Freedom and the desire to erect an institution that could embellish the self esteem and add value to society has lured countless people to dare this venture (of course there is another cohort who purely takes this challenge seeking monetary benefits).
There are countless entrepreneurs who have overwhelmed the populations with their unique business ideas.
Entrepreneurs like Jack Ma, Elon Musk, and Sophia Amorous, has inspired an entire generation with their creative business models.
In this article we will discuss few key points that are necessary to look into when you aim to start an e-commerce business.
What Entrepreneurship Means in the Startup Ecosystem
The subtle reference will be a Trestle. Supporting the whole operations and managing a diverse team.
Entrepreneurship is built around a firm belief that in near future the idea is going to pick up.
In the startup ecosystem, an entrepreneur will be forced to wear multiple hats. Be it the innovative founder to the sales wizard who chases the prospects for a slot.
Huzzle, work around the clock, cling to an idea when the whole world rise against it (have a strong reason for the same), flatter yourself to an omnipotent so that the team could draw inspiration from you, manage the scarce resource sagaciously, so on goes the challenges.
Running a startup is a serious pursuit, and if you are passionate about the venture then you will definitely enjoy the ride.
The initial milestones (a domain that you desire, a website to list your products, etc) may keep you excited and flatter upon the victories.
So, at times when your ego is at bloom and when you adore those victories, recall the reality, it’s a just the start. You have got a lot of ground to cover.
In simple words, setting up an e-commerce store is simple. At the same time, it takes a lot of commitment and hard work to convert it into a revenue model.
If you are venturing into the e-commerce world mesmerizing the sheer success displayed by a plethora of e-commerce entities then, let me remind you.
All those digital ventures have to traverse through a lot of hardships and setbacks to triumph.
At times when the situation demands, an entrepreneur would have to drift through the dark shady side of the business never allowing lethargy to creep in and compromise the pursuit.
Prerequisites to Set up an eCommerce Business
To start an e-commerce business you need to believe in the idea, the products, and the niche market you are planning to penetrate.
E-commerce business has gained a lot of momentum in recent years. The most fascinating part about virtual commerce is that it dramatically forced business to rethink and redefine their business strategies (fast tweaking them to meet the market demand).
Most online entities are in the wake of creating a holistic marketing strategy for their customers.
Once the market started to pick up and opened a corridor of opportunities, so does invited immense challenges.
Stories were written about drop shippers, and e-commerce stores that are making huge sales a year have lured a great no: of people to try this retail model.
In most cases the initial rush force these newbie entrepreneurs to invest huge sums on tools and templates that are way up their league.
Needless to say, few end up hiring a professional web developer to create an online store.
Wait! Before you leap, explore the opportunities that are available.
Understand the Requirement
Most entrepreneurs fail to deduce their requirements. Opting a platform that offers you a plethora of features is not the best choice.
You need to understand what are the key features required to manage and efficiently run an e-commerce business.
This won’t be a challenge as there are lots of pre-built e-commerce platforms providers out there competing rationally to get the customer’s attention.
Why not try few platforms and decide which one benefits you the most. Few pre-build platforms you could try out, Shopify, Shopnix, BigCommerce, Weebly, etc.
An E-commerce Store is More than a Platform to List your Products
Your e-commerce store is your digital identity. That being said, it’s important that you forge a unique personality for your digital venture.
None of your customers wants to settle down with a quotidian experience.
Your online store should deliver the best possible customer experience. And where do you think it starts?
With your digital store.
How do you expect people to perceive your brand if they are not convenient to navigate and interact with the platform?
For example, the platform’s user interface is too confusing or the store is not designed with a customer oriented strategy.
With increasing digital penetration and a plethora of alternates to look into, the customer attention span has dwindled on a large scale.
Don’t let your platform reflect a negative influence on the solid leads that lands on your online store. Consider your target audience when designing your virtual store.
For eg: The theme/ design for an online apparel store featuring kids products differs from an online store that sells pre-owned luxury handbags.
In the case of an online boutique selling baby products the target customers (parents > mothers) are pretty concerned about the quality of the products.
On the other hand for a pre-owned apparel store, the challenge will be to reflect the authenticity of the product they sell.
The customers are pretty much worried whether its a genuine product (a pre-owned Louis Vuitton handbag can still cost your INR 50,000) or a first copy.
As an e-commerce entrepreneur, you need to have a solid plan to address the issue.
That too, if you are into the premium luxury business there is a minimum customer experience the target demography expects.
Make sure that your virtual store is ready to meet their expectation.
Top Pre-built e-Commerce Platforms to Start With
Like I mentioned before there are numerous pre-built e-commerce platform providers that allows you to start an online venture with a simple signup.
Almost all of these platforms are created around a customer centric strategy. Making it a simple task.
Anyone with the least knowledge of digital technologies will find it easy breezy. Let me take you on a ride;
Shopnix Pricing Plans
- Quicky:- INR 1000/ month (USD 14*)
- Standard:- INR 2000/ month (USD 28*)
- Pro:- INR 5000/ month (USD 71*)
- Premium:- INR 10,000/ month (USD 143*)
Shopify Pricing Plans
- Basic Shopify:- USD 29/ month
- Shopify:- USD 79/ month
- Advanced Shopify:- USD299/ month
KartRocket Pricing Plans
- Essential Plan:- INR 3500/ month (USD 50*)
- Premium Plan:- INR 7000/ month (USD 100*)
- Platinum Plan:- INR 12,000/ month (USD 171*)
Weebly Pricing Plan
- Starter Plan:- USD 8/ month
- Pro:- USD 12/ month
- Business:- USD 25/ month
- Performance:- USD 38/ month
Volusion Pricing Plans
- Personal:- USD 29/ month
- Professional:- USD 79/ month
- Business:- USD 299/ month
Top Strategies to Commercialise your Business
It should be of paramount interest that you set aside a crystal strategy to commercialise your business.
In a fast paced consumer-driven market you need to make sure that your business is positioned as close as you can.
The rewarding part of an e-Commerce/ virtual business is that you will be able to find a customer for every product catalogued.
At the same time how well you synergize and create a compelling marketing strategy could determine the success and failure of your business.
SEO (Search Engine Optimization)
SEO, Search Engine optimization is regarded as one of the most effective inbound strategies to commercialise a business.
If you have dabbled into the world of digital marketing then you would have realized the importance of SEO.
Primarily, search engine optimization is carried out to make sure that a website/ webpages follow a set of standard guidelines.
For eg, through SEO a digital marketer will be able to optimize the website to follow the guidelines stipulated by the search engine (say Google for eg).
Schema.org will be a fine example.
Schema.org enables a business to represent its relevance on SEPR by helping the search engine to understand the meaning behind an entity.
Schema.org includes structured data markups that allow the search crawlers to vividly understand what the website/ webpage is all about.
As an e-Commerce business entity, it’s important that you optimize all pages of your online store. Even the product pages.
There is a high chance that your product pages can rank on SERP for specific product related keywords “eg; Louis Vuitton Speedy 35 Vintage – Brown Leather Bag”.
By implementing the right SEO strategy you will get an opportunity to drive relevant organic traffic to your online store.
As an entrepreneur/ marketer you need to make sure that you are following the right SEO strategies rather follow the crowd and implementing torpid methodologies.
SEO has evolved over time. So it’s important that you keep a close eye on Google updates. Follow the best practices and try incorporating those.
Consider Google, As the leading search engine provider, Google needs to make sure that service enables people to get the best possible results.
Customer experience is placed at the centre. Every link that ranks on SERP should help add value to the reader.
So when you create a web page make sure that the page offers a unique value/ solution to the search query it ranks.
Social Media Marketing (SMM)
As an e-Commerce business, you need to make sure that enough attention is given to this channel. Social channels like Facebook has permuted to an online marketplace.
Stats published on Statista.com clearly indicates that the time spent by global internet users in social media has increased.
As of 2017, the average time spent on social media is 135 minutes per day.
The figure may look alarming. But from a digital marketers perspective, it’s quite a significant number. A platform where people interact and engage frequently.
There are countless e-Commerce entities that have leveraged this channel to build a successful digital venture.
Social media has opened a creative channel for entrepreneurs to socialize, interact, engage and build a strong relationship with their target customers.
As an e-Commerce startup, I would recommend you to start with two social channels instead of starting off with a spree (you can always expand over time).
That gives you an opportunity to understand the platform and then create a strategy that best suits the audience who engages on the platform.
Most people pursue social media as a channel to throw stuff in (whether its posts, comments, shares, etc) and expect a return.
Caution. Don’t fall for the boobytrap.
Social channels should not be portrayed as a broadcasting channel. This congested mindset could harm you more than it benefits your digital entity.
Think about it this way.
How annoying will it be if you open your social media every time and realize that there is a torrent of notifications/ posts from a business entity?
Instead, what if you were able to build a relationship with the audience and then promote your business entity. Now you see the difference. Isn’t it.
Brand Personality Across Social Profiles
As an institution it’s utmost important that you are consistent with what you stand for and what you offer.
You need to reflect a sense of credence and reliability among people.
If you are not consistent with your brand personality then it could question the reliability of the business.
Make the Best Out of the Platform
Invest the right time to set up a Facebook account. Make sure that you start by selecting the right theme for your online store.
Facebook > Templates & Tabs > Current Template > Shopping (Select the right theme that fits your expectation)
Also, create a Facebook shop and list your products on the social platform.
Similar to it, inspect all social platforms to identify how it can be used effectively commercialize your business/ products.
Paid campaigns are widely used by e-commerce businesses to promote their products.
Paid campaigns like Google Ads and Facebook campaigns have gained their places in the marketing hierarchy.
The best advantage of paid campaigns is that they help drive instant results.
Paid campaigns with Google Ads will give you an opportunity to push your e-commerce store to rank high on SERP.
To the least till you decide to stop investing in paid campaigns.
As Google has become the one stop destination for all your queries, positioning your business on this channel could help you build a strong identity.
Hope you do remember the place where we used the term “Keyword Matrix”. It’s time we bring it back to the light.
Review the keyword matrix and find keywords that you feel could bring revenue to your business. When selecting keywords you need to make sure to consider all factors.
Few factors being, the keywords context and intent, bid value, search volume, etc. This disciplined model will help you decide upon the keywords than to just select a few based on a hunch.
If not designed properly, paid campaigns can be extremely costly. Resulting the investment to skyrocket.
Google ads also give you a powerful option to retarget and promote your business among people who have visited your online store or has shown interest with what you offer.
It’s not that every customer will make a purchase decision on their first visit.
As a newbie business it’s a challenge to convince the customer at first and entice them to draw the pay check.
Push campaigns have wide applications in e-commerce business. Online businesses have widely used this channel to build and maintain a strong relationship with customers.
Few great channels for push campaigns are Email, WhatsApp, SMS. While planning to start an e-commerce business this is one opportunity you could look into.
Emails are one effective channel when delivering the results with the least investment possible.
For eg: Consider that you are planning to start a discount sale. In that case, you will be able to make use of these channels to reach out to the customer and inform them about the promotional activity.
Draft a drip campaign to remind the customer detailing the benefit the user will get and why it needs to be availed at the earliest possible.
Nishant is a digital marketer by profession and blogger by passion. Nishant takes pride when it appears, that his online expeditions are adding value to people, and delighted when it touches people’s lives and help them build a career. Nishant thrives to stay update on topics related to the digital marketing, and technologies that are revolutionizing the world. Inbound marketing is one of Nishant’s forte.