The current growth of the e-commerce industry entices many entrepreneurs to dip in this immense pool of opportunities. However, not all willing to try, manage to stay in business. Why is this happening?
Most people believe that setting up an e-commerce shop is all there is to starting up a successful e-commerce business and that after that they can relax and wait for the money to start pouring straight into their pockets. Setting the online shop is the easiest part. What needs to be done beforehand and after the initial launch requires fulltime commitment and hard work.
Here are some useful tips on how to make your e-commerce business successful:
Niche down your idea
I am sure you have great ideas that you believe are going to make your site the supernova in the e-commerce sky. The reality is different though. The moment you come up with a promising idea, you can bet that there are several people already working on it. Learn how to be a step ahead of these people.
The simple thing to do is to niche down your idea. Instead of focusing on too many cases, try to narrow down your possibilities and find a “kicker”, something that will differentiate you from the competitors and make you have an advantage over them. Finding a niche is not easy. You can get inspired by your hobbies and interests and look for potential business ideas there. Or you may focus on what you are good at and try to use the knowledge and experience to your benefit.
When deciding on a niche, don’t forget to research your target group. I will illustrate how important this is with a simple real life example. Freebord is a US based company, giving the alternative to snowboarding in the summer. The target group is core riders, who breathe snowboarding, in this case snowboarding the streets. A few years ago a bunch of enthusiast decided to start selling this product in Bulgaria. The idea was fantastic, the product was new, mind-blowing. Did they succeed? Not yet. The problem was that they did not spend much time researching their target group. Freebording is a dangerous and expensive sport, which is appealing mainly to core riders. It turned out that in Bulgaria there are not too many such riders and a small number of them could afford investing in such an expensive sport. Moreover Freebording is a brand that is being developed internationally mainly online. Did the core riders spend too much time online? In fact some of them were so busy being outdoors that they did not even have a Facebook account.
On the other hand take Crockpot, which was again a brand new product on the Bulgarian market and again developed by young entrepreneurs. They managed to market it with an amazing speed again mainly online. But this time their target group was women, wives, mothers. A higher income group and of course we all know that women rule the internet.
Test your idea
Once you have a business idea, research the demand. No one wants to spend time and resources on a project, only to find out that nobody cares. In order to avoid this happening, try to find out whether there is interest in your product or niche and that investing in it will be profitable. One way to do it is to start writing about your product and see the response. Get to know your competitors. Learn about their business, so that you know what challenges you are facing.
Design a professional website
Just setting up a site is not enough to make an impression and to be remembered. If you want to have a successful e-commerce business, build a professional website – with slick design and excellent functionality. The website is the first impression that your customers will have of your business. Don’t let your customers view you as just another fish in the sea, be the fish in the sea. Make an impression and people will remember you.
Make strategic alliances
Startups often lack the resources to fund big advertising campaigns in order to make clients notice them. To compensate for this, they try to offer their customers some unique proposition, such as discounts and promotions. Will this be enough though to make your customers loyal? Often, when you want to make something big, you have to think small. It can be something as simple as making customers feel safe and comfortable buying from you. You can achieve this by making alliances with other businesses, which presence will breathe more trust into your business and make your customers feel more comfortable buying from you.
In order to build a successful e-commerce business, it is not enough to get a customer buy from you once. How do you create a loyal customer? Apart from offering great products and service, you can do better by simply having the right communication approach. Making your customers loyal is the equivalent to committing to a long term relationship. Be honest! Show your customers that you understand their needs and concerns and that you can offer them the right solution. Make your customers feel comfortable and secure shopping from you and you will change from being just a vendor to being their partner.
Use the power of content marketing
Content marketing seems to be largely underestimated when it comes to e-commerce business. Once you get the hack of it, it will turn into a powerful tool for developing your business. Don’t just write anything in order to boost your SEO. Write meaningful content about your industry or product. Write something that will get the audience stirring and will raise interest enough to make them share the content. Thus, you can establish yourself as e real professional in your field. Write in forums and be active on online venues related to your business. This will not only make you build connections, but also will keep you updated on what is happening in your market.
Choosing the right platform for your e-commerce site
We won’t beat about the bush. We use nopcommerce because it is awesome and we love it. It is a powerful free platform, which:
• offers an unlimited number of products, categories and manufacturers
• supports multi-store, multi-vendor
• integrates with many payment and shipping providers out of the box
• has powerful marketing and customer service features
• has an active community
• uses an enterprise technology (MS .NET and MSSQL Server ) despite the fact that it is free
• has a network of vendors, like Nop-Templates who can contribute the missing pieces for you
In any case these are the features you should be looking for, when deciding on your e-commerce platform. We do recommend nopCommerce so if you would like, give it a try at www.nopcommerce.com. To add a professional look and additional functionality to your website browse through our nopCommerce themes and extensions.