Going by the numbers, global ecommerce sales for the retail sector are projected to exceed $3 trillion in 2019, involving purchases from nearly 2 billion users (Statista, 2019). Retail ecommerce sales have grown by as much as 23.3% this year as compared to 2018 (Statista, 2019), and up to a third of last year’s Black Friday sales were made online with the use of a smartphone (Adobe Analytics 2018). In addition, by 2040, up to 95% of all purchases may be made exclusively online (Nasdaq, 2019). All these mean that exciting times await entrepreneurs—and for some, it couldn’t be a better time to shift from brick-and-mortar dealings to digital entrepreneurship.
But merely registering a new online business may not guarantee your part in the victories above. Yes, in some ways, running an ecommerce business may be easier and cheaper than having a physical storefront: you’ll be paying less overhead, you can transact outside of traditional office hours, and you can take your entrepreneurial work virtually anywhere you go. However, ecommerce can also prove difficult because there’s a lot of competition, trends have shorter life cycles, and if you aren’t at the top of your game all the time you could easily become obsolete.
The same hard work, patience, and forethought that would go into opening a traditional brick-and-mortar business should be incorporated, albeit in different ways, to opening an ecommerce site. With that in mind, here are some useful pointers on how to start your own ecommerce business, and how to profit in the same way the world’s biggest ecommerce players are.
1. Decide which products to sell direct-to-consumer
The first thing you will need to do is to devise lineup of products to sell. Aside from being easy to produce or supply, it would be good if these products represent your talents and passions as an entrepreneur, and if they can solve a particular problem that other products may not.
2. Draft a business plan
Next, once you’ve determined which products you will be selling, craft a business plan in the same way you would if you were opening a physical storefront. Have your team strategize with you about how to reach customers; how to manage your budget; and how identify (and eventually beat out) your ecommerce business’s competitors.
3. Choose the right ecommerce platform
Your ecommerce platform will serve the purpose of organizing and displaying your products, just like a physical shelf would; that’s why it’s important to put some thought into which platform to use. Subscribe to one that’s feasible on your company’s budget; scalable according to how big you want your shop to be in the future; and compatible with major payment gateways and other customer service features that you need.
4. Build your own ecommerce brand
Once your ecommerce plans have begun in earnest, you will need to start building your brand or fleshing out the details that will distinguish you from your competitors. Make decisions on your logo, your brand message, your brand’s colors, and your domain name. For best results, you can get web designers and web copywriters to brainstorm with you.
5. Harness the power of SEO
Another field where it would help to have info from experts is search engine optimization, or SEO. SEO specialists can help you do keyword research, build links to your ecommerce site elsewhere on the web, and give advice on how to make your products more searchable ahead of thousands of others like them.
6. Link to reputable payment and shipping options
Don’t launch your ecommerce website without ironing out two important concerns: payment and shipping. Ensure that your site is linked to common, safe payment gateways that your customers can use for transactions; and that, once payment is done, that their items will be shipped to them on time. Depending on product type and amount, you can choose between drop-shipping from the product’s manufacturer or partnering with a third-party logistics (3PL) provider to do inventory, packing, and shipping for you.
7. Invest in sound ecommerce analytics
For quicker, more accurate decision-making in your business dealings, you will definitely want to invest some time and money into ecommerce analytics. You’ll learn about how many visitors came to your site per month, how many products you sold, and how high your conversion rate is—and you can tailor your upcoming decisions to improve on those.
8. Market aggressively
Lastly, don’t forget to tap as many relevant channels as you can when your ecommerce site is live and functional. You can use both traditional advertising media, like print ads, along with social media in order to grow awareness about your site. Make sure you’re visible to your target market—for example, if you sell tools and hardware, tap your local network of tradesmen in construction or electronics; if you sell health products, reach out to a customer base that’s similarly concerned with sports, healthy eating, or sustainability.
Ecommerce is often a make-or-break kind of scenario for entrepreneurs. On the one hand, competition and the quick evolution of technology could sink someone’s entrepreneurial dreams. But on the other, a vast market, massive earning potential, and greater longevity than physical storefronts could catapult someone’s humble business ideas into something extraordinary.
Heed the tips above to be on the winning side of this equation, and to add to the world’s numbers for ecommerce-related success.