E-commerce has been getting a lot of attention in recent years, and with good reason. There are countless entrepreneurs who have used the business model to make good money while simultaneously meeting growing customer demand. Getting an e-commerce business off the ground can be extremely challenging, though. Read on to find some helpful tips for how to get that new business off the ground and ready to scale up.
Hire an E-Commerce Consultant
By far the best thing entrepreneurs can do to kick-start their new businesses or address declining sales in an existing e-commerce store is to hire a specialized consultant. What works for brick-and-mortar stores won’t necessarily work for the e-commerce business model, though, so finding the right consultant is key. Companies like Sharp Commerce focus exclusively on providing services to online business owners. Their consultants know the ins and outs of the industry and can help entrepreneurs with everything from choosing the right shipping model to finding effective ways to advertise their goods to help the store stand out from the crowd.
Don’t Rush the Launch
It takes some time and a lot of work to get a new e-commerce storefront up and running. Rushing the launch will only place unnecessary strain on business owners and increase the chances the website will have serious functionality or design issues that drive potential customers away. Entrepreneurs only get one shot at a perfect launch, so they can’t mess it up. Don’t launch the website until after all the groundwork for success in place.
Think like a Customer
The most obvious shortcoming of e-commerce storefronts is that business owners can’t let customers see the products firsthand before they make purchasing decisions. There’s no direct solution to this problem as of yet, but entrepreneurs can take a few steps to compensate. Try to think like a customer and determine what aspects of his or her online shopping experience will matter the most.
Today’s online shoppers expect competitive pricing and free shipping for large purchases, so those steps are no-brainers. What some business owners underestimate is how much of a difference a seamless checkout process makes when it comes to customer satisfaction and brand reputation. Customers who are forced to jump through hoops to make their purchases are much less likely to follow through, so offer plenty of payment options and try to make the checkout process as simple as possible.
Before launching a new e-commerce building, take the time to test everything. That involves specialized data testing and analytics processes like A/B testing. While there are some online tools available to business owners who want to take control over the testing process for themselves, it’s usually better to work with a company that has experience with A/B testing and other forms of data analytics.
Cross-Target Potential Customers
Both social media marketing and email campaigns are great ways to draw in new customers, guide them through the company’s sales funnel, and turn them into loyal brand enthusiasts. Intertwining social media and email campaigns can increase conversion rates even more. That means using techniques like retargeting Facebook ads allow consumers to familiarize themselves with the company, sign up for email alerts, and get more users involved.
Set up a Sales Funnel
It’s equally important to maximize email campaigns for improved conversion rates. Ideally, these email campaigns should be part of a wider approach to building sales funnels and ensure that potential customers follow them.
A sales funnel is a multi-step marketing campaign that is optimized to turn casual browsers into buyers. It might start with social media or other more-conventional lead generation techniques, but successful sales funnels always include targeted email campaigns. It can take weeks to navigate a potential customer through the company’s sales funnel, but it’s worth the effort.
Find a Unique Audience
Every business has a target audience, and e-commerce storefronts are no different. Figure out who the ideal customer is and sell to that person instead of trying to attract attention from consumers who will never be interested in the store.
Operating within a well-defined niche allows e-commerce store owners to lower their advertising costs and provide a better on-site user experience. Every consumer group is different, so design, functionality, and marketing efforts that perform well with some demographics will do poorly with others. Knowing what will work and what won’t is the key to getting the company off the ground without winding up in debt.
As the e-commerce store starts to generate more organic attention, it’s fine to start branching out. There are usually multiple demographics interested in buying the same products. Only expand the company’s online marketing reach to target these wider audiences after the current marketing strategy has become solvent.
Pay attention to changes in the industry. Don’t stop there, though. E-commerce business owners also need to pay attention to changes in the consumer reception of their own advertising campaigns. Check ad metrics throughout the day, and take the time to optimize the ones that aren’t performing as well as they should be.
Keeping track of each individual ad’s performance metrics may sound like a lot of work because it is, but doing so offers great rewards. It will show business owners what approaches are working and which ones aren’t so they don’t waste money on marketing campaigns that are unlikely to lead to increased customer conversions. Tracking can also help entrepreneurs better understand their target audiences.
The Bottom Line
Most e-commerce business owners don’t start out with much working capital, and that’s just fine. The overhead associated with operating an e-commerce storefront, especially one that uses drop shipping, is usually pretty low at first. It’s worth spending the money on things like e-commerce consultants, marketing help, and design services early on, though. These services can all help entrepreneurs ensure that their storefronts stand out in a competitive landscape and have what it takes to grow into successful, scalable companies, which is the ultimate goal of any e-commerce business owner.