In the last few years, eCommerce has grown significantly. There’s almost no company that hasn’t set up an e-store; even local brands and indie labels are selling online.
But although eCommerce offers amazing opportunities, the number of eCommerce companies that fail is surprisingly high. Research has shown that more than 95% of eCommerce businesses fail. This figure might seem staggering but it is perfectly understandable when you take into consideration that each e-store competes with nearly one billion websites out there!
We’re offering a guide that will help you plan and launch a successful e-store. It covers subjects such as finding the best products to sell, marketing strategies, customer service, and security. In other words, everything you need to kick-off an eCommerce business that will last.
1. Find the Right Products
The first question you need to ask is: What exactly should I be selling? Many people get stuck on this and eventually gave up the idea of starting an eCommerce store. But figuring out the right products for your e-store isn’t as complicated as it seems. It is simply a process of identifying a niche or a set of products that can’t be easily found on other eCommerce websites (including the big ones like Amazon).
Deciding to go with generic products like jewelry or books will most likely end badly for you. There’s a large number of e-stores that sell these products, so the customers’ needs in these niches are already met.
Begin with a list of potential products you could sell in your online shop. Think about what you, your family, friends, and colleagues would be interested in buying. In addition, go through social selling websites like Etsy and Pinterest and don’t forget to check Instagram out for more input.
Once you have your list of potential products, use Google trends to verify whether they’re any good.
2. Research Your Competitors
Before you take the leap of fate, you need to prepare. Once you’ve decided which products you’re going to sell, look at your competitors and see how they operate. Here are some questions you might want to ask:
- What have they done to achieve success?
- What is their business model?
- How many products do they offer?
- Who is their target market?
- Which social media platforms are they using?
- Which marketing tools are they focused on (SEO, PPC, email, paid social)
- How loyal and engaged is their audience?
Maybe you’ll find a few ideas worthy of borrowing or identify some things worth avoiding.
3. Build Your eCommerce Website
Start by choosing an eCommerce CMS tool, like WooCommerce and Shopify, to make the whole process of setting up your e-store easier. These platforms offer a lot of templates and don’t require ant development support. Here are several things you should pay attention to:
- Select a theme with your customers in mind.
- Choose a simple and memorable name for your store.
- The same goes for your logo – make it creative and colorful so that people can easily remember it.
4. Pay Attention to Security
When setting up your e-store, pay special attention to security. Consumers want to be sure that their personal information and payment details are protected.
One of the best ways to add security to your e-commerce transactions is by using a VPN.
A VPN (a virtual private network) is software that routes your connection through a server and hides your online activity by masking your IP address with a different one and encrypting your data. Choose the best VPN software to help your consumers enjoy their online shopping experience without worrying about falling prey to cybercriminals.
5. Simplify the Checkout Process
Once your eCommerce site is ready to start taking orders, test it to ensure that the checkout process is simple and seamless. Remove any unnecessary steps and only ask for the info that is necessary to complete the checkout. Furthermore, try to offer multiple payment options. If a customer’s preferred payment option is not available, they could abandon their cart without completing the purchase. In addition to the usual credit card options, including PayPal, Stripe, Apple Pay, and Google Pay.
6. Focus on Your Marketing Efforts
Once your e-store is launched, it is time to focus on marketing. Everything else can wait until you are certain that you can drive traffic to your online shop. The key to successful eCommerce marketing is finding the right channel. This, combined with a solid marketing strategy will help you reach and attract new customers.
In the beginning, you’ll have to get used to the idea that you can’t keep your earnings because you’ll need to reinvest them into ads. Check the relation between how much you earn and how much money you spend on marketing on a daily basis.
If you’re operating on a tight budget (which is expected), forget about long-term marketing tactics, like email marketing or SEO, and focus on direct advertising. Adwords and Facebook are great if you want to start making sales immediately.
7. Offer Outstanding Customer Service
Outstanding customer service is crucial for the long-term success of your business. In a survey conducted by Zendesk, more than half of the customers said that a good customer service influenced them to buy repeatedly from the company and nearly 60% of those customers recommended the good companies to others.
Ensure that your contact info is displayed on every page of your website to allow customers to reach you at all times. When a customer reaches out to seek assistance or make an inquiry, be prepared to respond quickly and solve their issues efficiently. In addition, create a detailed FAQ page, self-help content, and offer live chat support. All this will help you build trust and create repeat customers, which are 5 to 10 times cheaper to acquire than new ones.
8. Set Up a Loyalty Program
According to a study from Experian, 75% of the loyalty programs by US companies generate a return on investment. E-stores can gain significant benefits from loyal customers. Research has shown that eCommerce retailers see an average increase in repeat purchases of 20 percent because of customer loyalty programs. In other words, a loyalty program is a very efficient way to increase conversions.
In addition to this, a loyalty program will enable you to gather valuable customer data, help you create brand ambassadors from loyal customers who love your products, increase customer retention, and boost brand awareness.
When you’re starting an eCommerce store, focus on getting sales. Forget about having a great-looking website or perfect products at the beginning. Just take the leap and learn on the go. Concentrate on selling because that’s what makes a successful e-store. Once you make the first earnings, invest them into marketing so that you can continue growing your business. Only then should you start to pay attention to other aspects like perfecting the customer service and building a loyalty program.