Everyone dreams of being an entrepreneur. You may have even had this dream at some point in your life. After all you have the freedom of setting your own work hours and vacationing whenever you please. You are the boss when you are an entrepreneur, and you never have to worry about promotions, getting the pink slip, or being fired. You may have heard that the best way to start a business is to go online or venture into E-commerce because the Internet makes starting up a business cheap and easy. This is further from the truth as the dot.com bust of the early 2000’s proved. However, you can be a successful owner of an online store providing you follow the seven rules to build a successful ecommerce business!
- Choose the products or services you want to sell
Choose the products or services you want the online store to sell and concentrate primarily on selling those. After all, your business will fail if you either don’t know what your are going to sell, or if you try to sell everything. You must keep in mind that this is the hardest step to starting a successful online business.
When you decide what you are going to sell, you must identify your target audience and know what they need in terms of a product or service. You need to customize and tailor your products and services towards their needs and tastes. To use an analogy, the car was becoming popular in America in the 1920’s. If you started a business which sold amazing horse buggies and carriages, your business was bound to fail because there would be no need for your products in your target markets.
- Make sure that you actually establish your ecommerce store
While this may seem like an obvious step to follow, it is more difficult than it seems to be. This is because your ecommerce business exists to satisfy and serve the needs of your customers. Therefore, its objectives, mission statement, and vision must revolve around an idea which creates products and services which your customers value, which will solve their problems, and which they will believe in. Because if they honestly believe that you care enough about their needs, they will feel as though you care about them as people. They will believe in you and trust you. Belief and trust in a store and its products and services are the foundation to making online sales and building up a loyal customer base.
- Figure out how you are going to make, package, and distribute what you sell
Once again, this may seem to be obvious and easy, but this is far from the truth. You could make the greatest coffee maker which works better than the best at Starbucks, but if you can not efficiently and cheaply make, package and distribute it, your business will fail. The reason is because your product will never end up in the hands of those in your target markets.
Remember that you can outsource your manufacturing at a heavily discounted rate. You can do the same with packaging. When it comes to distribution, you can forge networks with major shippers to ensure that your customers always receive your products and services when you promise.
- You need good customer service
The customer is king and will always have issues with your products and services which will need resolution. Customer service is all about finding ways to resolve issues which give your customers a headache in ways that they like. They will be happy with your company, and happy customers are loyal customers who do repeat business and give solid referrals. Referrals are the core of new customer acquisition even in the digital age.
In fact, you can actually brand your customer service offerings if they are excellent and design your digital and general marking strategy around that. Your business will be successful if you do this. But remember that your customer service must actually deliver what you promise or you will eventually fail because you will have disillusioned and disgusted customers who will no longer want to do business with your company.
- Actually launch your Ecommerce store
This may seem to be the easiest step of all, but it is actually the hardest one. Timing is everything in business, therefore you must choose a strategic time to launch your store. You will also need an attractive website which is informative, full of interesting, relevant, and useful content, and has a landing page which is attractive and contains information which your visitors can identify with and will find useful. All of these elements will ensure that your website will get the traffic needed to generate the conversions which generate sales and revenue streams.
- Build your brand and market it well
You sell products, services, or both through your online store. But the greatest and highest quality products and services are useless if your customers do not know about them and identify them. You create an identity and awareness about your products and services when you brand them. One of the best and cheapest ways to brand your product or service and market it is through organic marketing on social media platforms like Instagram and Facebook. You want to market your brand in ways that is unique from what your competition does. You also want to market your brand in ways that your customers will like.
- Scale your ecommerce store at the right time and pace
Businesses need to grow in order to survive. This is just common sense to anyone who understands business. But you need to scale your ecommerce store at the right time. This is when you have the funds to spend on a huge marketing budget while being able to pay your all of your expenses (fixed and variable) and generating decent profit streams. You also need to ensure that your business expands at the right pace. If you are too aggressive in your growth plans, your business will fail. The same is true if you are not aggressive enough.
You can constantly monitor key performance indicators (KPI) because they will inform you if you are growing according to your project plan and at the right pace.
A final word…
Starting an ecommerce store looks alluring, but it is very difficult and expensive. You need to have an idea that will sell, a workable plan to support your idea, and the funds to support your business activities, expenses, and expansion. While there is no guarantee that your ecommerce store will succeed (80% of businesses fail within the first five years of launching), you can follow certain rules which will substantially increase the prospects of your business succeeding!