Just like any other business, an e-commerce company will appear to shapeshift a bit as it finds its footing and comes into its own. As long as you have a plan that you’re confident in and some expectations of where you’d like to end up, you should be able to minimize trouble navigating your way up the ladder. You’ll be guiding your business every step of the way, so the changes should come naturally anyway.
Some great ideas are lost to laziness or impatience, while others become the foundation for international businesses that have a wide-reaching and long-lasting impact on society. Stick to your mission statement, and remember why you started your business in the first place. Keep an ear to the street to keep up with the trends; know your demographic like the back of your hand. Read on as we walk you through your e-commerce company from A to Z.
Life-Cycle of an E-Commerce Business
A business can start small and slowly conquer the globe, it can blow up and die out in a flash, or it can fail to ever really leave the ground. However long or short your company’s life-cycle turns out to be, it will move through certain stages as it develops. How successful your venture ends up depends on how you handle the progression through these stages.
Technically, the only two things you need to start an e-commerce business are an idea and access to the Internet. Run with whatever sparked you, but think about your potential markets, target demographics, and manufacturing needs. Then you can use social media and your website to introduce your brand and start generating buzz; then look at the data to see how people respond. Once you get the ball rolling, you’ll have to continue to engage your audience so you can build on your following and expand your business.
Questions to Ask Yourself
If you have a creative solution to a problem, a service that makes life simpler, or a product that can’t be matched in quality, you already have the necessary seed for an e-commerce business. The first step is to take your early idea and refine it into something more specific that you can objectively define. The idea doesn’t have to be revolutionary, it just needs to be appealing to a broad enough audience that you can make an impact on the market.
First, decide what industry your idea falls into. What are the big names in this industry, and will they be your competition? How will you push through to reach your target demographics? What makes your idea better than those already out there?
If your idea is still vague, think about what may be lacking in the industry you’re interested in. What is your market looking for, where is the demand, and where is the supply currently coming from? Will your products or services be cheaper, more efficient, or safer than alternatives? How will you meet the manufacturing needs when demand is steady?
The clearer your goals are, the easier they are to stick to, and sticking to the plan is easier when it’s laid out in detail ahead of time. Do market research to test different ideas and find out what’s in highest demand, and decide how you’ll meet that demand while making a profit.
Building and Using Your Website
No matter what stage of the life-cycle your e-commerce business is in, your website will always be its home base. This is where your business cards will direct customers, and it should include everything a visitor might want to know about your business. A quality website is crucial, as are drawn to intentional, clean work: it shows a level of care which will be transferred into your product as well. You can also use your website and social media accounts to drive traffic to your online store. If technology isn’t your strong point, there are plenty of solutions to building a better web presence!
Knowing Your Platforms and Tools
Although an idea and an Internet connection are technically the requirements to start an e-commerce business, you’ll probably use all kinds of tools along the way. You’ll make use of social media apps like Facebook and Twitter to popularize your brand, and you’ll probably use strategy and scheduling tools like Hootsuite or Hubspot as well. It helps to get familiar with your chosen software and operation systems as soon as possible to help you better manage your work!
Ins and Outs of Amazon
Twitter, Instagram, and similar social media platforms will allow you to promote your brand and connect with your following, but chances are you’ll do most of your e-commerce business through sites like Amazon. If you do choose Amazon Marketplace, you should know how to manipulate the system so your products sell. Below are three tactics that the professionals use.
Three Tactics for Selling on Amazon
- Price competitively. People shop online for convenience, but they also want to find the best deals. By choosing competitive price points for your products, you make your wares accessible to a larger demographic. Maintain balance: you want to profit while simultaneously placing your product at a more desirable price point than your competition.
- Hack the Frequently Bought Together page. Exposure means a lot in the marketing world, and you want your products to pop up as much as possible. By manipulating the Frequently Bought Together page, you can forge an association between your product and another product that already sells well. There are many ways you can get your products featured, and reaching out to other vendors may be fruitful in this scenario.
- Do keyword research. You know how old your demographics are, where they live, and how they shop, but what keywords do they use to find products? Keyword research reveals the hot search terms that consumers are using, and then you can use this info to optimize your page.
Hiring Third-Party Companies
If you feel like data analytics, keyword research, and search engine optimization just aren’t in your wheelhouse, you can always look for third-party help. Companies like us at Seller’s Choice specialize in branding development and marketing, especially when it comes to Amazon, and we use that know-how to help business owners meet their goals. You can also find endless free information online that you can use to hone your skills and master your marketing campaigns on any medium you choose.
Engaging Your Following
People like to share their thoughts and feelings with one another, so it’s no surprise that social media has taken off the way it has. Once you’ve built up a commendable following that supports your business, you have to think of ways to keep spreading the word. Encourage your social media followers to share, retweet, and reblog your content so it follows the webbing of their network and introduces your brand to more people. A Facebook or Instagram page that’s bubbling with user content and brand interaction is a sign of a healthy e-commerce business, so that’s what you want to strive for. Positive interaction shows that your brand can be trusted, and seeing that can break the ice for a lot of people. Reward your followers for their help, and they’ll keep taking you up on your offer.
Making the first steps in starting your own company can be scary, but if you are doing what you love and selling something you believe in, you are already setting yourself up for success. Intent is half the battle, and if you have that, you are almost there!