Are you thinking about starting an e-commerce business? Or, perhaps, considering taking an existing business online by building a custom website to sell your products? If you’re ready to take the plunge into a highly competitive industry, then there’s a few important factors that new online merchants must first take into consideration.
As enticing as online selling may sound, starting an online e-commerce business is much more of a daunting task than most business owners had anticipated. From the conceptualization of the website to its effective implementation, every stage of e-commerce business development needs to be handled with a thoughtful attention to detail. For first-time entrepreneurs, the way they setup an handle the overall day to day operations will impact overall success. As such, online business owners must be adept at the in-depth, complex e-commerce industry right from the beginning.
If you have decided you’re going to leave an everlasting mark within a specific e-commerce niche industry, here are some topics and helpful tips for any online merchant newbie.
Focus on Website Design and Layout
Imagine yourself as a first-time visitor to your new e-commerce web shop. What would be your first action when browsing for products or information on the business? If you have a sub-par first impression, you’re likely to leave the site without browsing product offerings. The complete user-experience plays a vital role in determining conversion rates and greatly depends on the e-commerce store design.
When starting any e-commerce venture, you must prioritize the user-experience. An attractive, clean, and easy-to-navigate website will likely outrank the competition in 2018. If you do not have the required web development skills to enhance the e-commerce site design, then you must invest a portion of the startup capital in professional help from an experienced web design firm that specializes in e-commerce site development. The key to designing an attractive and engaging web store is to keep navigation clean and simple, as well as enticing enough to draw your target audience’s interest.
Your Online Store Won’t Instantly Receive Visitors
Once you have successfully designed, launched and indexed your e-commerce store, you may be thinking, “Now what?” Do not assume “if you build it, they will come”! A common mistake online business owners make after a website launch is believing visitors will automatically find their web shop. This couldn’t be further from the truth! If you’re a new online entrepreneur with a new brand, you’ll have to make an even greater effort than most other businesses to organically spread the word about your online store. This requires you to build your brand through consistent hard work, along with constant trial and error.
Small online businesses must focus on building brand awareness online and through traditional advertising channels. Marketing your e-commerce store locally at events or small exhibitions is an ideal face-to-face brand building strategy. Online businesses that also utilize industry events can effectively promote themselves by purchasing portable custom booth displays. Trade show marketing is still one of the most common ways to professionally advertise and grow brands. Creative branding campaigns leave a lasting impression on event attendees. The combination of digital and in-person marketing is often difficult for established companies that have decided to take their business online and they can grossly underestimate their competition.
To effectively draw ample organic traffic to your online store, you must adopt effective digital marketing skills. This includes email marketing, the latest SEO strategies, content marketing, social media campaign management, and paid online ad campaigns. Organic traffic generated from page one placement within Google SERPs can eventually become the catalyst that generates regular website traffic, substantial long-term profits, and the highest ROI.
Understand Budget Management
When creating an e-commerce establishment, you must keep an eye on the finances. Understand that in order to be a successful online store owner, you must start with a strong foundation. That “strong foundation” is the e-commerce website itself. You must set aside the required working capital needed to put towards proper web design and development. Another important decision-making task for e-commerce merchants is deciding how much inventory they need in the first 6 months. Often, inventory planning problems will destroy startup budgets.
Focus on running and maintaining a lean e-commerce operation. The lower you keep overhead, the more you can stay competitive with lower prices. However, maintaining inventory is a must in some industries to prevent out-of-stock issues. If this is the case, understand that a physical inventory must be worked into the budget. Long periods of out-of-stock products will quickly lead to bad customer reviews that ultimately damage your company’s online reputation.
Always Listen to Customer Feedback
In any business, your clients own you. You have to abide by their rules, schedules & preferences. As a result, you must focus on learning the behavior of your target audience. Listen to their feedback, especially negative feedback! Understanding what target customers need will help business owners provide them with the proper online resources to solve problems. Take the time and invest your marketing dollars in talented content writers that know your industry. Focusing on enhancing the user experience means creating a website that’s easy to use and organizes rich valuable in user-friendly categories. Improving user experience will help increase your organic SERP rankings in 2018.
Your website will begin to organically generate a high level of unique visitors if your store is an attractive online platform for purchasing products. It is also beneficial to become the preferred customer resource for problems related to your industry. Focus on making your website the top online shop for your industry, but also the top online library of helpful content that consumers will remember anytime they have a problem or question related to your industry. Always listen to your customers, keep them happy, and you’ll be rewarded with an ever-increasing amount of website traffic.
Don’t Give Up Too Soon
Are you fearful that your online business might take far too long to turn a profit? This is a common reaction by many online business owners that had initially underestimated the level of competition. However, you must not fret the fate of your e-commerce store. Instead, you should focus on delivering your products effectively and improving your site’s user-experience. The key is to maintain a hard work ethic, positive attitude and always be learning from like-minded entrepreneurs and industry influencers.
Maintain a Dynamic, Fresh Marketing Campaign
One of the key aspects of succeeding in any business is through effective growth hacking. As such, once you’ve worked out all of the website bugs, weeded out the weak products, and optimized promotions, you can start focusing on growth hack marketing campaigns. This means developing new marketing strategies within your industry that have yet to be implemented by any other business in the past. No matter the industry or competition level, there are still several digital marketing strategies that have yet to be developed. If you can maintain a strategic digital marketing campaign, the greater the chance you’ll have at finding success online!
Combine these essential online selling and digital marketing strategies to help guarantee success running an e-commerce business in 2018. Always have faith in yourself and carefully selected team. Always remember to listen to your customers and their needs. You will live and die by your customer list! The e-commerce industry seems overwhelming with the continued rapid growth. However, in reality there’s still ample opportunity for online retail success. The key is learning as much as possible about the e-commerce industry and understanding what to expect as a new online retailer, before deciding it’s the right business for you.