Opening an online retail store is easier than ever thanks to new, user-friendly, and cost-effective platforms. However, establishing yourself in the increasingly competitive industry of online retail requires more than just a cursory ability to navigate these platforms. You need to take into consideration things that less-committed independent retailers often overlook if you want to increase your income.
Let’s discuss some steps you can take to succeed at e-commerce.
What is e-commerce? E-commerce is a business transaction handled online and it's a major component of the retail landscape. It can encompass services (like writing, editing, or tax consulting), shopping, or even auction websites. Seeing the potential and understanding what a tremendous role e-commerce plays in the world is the first step to success.
First, you need to believe in the power of e-commerce. Maybe you already have a thriving brick-and-mortar storefront and are looking to expand. Maybe you have been selling your handmade products at a local business but you would love to have a direct-to-seller option. Whatever your current business situation is, embracing e-commerce can help.
That takes us to our second major piece of advice: Make sure you have established your niche. It’s estimated that there are between 12 and 24 million e-commerce websites worldwide. That’s a lot of options for your potential customers, so make sure you are offering something unique. Maybe that means a new product that nobody else offers. Maybe that means your unique spin or approach to something. Whatever makes you unique, own it, because it is ultimately what drives customers to you. Being broad works if you’re Amazon, but it can be a curse for mom-and-pop shops and startups. Know who you are and what your business is, and own that.
With those things decided, you’re ready to dive into the nitty gritty -- and that is precisely what you will need to do.
One of the first things you should look at is payroll software. Paying yourself and others requires some basic parameters, like earmarking funds for taxes, timeliness, and so forth. A well-chosen payroll app like QuickBooks ensures everything is done correctly and on time. You can set up things like direct deposit, review past pay periods and even generate payment from wherever you happen to be. It allows you to manage your daily operations with minimal effort, which means you can focus on growing your business.
Success requires that you embrace behind-the-scenes marketing and analytics. The adage “if you build it, they will come” wasn’t uttered by a website designer or e-commerce operator. Simply throwing up a website isn’t enough. To truly be successful in the e-commerce space, you must embrace the data-driven side. You don’t need a degree in online marketing, but you do need to read up on some best practices. Learn how to utilize social media to drive interest in your products. Learn how to conduct simple A/B testing to hone in on what works best for your brand; VWO explains that here. Also, don’t forget to focus on conversions. Growth isn’t always about drawing in new customers; it’s also about retaining your existing audience.
All of this is important because the way people shop online differs greatly from the way people shop in physical stores. According to one study, 96 percent of visitors to a website are not ready to buy yet. Many will go to visit dozens of other stores before making a final choice. Because of this, your marketing techniques will vary.
In that same vein, our final piece of advice can carry you through almost any e-commerce challenge: Focus on user experience. You can have a killer marketing campaign and spend thousands on public relations, but if a user has a negative experience, they will tell people. It will catch up to you, so take every step necessary to make sure your customers have the best experience. This means from their initial reaction to the design of your website and the service they get when contacting the business with issues or questions to what the unboxing of your product is like for them.
What’s the best way to accomplish this? Work with experts. A website designer will create a visually-appealing, easy-to-navigate website for your business -- but your true ace in the hole will be an established IT company like RCS Professional Services. We’ll not only ensure your system and operations run smoothly, we’ll also protect your business from cyber attacks that would be detrimental to your customers’ experience and your bottom line. Contact us today to set up your consultation.
If you keep user experience at the forefront of your mind, you’ll be well on your way to success in your e-commerce business.
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