As a business owner, you’ll have an excellent understanding of how your presence online can affect your sales and profit margin. It’s the perfect time to grow your ecommerce brand or company online. However, there is always going to be more competition, and you’ll need to keep up with your peers, and ideally exceed what they’ve achieved. You might think that you’ve done all you can regarding your website and social media platforms, but there are always the little details to focus on, that can help to make a significant difference. Big or small your company is, you want each area to be working hard for you, and bringing in a growing number of consumers.
If a visitor has a negative experience on your site, there are so many others to choose from that they’ll simply click elsewhere, and you’ll be quickly forgotten. Just like a physical store, you need to focus on drawing people in, impressing them when they arrive, and ensure they both return to invest in you and recommend you to others.
If you’re at a loss as to what more you can do, you’ll need an in-depth look at your online environment and start working out how each detail can improve for your company’s success. The following are some tips, ideas, and advice for those looking to be a little pedantic about their business so that competition is less of a worry.
Your first port of call should be your content — ask yourself if it’s working hard enough to bring in new traffic and ensure that you’re sitting where you want to be in Google rankings. It might be time to invest in a company who can help to hone your content creation, so look at sites like Webgator SEO agency to see how they can assist you in getting a much-needed boost. Just like anyone working for you, you want your content to be consistent.
Consistency will help to ensure that you’re appearing where you should in consumer social media feeds; stick to a rigid plan and utilise your analytics so that you’re posting things at the best time to reach your audience. Set a tone for your content. Your brand identity should shine through your words and images, so always keep this in mind when uploading.
The Personal Touch
Customers often get sick of mass, spam-like emails arriving in their inbox (or heading straight to their junk mail). Therefore, it might be worth taking a look at your list of customer contacts, gathering their information and data, and utilising it to create individual emails and a more personal touch when they’re contacted.
Aside from their name, you can use the items they were looking at to create a reminder email, or install the software so that pop-ups become a gentle push to bring them back to your site. Special offers on their birthday and other touches will help to give you a physical store feel, and you’ll build customer trust and appreciation.
It’s hard work bringing new visitors to your site, but it’s worth investing in so that your business can develop and grow.
These days, when you want to go into business for yourself, you really do have a whole host of options available to you. That’s the beauty of the modern world; so much more is accessible to you right now than it ever has been before. So you’re really not closed off from any kind of opportunity. However, with a smorgasbord of options, you may find that you have a lot to choose from – too much in fact. And that can leave you feeling overwhelmed. So, if you are going to set up shop, you might want to start with something broad, like online retail.
The online retail market might seem saturated to you, but there’s always room for more. Especially if you have a specific niche that you can go into. The thing with retail is, that people are often looking for the best product, things they need, things they want, and at the right price — not matter how low or high-priced that may be.
So as long as you can pull together a business plan for a good store with the right products aimed at a market that will be interested, you’ll be on the right track. So let’s take a look at what you might need to consider to make this happen.
So, before you do just about anything else or get ahead of yourself, you’re going to want to decide what products you’re going to sell and in what kind of niche or industry.
What You’re Going To Sell
This is probably going to be the most important part of this entire process, because without deciding on the products you’re going to sell, you can’t do much else! So you need to get thinking about what you should stock. Sometimes, this will be easy. You may already have something in mind, which sparked your idea to start an online store in the first instance. But if you haven’t and you’re open to suggestions, you should think about the profitable products that could work for you.
Who You’re Going To Sell It To
But that’s not all you need to do. Because choosing what you’re going to sell is just half of the battle. You then have to actually make sure that there is a market for the product. And the answer to this section shouldn’t just be yes, you actually have to define your target market and know exactly who you’re going to be selling to.
How You’re Going To Source Them
So now that you’re getting there, you’re going to want to get some of your plans a little more firmed up. Because knowing what you’re going to sell is great in theory, but you have to know that you can make it happen. You should find a supplier that either can be your wholesaler for the products, or supply you the parts that you need to create your products from scratch.
Then, you’re going to need to work on the actual store aspect of the business, which in this case will be your website.
As you start to set up your site, it’s essential that you think about creating the right look. This should ideally fit in with the brand vision you have for your business. That means that your color scheme should be the same as your brand across the board. But you also need to ensure that the design you come up with is easy for your customers to navigate. For this reason, it can be useful to work with a development company.
The Ecommerce Provider
But you also need to make sure that you choose the right ecommerce platform. This is another reason why it can be useful to work with an ecommerce provider, as they can talk you through your options and which may be best for your needs. They’re likely to have worked with many before, so should have some good insights. But you do have to make sure that you pick a provider that you’re going to find easy to use and work with.
At this point, you may also want to build a blog on your site. This can be great for your business for SEO reasons. This is something that can fall under your marketing, but as you’ll be pulling together your website design, it can be covered off here too. You need to build a section on your site that will let you to publish blog posts.
Closely related to setting up your website is working on your marketing. In fact, the last point about your blog, is very interlinked with how you’re going to market your store. So let’s look at what you can do.
Firstly, before you begin to market your business in any way at all, you’re going to want to come up with a suitable strategy. Because every effective kind of promotion will have a purpose. You need to come up with promotional goals and ensure that all of the activity you execute stays in line with achieving those goals.
As part of that strategy, you need to be thinking about the right platforms to work on. Because you will want to have a good social media presence. And to do that, you have to know which platforms will work best for you. To choose, you should be thinking about your audience and where they tend to interact, and you should discover where you need to be.
Then, you need to know exactly what you’re going to do with your marketing. Are you going to advertise or do any PR? What message will you use? How long will each campaign be? What results are you looking to get? It’s essential that you can plan out full promotional campaigns from conception to results.
You also need to know how you’re going to supply your products. This should factor not only into your business operations as a whole, but into your pricing too.
Where You’ll Store Stock
Okay, so let’s think about something much more practical. So you have the products that you want to sell — or you will do soon. But where are you going to store them? Whether you choose to use a warehousing company or you buy your own building, this is something that needs to be factored into your plan. The outcome of this can often determine your pricing strategy too, based on the overall cost.
How You’ll Get It To The Customer
And how are you planning on getting your products to your customer? You’re an online store, so you know that they can’t just come on in and buy from you then take the products away. Therefore, you have to arrange a delivery option for them. This is going to require you to negotiate a contract with the right deliver company. This too will affect your pricing and what you charge for delivery — as your rates need to be similar to your competitors and others in the industry to be competitive.
Will You Wholesale?
This leads us nicely on to our last distribution-based question, which is about wholesale. Because you’re going to want to consider the option of wholesaling your product. For clothing, places like ASOS or Nordstrom would be a great example of where you could sell. Or, do you just want your items to be available exclusively from you?
But you shouldn’t just be thinking about the things you need for right now, for getting set up. You also need to be thinking ahead. It’s essential that you can plan in your growth if you want to succeed.
So you’re pulling together this business plan now to get everything off the ground. But it’s not just something you should do once and forget about. Business planning can be the sole thing that pushes your growth forwards. Because when you’re trying to keep things on track, and you’re setting goals to chase, you have a way of holding yourself accountable for accomplishing things. And this can often help you to make sure you do continue to grow.
With that last point in mind, it’s going to help you to have a growth strategy. This is something that you could set in place now, so that you know what work you have to do, or once you’ve gotten everything else off of the ground. Either way, it can be the essential ingredient that will make sure the growth actually takes place.
The third and final kind of planning you should consider is financial forecasting. This is something that you will need to do now as part of your business plan, but it will help you to stay motivated to keep thing going too. Numbers aren’t easy to chase unless you have them in mind. You then need to formulate the figures backwards to find out what you need to sell in order to make that happen. Even if you’re not great with numbers, this can be incredibly motivating to help your store grow.
So, you’ve found your dream business and you’re ready to get started. You have all the skills you need to get going and your prospects for the future look bright. There’s only one thing standing in your way — money. The first year of business is renowned for being financially tough and many first-time business owners won’t take home much of a wage until the business is established. However, there are few ways you can save money during your first year if you’re on a tight budget. Here’s how you can do it.
As a new business, there will be plenty of things you need. You’ll need to make connections with suppliers, whether they’re supplying your products at cost price or just filling up your cabinets with stationery.
There will be a few businesses that are willing to barter if you have something you can offer in return. That way, you won’t be spending your profits on supplies, so you’ll have a much bigger budget for advertising and marketing. Here are another4 simple business methods to make your life easier.
In the first year of business, the last thing you need is to be paying out wages that are unnecessary. So, if you can do the job yourself instead of hiring someone else to do it, you’ll save yourself a lot of money. If you find you can’t do without the staff, consider advertising volunteer or apprentice positions.
That way, you keep your costs down and your staff gain valuable experience in the industry and what it takes to build a business from scratch. If you need to hire staff with specific skills, like graphic designers or content writers for your website, consider outsourcing the work instead of hiring a permanent member of staff.
That way, you’re only paying for services when you really need them.
Buy in Bulk
When you initially start a business, there will be lots of things you’ll need to use constantly, like paper andprinter ink. The last thing you want to find is that you’ve run out of these vital items while you’re trying to work. You can often save money by buying these items in bulk from warehouses and storing them away until they’re needed. In the long run, in makes more financial sense than buying items as and when you run out.
You don’t need a fancy office to start a business these days. In fact, most of the time all you need is a laptop and an internet connection. You can save a lot of money by opening an online business and there are often few start-up costs.
For example,becoming a freelance writer doesn’t require much financial input; just a lot of time and patience. By setting up a business online, you can work anywhere you want — from home, the local coffee shop, in a hotel room. Many WiFi connections are free, and you can often claim tax back on your home internet connection.
However you choose to save during your first year, you can be sure it will help your business to flourish.
Every 30 seconds, more than $1.2 million of transactions are made online in the United States. It’s fair to say that online shopping has become well and truly mainstream and this presents an excellent opportunity to you entrepreneurs out there.
If you have a good idea, a great product(s) to sell and you take the time to bone up on the best internet marketing techniques, you could set up an amazingly successful startup. However, if you want to stay on the right side of the law, there are a few things you will need to be aware of.
Transactions Should be Simple
If you don’t want to get on the wrong side of the law with your new venture, you need to ensure that your transactions are as simple as possible. When a customer makes an order on your website, you will need to supply their goods within the timeframe stipulated. Of course, there can always be issues with carriers, but for the main part, you should deliver, and you should not be tempted to shave a few days off your delivery times if you want to keep customers happy.
Terms and Conditions Should be Included
You should always, preferably with the help of a good business lawyer from a law firm that specializes in this stuff, create comprehensive terms and conditions for your ecommerce site, Your terms and conditions should make it clear to your customers that when they make a purchase, they are agreeing to enter into a contract with you.
You should also lay out details of your shipping, payment and refunds policy, as well as any pertinent liability information for your company. You will need to ensure that these terms comply with the law in your business’ jurisdiction if you want to avoid any issues.
You should never, even for one second, think about ‘bigging up’ your products and services, telling what you consider to be little white lies to make more sales. Some customers might be fooled, but many won’t, and you could find yourself at the center of a fraud suit!
Offer a Cooling Off Period
If your business is based in the UK or Europe, then distance selling regulations stipulate that you must give your customers a 30-day cooling off period in which they can return any goods no questions asked. Obviously, if you aren’t doing business in these markets, this won’t apply, and many other markets are a lot more lenient in this respect, but you still need to find out what, if anything is required of you.
Even if you aren’t legally compelled to offer a cooling off period, it is a good gesture to make, which shows your customers that you are a kind, caring and legitimate company, so it’s worth considering.
If you want to stay on the right side of the law, it’s always best not to spam random people with your marketing emails. You should endeavor to only ever contact people who have agreed to be contacted just to be on the safe side. Behaving ethically will also help to boost your brand image.
When it comes to staying on the right side of the law in the ecommerce industry, this post has only scratched the surface, and highly recommend that you do lots of research and seek expert advice before proceeding. Good luck!