E-commerce is everywhere nowadays. Online retailers are constantly bombarding you with their presence in an effort to sell their products — so much that it may seem like any e-commerce shop is destined for success simply by existing and running ads. But in the grand scheme of things, making it as an e-commerce business owner is increasingly difficult.
While some studies have reported that an e-commerce business has at least a staggering 80% fail rate, some speculate that it may be as high as 97%. Other studies found that simple logistical issues, such as return policies and contact information, which can easily be resolved on the company’s end, lead to the demise of many e-commerce websites.
So, how do you know what and what not to do regarding your e-commerce platform? At my company, it was no easy task, but I’ve gained valuable insight over the years that I’m happy to share with any entrepreneurs launching their own e-commerce businesses.
Know your customer before moving forward
Seems simple, right? Knowing your customer is absolutely essential to the foundation of starting, or expanding, your e-commerce business. Online retail is everywhere, and you will most definitely come up against other businesses targeting either the same or similar demographics to your own business.
That just comes with the e-commerce territory — competition is abundant and unavoidable. But in the midst of all this, know who you are providing products for and how they will benefit from your products. One of our best strengths at my company has been understanding exactly who our target consumer was from the very beginning.
Because of this, we can cater products to them, communicate with them and reach them in the best ways possible. Social media is a great tool to enable you to directly dialogue with your audience. I advise talking to your customers, asking them for feedback and what they’d like to see, and directly incorporating their input into your work.
Leverage the power of social media
People of all ages across all industries use social media, which makes it more vital than ever to ensure your online presence is known. Social media engagement can have a profound impact on the growth of your business. Our company generated $50 million in our first four years of business, due in large part by our consistent and genuine social media engagement with our audience.
Whether your business is big or small, utilize the power of social media to launch marketing campaigns, raise awareness and, eventually, generate sales. Loyal followers through social media frequently become loyal customers, so the more you engage with your followers, the better relationships you can create with them for the future.
Ask your customers to show how they’re using your products. Host contests and giveaways. Highlight your newest launches. And partner with influencers to get your products in front of even greater audiences.
Spotlight your customers
This next anecdote of advice falls hand in hand with No. 2. Shine a spotlight on your customers. Using social media, you can create strong, meaningful marketing campaigns, but getting your audience in on the action takes it a step further.
#Repost and #regram images of your consumers using and wearing your goods. That 15 minutes of fame for the customer is bound to make a lasting impression and keep the social media promotions coming in the future. And, of course, daily, weekly and monthly giveaways never hurt — remember to highlight the winners of the giveaways on your social media platforms as well.
Put systems in place before you need them
You can forecast and plan ahead as much as you want, but there’s no telling if your business is going to blow up overnight. While this is every entrepreneur’s dream, it can also be your worst nightmare if you do not have the necessary precautions in place to manage it.
Strong inventory management is essential if you’re a retail business. But no matter what sector your work is in, having organized operations systems in place from the start will help you drive efficiency while effectively scaling your company the right way from the start.
The best way to start can be to create your own internal systems, leveraging a simple Excel chart and sticking to it. As your company grows, you’ll want to bring in outside expertise and technology to help you reach the next level — but don’t wait too long to do it.
Think ahead, but think realistically. Online retail is always changing, so being prepared to roll with the punches is the name of the game. While it’s important to be in the present, watching your day-to-day deliverables and looking ahead both short-term and long-term will help you ensure that your business is on the right track.
Do you have a goal for your first year? What about after that? What are the major milestones you’re seeking to achieve? How do you plan to reach them? Dedicating time to think about these topics is so important. It’s easy to get caught in the weeds, but staying big picture is vital for any entrepreneur leading a business.
There’s no question that the e-commerce business is booming. In fact, research from eMarketer predicts global retail e-commerce will reach $3.563 trillion this year. While starting an e-commerce website is no easy task, opportunity abounds, and with a thoughtful approach, many of the mistakes that cause websites to fail can be avoided. Read Advance Consumer Behaviour.