Many aspiring entrepreneurs possess a desire to build a business that will eventually allow them to live their best lives. Needless to say, it takes a lot of work to successfully launch a website that will grow and prosper long-term. So, once you decide what type of business you want to launch, keeping in mind that the possibilities are endless, you’ll want to consider objectively looking at the subcategories we’ve highlighted below.
Brands have more opportunities than ever before to thrive and grow in a world where so many purchases are carried out online. It’s no surprise that businesses are shifting, if not starting, with eCommerce stores, rather than the outdated brick-and-mortar models. Needless to say, the future of eCommerce is promising and so is the flexibility to be your boss. With so many entrepreneurs springing forth at the chance to create influential products and services, it can be daunting to compete in with those who’re already established online. But, don’t let that thought stop you! If you want to know more about how to start a successful eCommerce business, you’ve come to the right blog.
SELECT THE RIGHT PRODUCTS
Whether you’ve discovered a need within society and found a way to fill that demand with an item of your creation or you simply want to take an existing product and make it bigger and better, it’s essential to start your eCommerce journey with a hot-selling commodity. So, how do you select the right product?
- Follow your passion: It’s always a great idea to breathe life into a business that interests you, so if you’re an avid motor enthusiast or perhaps an animal lover, your successful eCommerce investment could lie in your favorite hobbies or personal experiences. After all, since you already possess the knowledge, it’s a lot easier more enjoyable to build a prosperous venture using that idea.
- Look for trends: If you’re striving to be a business owner and are still on the hunt for a little inspiration, have a look at products and services that are trending. Finding out what people search for on Google, or even which items are moving up to a prominent place on Amazon users’ wish lists, will help you to spark an idea for a business.
- Simplify a task: One of the best-selling points that could skyrocket your business strategy is creating a product that makes life a little easier. Isn’t everyone always looking for ways to further simplify their lives? This means that instead of coming up with a wide lineup of items to sell, start by only offering one or two products using a direct-to-consumer model to make their shopping processed speedily by limiting choice and cutting out the grueling interactions with salespeople.
SELECT YOUR BUSINESS MODEL
A key element of a successful eCommerce business is determining which model works best for the idea and resources that you have available.
- Dropshipping:This eCommerce fulfillment method is a great option for those who don’t have the storage space to hold their inventory. How it works is when an order comes in, the retailer transfers the customer’s details and shipping information to a third party, such as the manufacturer or wholesaler, and then that company will ship the products to the customers. This is a great model for those who want to sell niche products on their website but don’t want the hassle of handling the shipment process.
- Wholesale: This eCommerce fulfillment method will require some money to get off the ground and running because the business owner will have to purchase and manage their inventory of products. So, on top of managing the company, you’ll be responsible for storing the inventory, packaging and shipping products, and finally, tracking the orders to ensure they reach the customers.
- Private Labeling: If you’re one of many that possess a great idea for a new product, but you don’t have the resources to manufacture it, you simply find a manufacturer to create the product for you. Once your products are ready, they will then be shipped to you, or directly to your consumer.
- White Labeling: This type of business model allows you to select a product that’s already being sold by another company, but you will re-brand it and make it something personal.
- Subscription: It’s common nowadays for businesses to follow the subscription-based model and send customers a monthly box (or set interval) of selected products. This model is great to ensure you have ongoing conversions and keep happy, long-standing customers.
WHAT TYPE OF RESEARCH DO YOU DO BEFORE LAUNCH YOUR STORE?
Cool, you’ve got a great idea and have committed to one of the above business models, now you need to do some research before you contact an eCommerce development company to start working on a thought-provoking design.
- Check out the competition. It may motivate you to find a different angle to separate your products and services from the rivalry.
- Select your marketplace. While a self-hosted store is always the best option, don’t be afraid to branch out to options like Amazon or eBay.
- Pick a crafty business name. Your brand’s identity will depend on it.
- Take the time to drive into a well-developed business plan and highlight your strategy, identify any roadblocks and prioritize tasks to help you launch and grow your successful eCommerce business.
- Brainstorm with a professional graphic designer and come up with a logo design that stands out!
When you’re first starting out as an e-commerce business owner it’s important to lock in a fulfillment method that works for your business. Essentially, everything coordinates through the network of a supply channel that’s activated when a purchase has been made on your site, so, while this distribution method is decided upon by the business owner, there are elements to consider if you hope to effectively manage your supply chain.
Supply chain management focuses on a range of activities that are needed to plan, coordinate, schedule and control the production and delivery of products to the customer. While it’s the backbone of e-commerce, it’s also a crucial part that contributes to the growth of the business, which means that its efficiency ensures cost reduction and an enhanced experience for the purchaser.
“Selecting a supplier can be difficult and anyone that’s new to business without a pre-existing supply chain needs to be careful when putting faith in a supplier given that the success of the business may rest on this one aspect alone,” said Feargal Harris, Client Success Manager with Numinix Web Development Inc.
So, how does supply chain management work, you ask?
Suppliers > Procurement > Production > Delivery > Customers
Before you can decide how you will orchestrate your supply chain strategy, you much first understand how it’s managed. For starters, you must decide where the source of your products will come from. This means that you will need to outsource them from a manufacturer or make them yourself. Then you must decide the fulfillment method. Will you order your items in bulk and store them away as inventory or will you drop ship the customer’s order and seek fulfillment from another company, relying on them to ship the product out on your behalf?
There’s no one-size-fits-all strategy and depending on what you want to achieve with your business, you will need to ask yourself what business model works best for you. There are factors you will need to consider such as how much time you have, if you have the physical space for inventory storage, if you want to take charge of the packaging and shipping, and how much your volume of sales is? Once you’ve answered these questions, you’ll be fit to decide your supplier sourcing, whether it consists of using local retailers, directly sourcing from large-scale manufacturers or following the drop shipping model that we explained.
“This is where a risk assessment will make a lot of sense. You’ll need to evaluate the risk of fronting the cost of goods, so you can distribute yourself in a timely manner, against relying on a supplier with a pre-existing distribution network. There is also a higher margin to be made when stocking your own inventory and fulfilling orders yourself. Just find out if the risk outweighs the reward to you or vice versa,” he explained.
Only business owners who aren’t interested in growing their brand neglect to invest in an alluring, e-commerce website. After all, most consumers expect a digital-savvy way to shop around and it provides a safe space for them to read testimonials, navigate the descriptions of your products and compare prices between similar items. So, while a website gives business owners a way to influence public perceptions, it also increases conversions and allows them to showcase why they’re the best of the best.
If you’re relying on this blog to tell you how to run a successful eCommerce business, simply keep in mind that no website is ever complete without professional design and development must-haves. However, the bare basics that a business owner must decide upon is which e-commerce platform to use and how much they want to spend.
“You can get set up online quite easily with eCommerce platforms like WordPress or Shopify, but you’ll usually only succeed if you stand out from the crowd. Unless of course, you have the best idea in the most niche field, then you’re laughing,” noted Harris.
“I’d expect a company with an existing store and a good customer base to spend around $7-10k for a well-designed website that will entice their customers online and open them up to a whole new market. You could then spend up to $5k per month adding new features and doing basic marketing to ensure the long-term profitability of the site as long as you are in the right hands.”
After the above decisions are made, you move forward to the design stage where you’ll have an opportunity to bring your dreams and desires to the table. Keep in mind that while your website should align with your industry standards, Numinix’s team of designers are happy to break the mold and find a comfort level that suits your budget and brings your business ideas to life.
Nevertheless, rest assured that innovative, development plugins are just as important as your web design. So, whether you’re excited to learn more about the advantages of an SEO plugin, a speed optimization plugin or some profitable Google Shopping plugins, you’ll be even more surprised to learn just how well these investments do in offering business owners a generous return.
If you’re perplexed about e-commerce shipping it’s always best to tackle this important feature head-on to find a strategy that works for your online store. That being said, keep in mind that in terms of shipping functionality, less is always more.
Customers enjoy a simplistic shipping experience because they want the best bang for their buck. This means that just because there’s a range of options that are available at your fingertips, doesn’t mean that you need to waste the time and money developing something that may end up frustrating your clientele. This means that you will want to invest in a plugin that easily calculates shipping costs and makes checkout a breeze so that customers are free to proceed seamlessly, without wondering what their desired products will cost them. Also, consider raising the bar by offering options for a quick order fulfillment!
“The best way to manage the customer’s expectations in this regard is to give them the options to receive the best shipping methods you can offer. All major companies like FedEx, UPS, USPS, etc. have plugins for most major platforms that will return live rates to the customer in the cart before they checkout out. You can offer the Next Day Delivery by FedEx, but the customer will have to pay for it. This puts the onus back on them, and they can decide for themselves what shipping they are comfortable with,” he said.
While this is a no-brainer, marketing is the most important thing that can assure your business maintains a long-lasting relationship among your niche audience. So, since there’s no one-time way to advertise your products and services, consider an ongoing, engaging strategy to help your online business flourish.
There’s a range of digital marketing efforts that each serve their purpose and presence in your company’s growth cycle, however, search engine optimization, pay-per-click advertising, email marketing, blogging, and social media marketing all come with varied opportunities to offer a return on investment. Although all of the above marketing efforts can be done in-house, it’s essential to invest in a professional agency that will be dedicated to your marketing needs.
“You know when you ask for something to be done, that it will be done to the best of the ability of the person specializing in that field. What more could you want?” explained Harris.
So, whether you’re looking at how to run a successful e-commerce business short-term or long-term, it’s important to consider marketing as a way to sustain your online business objectives and build up a degree of trust with your customers.
While it’s no secret to e-commerce owners that customer service is one of the backbones of their business, what they likely don’t know is that it could cost way more for them to start attracting new customers, rather than retaining the relationship that they currently have with existing customers. In turn, providing excellent customer service translates to increased sales and profits and with so many exceptional ways to provide customer service online, there’s really no reason your business shouldn’t be on-board.
“eCommerce businesses can thrive and fail by their customer service,” explained Feargal Harris, Client Success Manager at Numinix.
“As online shoppers have reviews at their fingertips, and some may have already made the decision to trust you before they’ve even made it to your site. It’s important to champion your customer service efforts and make sure you have a lot of happy customers who will, in turn, promote your business, products, and brand.
While different businesses possess a variety of expectations when it comes to customer service, popular, high-purchased brands have promised and orchestrated a higher degree of service among the consumer population, so it’s essential as a business owner to align with these retailers and manage your consumers’ expectations in the same way that they would receive from these large-scale brands.
“Informing your customers and managing their expectations is important,” added Harris.
“Preemptive measures, like announcing delays or flagging products on backorders can help with this, as well as having a range of shipping options to allow the customer a choice in what service level they wish to receive.”
Search Engine Optimization
Online users trust search engines to give them the best search results using the keywords that they have provided, which is why this technology is important to utilize on your eCommerce site.
“Practicing good SEO is extremely important because it directly affects where you show up in search results. Great SEO will have you at the top on the front page, where the click-through rate is 31%, meaning three out of 10 people will click on to your site. Whereas having bad or no SEO will leave you so far back that people don’t even know you exist.”
“SEO is a no brainer for eCommerce websites. Information is at our fingertips and whether we’re looking for a restaurant or a new hat, we’ll whip out our phones and use a search engine to find what we’re looking for.”
The main problem with search engine optimization is that it involves a lot of skills, which is why most companies opt to outsource the service, so that they’re able to achieve the same benefits as other growing businesses. Nevertheless, since SEO implementation takes years to master, it’s essential to select a company that complements your business and specializes in an expertise that gets you where you need to be, and beyond.
If you’re a business owner who’s invested in fulfilling the needs of your customers then you can devote both time and money to providing a positive user experience (UX). With so many options available for our online shopping needs, if you’re looking for a consumer base with a sense of loyalty to your brand and products, then you will need to measure your business success by the user experience you can provide for both visitors and returning customers.
“There’s a science behind UX and small changes that aren’t obvious to the naked eye can make a significant difference to the conversion rate of your website,” noted Harris.
For starters, you need to ensure that your current website meets the design standards of your niche industry, keeping in mind that these can change daily, meaning that your website should receive a redesign every three to five years.
“If your design hasn’t changed for more than five years, it’s likely hurting your sales by having a bad or outdated user experience,” he explained.
Also, many businesses focus their home page efforts on advertising their highest performing products, so it makes it easy to add them to the cart and quickly proceed to checkout.
“As well as you’re ensuring the page is not cluttered… make sure your site doesn’t take too long to load, or you could be losing out on guaranteed sales if your site is not being maintained to a high enough standard.”
If you’re looking to lower your customer acquisition costs and get more value from your visitors and users who are currently making purchases, then it’s worth diving into conversion optimization. Essentially, by optimizing your conversion rate, you’re able to increase visitor revenue, acquire more, prospecting customers, and grow your business overall.
“I would recommend hiring a web developer to review the speed reports and fix all the issues that are slowing down the load time and page speed of your website. There are also plugins that you can buy on eCommerce platforms, but it’s always best to have someone manage that for you, especially if you depend on your site’s uptime for revenue.”
“A good web developer can optimize your website to reach its full potential in converting visits that are coming in from your SEO and digital marketing,” explained Harris.
Since we’ve established that the commencement of an eCommerce business requires a multitude of niche research, financial resources, and professional web development to get it off the ground and running, we will discuss the elements of scaling and growing, automation, and online integrations now.
Scaling Vs. Growing
While your insight into the world of eCommerce is partially based on unique perceptivity, there are key elements about your business that will ensure the profitability of your company and its continued success. That being said, the first step to understanding the difference between scaling and growing is through their applied definitions.
“Growth is usually viewed as the increase of resources to meet the increase of demand that your company can generate, while scaling is seen as increasing the amount of output you can achieve with your existing resources,” explained Feargal Harris, Client Success Manager with Numinix Web Development Inc.
“Ideally, you want to scale your company and grow at the same time.”
Outsourcing is a cost-efficient way for you to scale your business, investing in professional web development services that will create customer value and increase your website’s conversions. And, when your business performance finds that perfect balance between scaling and growth, you’re able to climb your industry ladder and become a leader in your field.
Otherwise known as a labour-saving technology, automation allows websites to perform without human assistance, giving business owners more flexibility to conduct other affairs. So, as your company grows, this high return on investment is a profitable step that’s a reflection of the success of your eCommerce business.
“Demands add up and as a business scales or grows they look to Numinix to automate sales and marketing. With modules and plugins that are designed to send products directly to Google, Facebook, and Instagram, as well as services that manage the optimization of campaigns,” he said.
Whether you’re looking for a WordPress or WooCommerce developer, a Zen Cart specialist, or an entire team of experienced developers to focus on Magento, Big Commerce, OpenCart, or Shopify, Numinix has you covered!
eCommerce integration addresses the coordination between a business website and the back-end accounting and inventory system. So, with such a critical role to play, it’s essential to have a professional web development team establish the flow of information between these two systems.
“Those who are bogged down fulfilling orders and neglecting other areas of their business should turn to the technology, vast knowledge, and experience of the Numinix team,” noted Harris.
There’s an abundance of benefits within eCommerce integration, but “for me, the greatest benefit has got to be the product feed. It’s a machine reachable format of products offered on an eCommerce website. These feeds can be used for Google, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Amazon, eBay, and many more marketing platforms and marketplaces.”
“It opens you up to a wealth of opportunities and so much exposure for your business.”
Once all of the above suggestions have been tackled, it’s now time to start the venture of building your online store. The best way to tackle this huge task is by sitting down with a web development company and outlining your hopes for functionality, colour schemes, and even details such as content. You may also want to consider contacting a digital marketing company at this time to help you get noticed in the world of vibrant advertising.