How to start a Successful Ecommerce Business. Times are changing. If you haven’t already shifted your business to an online platform, you are severely jeopardizing the success of your business. As an entrepreneur, you are faced with two options. You can either move your brick and mortar shop online, or you can capitalize on new products to sell on the market. If you opt for the latter, the best strategy would be to research what products are highly profitable on the market today. The next step, for either scenario, would be to set up a long term goal that will ensure your online store will make it through the years. The key here is vision and value.
In this article, we’ll explore what e-commerce actually entails and how to move your brick and mortar shop from the street to the internet. Then we’ll get into the basics for a successful e-commerce website and how to build your brand. And finally, we’ll investigate strategies to increase sales for your online business for the years to come. By the end of this article, you should feel very confident to launch your first online business. Now let’s get working!
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What is e-commerce?
Wondering where the term e-commerce comes from? It means electronic commerce, though it’s more widely understood in today’s day and age as, ‘internet commerce.’ According to Shopify e-commerce is any transaction that takes place online. To be more exact, when products or services are purchased and sold online. However, e-commerce is not limited to goods and services only, but any type of commercial transaction that takes place online like, internet banking, online auctions, etc.
As soon as websites like Amazon and Alibaba opened the gateways to online shopping the market has never been the same. Brick and mortar shops began to notice a major decrease in sales, while online businesses soared- breaking record sales yearly. It’s impossible to ignore the shifting trends of the online market.
There are several advantages e-commerce has over your traditional brick and mortar store, like:
- The number one advantage being cost.
- When you have an online shop you won’t have to sign up for a yearly contract on a retail space.
- You’ll also be able to keep your customers, even when you don’t have their desired products in stock. As soon as your customer confirms their order, you can source the products they need, even when out of stock. With a brick and mortar store, when you don’t have the desired products, your customers are very likely to shop by your competitors instead.
These are just a few examples of the advantages and how you can cut your costs with an online shop vs a physical shop. That being said, if you run a traditional brick and mortar store and want to launch an online business, you’ll have a lot to learn. We don’t mean to scare you, just to prepare you. There are, in fact, several skills that you will be able to transfer over to your e-commerce business. However, in order to truly succeed there are a number of tricks to the trade that will need to be mastered. We’ll have a closer look at that in the next section.
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How do I move my brick and mortar shop online?
So, you’re finally ready to take your business to the next level and reach a whole new market? This is a big step and is something you should take pride in. Though the learning curve is steep, with a clean-cut business plan and your goals clearly laid out, you will be able to successfully embark on this new market journey.
Here’s your step-by-step guide to moving your physical shop online:
Launch a Website
The first basic step is to choose a free domain and host for your website. You can start with a 14-day or 1-month trial. You can opt for a free domain, or immediately pay for your domain if you know what you want. Shopify is a simple website domain to start with, or you can opt for an Amazon shop depending on the products you want to sell.
You’ll then need to set up a system to keep track of what sells online and which products need to be restocked. If you have a warehouse you’ll want to create a separate ‘bin’ for your online shop and one for your brick and mortar shop. You’ll then be able to link your e-commerce shop to your warehouse management system. By setting up this integration system you avoid customers purchasing products that are out of stock. This could lead to customer complaints and affect your reputation online.
Shipping Methods and Prices
Once your inventory is up and organized you’ll need to set up an easy payment method and shipping method. You want to keep your shipping expenses as low as possible. To get a clear sense of numbers, 95% of shoppers claim that shipping expenses impact their purchasing decisions and 36% of shoppers abandon their shopping carts at the last step before purchase because of shipping fees. So, wherever possible, cut back on your shipping fees.
When setting up payment methods we believe the more options the merrier. Since this is an online transaction, of course, you’ll be accepting credit card payments, but it’s also an intelligent idea to accept PayPal and other ‘online wallets.’ This way your shoppers can pay according to their preferences. We also recommend requesting to save the shoppers’ shipping and preferred payment method for their next purchase. Saving this information will help your returning customers check out faster during their next transaction.
Next up is online marketing. Online marketing is key to a successful e-commerce business. We mean that with all seriousness. It’s wonderful to have a solid reputation with your oldest customers. But, in order to make it online, you’ll need to expand your target audience beyond the regular foot traffic consumers. Reaching a wider audience through online marketing is where the profit is at. The most effective tools for generating online traffic is Google Analytics, Search Engine Optimization (SEO), Social Media, Google Ads, Email Marketing, and Online Ads.
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What are the basics for a successful e-commerce website?
The truth of the matter is, there is an overwhelming amount of competition out there, both online and on the streets. That’s why every decision you make when it comes to your e-commerce site matters. The good news is there is always room for improvement and a graceful recovery time. When you launch your website and start paying for ads, you’ll certainly want to get your money’s worth. This means your website needs to be ready for your target audience.
Let’s explore 5 basic ‘must-haves’ for a successful e-commerce website:
1. Intuitive, easy to use page
An integral ingredient for a successful online business is an easy to navigate website. When your customers can’t find what they are looking for, very quickly, they will leave and find a website that, well, doesn’t waste their time. Avoid clutter, make it as easy as possible for your target audience to find what they are looking for. And, make it easy for them to quickly make their purchase.
2. High-Quality Images
The quality and style of your product images will make or break your website. Why would someone buy a product that doesn’t appeal to them? Right, that’s exactly how you should think when it comes to your consumer. High-quality images reflect the quality and value of your products. If you don’t value your products enough to take high-quality photos then why should your consumers desire your products?
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3. Don’t underestimate the power of SEO
Search Engine Optimization is one main tool that will bring your consumers to your site and away from your competitors. Ideally, your consumer should be able to type into Google what they are looking for, and your website should appear on the first search result’s page. SEO is how you land your website onto the very first result’s page. This involves generating articles and blog posts regularly.
Did you know that almost four out of five American shoppers are shopping online? And imagine this, more than half of those shoppers made their purchases through their mobile devices. Right. There’s no reason to limit your website to desktops when billions of people are shopping and surfing the web daily through their mobile phones. The more devices and platforms your target audience can discover and purchase your products the higher your sales rate will be. It doesn’t take an economist to figure that one out. When you have the option to design your website for smartphones, go for it. And if you haven’t already, it should be a goal on your list of priorities this month.
5. A strong Brand Identity
It’s essential for your consumer to obtain an understanding of your company as soon as they land on your page. In order to catch your target audience’s attention and sales, you want to achieve a design that appeals to them. The same way we dress with a certain style to express our identity, whether that’s business owner, artist, graphic designer, or professional skater, your website design will express your brand identity. In the next section, we’ll explore in detail how to build a brand identity for your online business. That’s just how valuable we believe your brand identity is for the success of your business.
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How do I build a brand for my e-commerce business?
Your brand is your business’ identity. It’s the tools you use to express your business’ identity to your customer as soon as they enter your site. It’s the way you separate yourself from your competitors, how you stand out from the crowd. If you want your business to survive long term you will need to establish an identifiable brand.
Here are 4 methods to Build a Brand Identity for your Ecommerce Business:
- Write it out
Write out exactly who you are and why your customers need your products or services. Once you have that clearly laid out, distribute the document to your team and ask them for their input. What does your team understand your target audience and about the overall business? Make sure your entire team is on the same page. The goal is that all of your products/services and target audience are comprehensively understood.
- Brand Images
Sure you can buy photos off of Shutterstock, or download free photos available online. But in this case, what you put in is what you will receive. What we’re saying is, we strongly believe in the power of your images. Whether it’s through advertisements or the images on your website, you’ll need images that stand out and flow. Your customers should recognize your style when your ads pop up on their Instagram, Facebook, or Google pages.
- Build a Brand Voice
Your brand voice works hand in hand with your images. Your image is what will capture your audience’s immediate attention. But your voice is what will captivate and allure your audience. In the same way, it’s important to be consistent with your images, it’s important to be consistent with your voice. This is how you not only build trust with your audience but build your brand; a brand that lasts through the years. This is how you communicate with your target audience and it’s your selling point.
- Overall Aesthetic
Your overall aesthetic is the typography you choose, the icons you choose, and the color scheme that flows across your website. Your logo is the face of your brand, while the typography is used to back up your written word. The colors can help evoke an emotional response from your clients. The colors you choose can increase brand recognition to nearly 80%. Now that’s a number you just don’t want to ignore.
Photo Credit by Braveen Kumar
What are strategies to increase sales for my online business?
Now that you’re ready to launch your e-commerce site, you’ll want to dive right in for maximum growth. So how do you ensure your sales are where they should be? and then some? There are many successful techniques out there for increasing sales, no matter what type of business you’re running. And everyone wants to see an increase in sales from the head-honchos to the small independent businesses.
Here are 5 methods to quickly increase sales for your e-commerce site today:
- Say yes to Ad Extensions: Ad extensions are usually free and allow your ads to grow in size. The bigger the ad, the more locations your customers can click. The more places your customers can click, the higher your click-through rate is. Really, it’s as simple as that.
- Quality Content Posts: This strategy not only increases your wonderful use of SEO but also builds trust and a relationship between you and your customers. When you supply informative blogs, articles, and videos on the services or objects you’re selling, your customers will have faith in your products. When they learn something from you, they trust your company as one who knows their products, one who knows what they are selling. Connoisseurs, if you will.
- Cross-selling: Cross-selling is when you offer a group package that goes along with an item in your customer’s shopping cart. So, for example, if your customer is buying an all-natural coconut-butter body cream, you can also offer an all-natural coconut cream for the eyes and lips as a package deal. Do you see where we’re going with this?
- Customer Testimonials: Customer testimonials have the power to make or break your business. In all honesty, customers will trust other customers sooner than they will trust the copy on your website. Why? Because we’re social beings, and we place a lot of trust in other’s experiences, even if they are strangers. 85% of customers trust a customer review they’ve read online as much as they trust an in-person recommendation.
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- Decoy Pricing: We’re about to get psychological if we haven’t already. Decoy pricing is when you offer a mid-range product for your consumer. Well, technically you’ll be creating a more expensive product, which will ‘push’ many customers towards the mid-range article. According to WordStream, “By including a third “decoy” option in your pricing structure, you can push people toward the middle option – the one you really want them to buy. Sure, some people will go for the most expensive option anyway (which is a bonus, revenue-wise), but most will subconsciously avoid the decoy and choose the middle-tier option, which is precisely what you want them to do.”
The Bottom Line
At this point in the game, e-commerce is no longer an alien concept. This means there are loads of reliable resources out there that can guide you along the way. Though you may have to extend your budget for an e-commerce business in the beginning, if you already have a brick and mortar store, the benefits are well worth it. As we’ve seen in the last years, e-commerce is an extremely profitable market. And the truth of the matter is, if you don’t have an e-commerce extension to your business, you’ll severely fall behind and lose out on too many sales. Imagine this, “Brick-and-mortar retail growth during the 2019 holiday season stood at 1.4 percent, trailing the 8.1 percent growth rate for eCommerce.” Are you finally ready to take your business idea to the next level?
Other related articles you might like to read:
- How to Increase Sales through Facebook Ads for Your Business
- What is SEO and Why Does It Matter?
- What is Ecommerce Marketing and How Does One Develop a Successful Strategy?
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