E-commerce is essentially the electronic processes that enables individuals and businesses to buy and sell on the internet using smartphones, computers, and other smart devices. It promotes a faster shopping experience, as customers find and purchase what they want via a smart and efficient process. What's more, sellers don't have to spend a fortune to maintain a physical store, as all transactions can be done on their smart devices. E-commerce also offers cost-effective and quick ways of advertising and products. It's no wonder that an estimated 28.1 million Canadians shop online. Also, 55% of Canadian retailers sell their products through social media platforms. If you’re looking to start your e-commerce business, here is a practical guide to follow to successfully do so.
Choose a product or service to sell
Choosing a product or service to sell can be daunting if you’re new to the e-commerce business. Admittedly, it seems like every product that can be sold is already on the market, often causing entrepreneurs to wonder how they can succeed in this niche. Besides, competition is fierce, and selling products that don’t stick to buyers can cause your business to become irrelevant. Research by Huffington Post, Forbes and Marketing Signals revealed that 90% of e-commerce businesses fail 120 days after launch, with 35% citing low product patronage as the reason. This makes it important to discover the right product to sell to remain in the game.
Fortunately, you can achieve success in this area by following certain guidelines. For starters, it's best to identify and take advantage of customer pain points to grab the attention of your potential clients. While some products already exist, they may not solve certain problems. That said, you can introduce a product that solves these issues. You can also consider your professional experience and skill and how it can help lots of people. For instance, you can offer your data entry skills to clients who wish to outsource due to inadequate time on their hands. As a tip, seek emerging fads or trends and capitalize on them.
After determining what products you wish to sell, it’s logical to ascertain how to source your products. There are different ways to go about this, including drop shipping. You don't have to keep the products in stock with drop shipping. Instead, you purchase directly from your supplier and send it to your clients. It is ideal due to its low investment costs and risks, so keep this in mind.
Research your competitors
It's necessary to conduct proper research to ensure the success of your e-commerce business. As stated earlier, you will likely encounter fierce competition, making it imperative to understand how they operate. Moreover, it will help you understand why customers patronize them and the marketing strategies they adopt to stay relevant. Being ahead of your competitors means that you offer customers something unique, and conducting research will help you identify loopholes in your competitors’ products. These loopholes can help you determine what items will better suit the clients.
To get started, it’s crucial to identify the top ten competitors in your chosen niche to identify what distinguishes them from the rest. If you're wondering how to identify them, Google is a useful tool to help you out. Afterwards, you can compare their online content to figure out what they focus on. Do they blog a lot? Are they more concerned with premium content? Or do they leverage podcasts, newsletters or case studies? Conducting a competitive analysis will help answer these questions. While researching them, you also want to identify areas for improvement. This will help you offer better products and services, keeping you ahead of your competition.
Build your online store
Another aspect to consider is your online store. This is a website where your customers can easily place their orders. Depending on your clients, you can decide to operate your online store under a business-to-consumer or consumer-to-consumer business model. Having an online store can benefit your e-commerce business in so many ways. For starters, you can have more direct and personalized communication with your clients, which goes a long way in enhancing customer loyalty and retention. Moreover, you control how your business works while keeping all our sales revenue without splitting it with third parties. Also, you get full access to your clients' purchase history to determine what products are most desired.
You can leverage e-commerce hosting platforms such as Amazon or Shopify, as they make it easier to set up your store. You'll also need a domain name, so keep this in mind. Experts advise that you use a name that's easy to spell, short and relates to your business. By all means, ensure that your store has shopping cart software, a product catalogue, and a merchant interface to make shopping easier for your customers. Other additions include an online payment processor, shipping costs calculator and tax calculator. As a tip, ensure that your online store is optimized to generate ample traffic on search engines. For instance, it’s prudent to work with Amazon optimization experts if you decide to create your online store on the Amazon platform. After creating your site, you can perform a test order to ensure that your customers don’t experience any difficulty.
Focus on promoting your business
Now, your online store is ready. However, you won’t get the desired results if you don’t promote your business. It’s prudent to devote all your time to marketing until your site generates enough traffic and reaches potential customers. That said, feel free to leverage your social media platforms to market your brand. However, you don’t need to use all; finding the most appropriate platforms will do the trick. Therefore, determine what platforms your clients are more active in, and invest in them for the best results. Also, you can form strategic alliances with major brands. For instance, you can work with credible bloggers and influencers to help promote your brand. Blogging is also a great way to draw customers to your store, so feel free to utilize it.