With the recent explosion of demand for online shopping, the future of online business looks incredibly promising. Many people are eager to start their own eCommerce business, but getting off the ground is a lot of hard work. From the first inspiration to the first sale, there are many steps and decisions that need to be executed in order the break away from the crowd. Luckily, having an outline laid out can help to organize new entrepreneurs and set them on the path to success.
Finding a Product
Before a new online merchant can even consider their new customer’s ecommerce experience, they have to decide what it is they are going to sell. This is often the most challenging part of starting a business, as there are seemingly infinite possibilities. There are several strategies one can employ for inspiration.
A product might be a solution to a common consumer problem, or it might appeal to a passionate group that the business owner has identified. Along those lines, a business owner may decide to center their business on a particular passion of their own, which can be helpful down the line in helping them to motivate themselves or overcome obstacles. Once inspiration has been found, it is important to evaluate how well the product will sell.
Finding a Supplier
After finding a strong product idea, the next step is to find a way to create the product. Finding a manufacturer can be a difficult process, as a good fit is not always easy to find. Having a supply partner that aligns with the goals of the new online business is a crucial beginning step, so having patience and perseverance in the search will pay off in the end.
Researching the Competition
Even in an emerging market, one major obstacle for new businesses is overcoming competition. It is necessary to evaluate a potential business’s competitive edge to ensure that its business model will be successful. Doing a SWOT analysis helps to look at a business from a broad perspective. SWOT stands for “Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats” and it helps businesses examine their potential with regard to standing out from the crowd, venturing into new markets, and achieving their objectives.
Writing a Business Plan
Although it is tempting to dive headfirst into the execution of a new business, moving forward without a plan can be harmful in the long run. Writing a business plan can help to evaluate existing ideas, understand the necessary next steps, and define goals and strategies. There are plenty of available templates for business owners to use to help structure their plan, but the most important elements to include are a description of the business, market and competition analyses, and marketing, logistics, and financial plans. Writing out all of these elements helps to solidify ideas, as well as highlight any problems, inconsistencies, or gaps which can then be remedied.
Creating a Name and Logo
Another challenging, but potentially fun task is to decide on a name for a new brand. It is a creative process that will take a lot of brainstorming. One way to find inspiration is to look at the existing competition, both to determine what is already taken, but also to spark new ideas. Friends, family, and employees can also be helpful in the brainstorming process.
Once a brand name has been chosen, carefully consider a domain name as well, making it short, brandable, and memorable. The same goes for a possibe logo, taking into consideration what it says about brand identity. These will be the things customers remember about the eCommerce store.
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization and it is one of the most important aspects in attracting new customers to an eCommerce site. It can be hard to understand the constantly changing algorithms of sites like Google, but ranking higher on search results can improve site traffic immensely. Identifying and choosing the correct keywords to direct potential customers to a site requires a lot of research and analysis. Once they have been pinpointed, they can be incorporated into the webpage to up a sites ranking on search results. SEO is a complex subject that will require further research to make the most of it in the structure of the site and pages.
Building a Store
Another crucial step is to actually build the site for the store. Building a successful ecommerce site requires nailing down many different elements, from the graphic design to the basic structure to the coding. The most important thing to ensure success is to have proper product pages.
These should ideally be simple, with enough information to tell the customer what they want to know, but without overwhelming them with an overabundance of detail or fluff. Clear call-to-action for purchase, attractive product photography, and the right amount of product details will ensure customers are able to find and purchase with ease, and a strong brand identity will bolster an online store’s legitimacy. Incorporate your store with a price calculator to automate your sales and improve conversions.
Marketing the Store
Once the store is launched, some of the hardest work begins. Marketing is a huge challenge, and it will take time and focus to win the first customer. The most essential step is to drive traffic to the site.
Some tactics may include offering a discount code or utilizing personal networks to spread the word. If a business has a specific audience, joining online communities related to the product may be a good place to create buzz. Although paid advertising requires some investment, it is one of the most effective ways to increase traffic to a site.
The Plan is Only the Beginning
Although a challenging and involved process, creating an online business is exciting and rewarding as well. The most essential keys to getting a business off the ground are to remain organized but flexible and to have a strong resolve in the face of obstacles. The most successful entrepreneurs see hurdles as challenges to overcome rather than reasons to give up. Having a roadmap is a useful tool when getting started, but the real skill comes in the problem solving and surmounting of adversities that are yet to come.