc.
Forget about word-of-mouth marketing, this is the age of “Like to Like” marketing. From my 12-year old niece to my 60-year old granny, everyone (well, most of them) is on social media nowadays. Therefore, the power of such platforms can hardly be exaggerated. Many large organizations have realized the colossal potential that social media represents. Companies such as Zomato made the most of it and still continue to do so.
If you want your startup to succeed in the times of such fierce competition, you can’t afford to ignore the massive force that is social media.
Choosing the right Payment Gateway is another key factor that every startup must consider. The payment process should be hassle-free and straightforward. The E-commerce enterprises must go with a reputed payment gateway provider even if means spending few more bucks. Moreover, the customer should be presented with a wide variety of payment options. This is crucial yet an underrated facet. The logic is simple—with more payment options come more customers.
Do you know that nine out of ten startups fail? Whether you like it or not, it is the harsh truth. As an aspiring entrepreneur, you must digest this fact. There are hundreds of reasons for it. However, there is no reason to be too pessimistic about it. With right strategies, right people, and right actions—ANYTHING is accomplishable. E-commerce business is no different. The aforementioned points are not the only things that you need to get right. However, these essentialities can surely play a central role in getting your startup in the 10% club.