Post written by Victoria Greene. (Want to guest post? Email me [hi][@][alejandrorioja].[com])
If you have been considering breaking into the world of ecommerce, now is a fantastic time to do so. With new technologies constantly transforming the marketing landscape, there are countless opportunities to capitalize on growing trends, and captivate your audience with something truly innovative.
Of course, before you can become a leading online ecommerce brand, you will first need a store. Fortunately, this is not as complicated as it might appear at first glance. And to make it even easier, we’ve put together this handy guide to help you along the way.
1. Choose Your Industry
Naturally, it makes sense to begin with what you plan to sell. Will it be a product, a service, or a combination of the two? Do you have something in mind already, or are you still searching for your niche?
There are a number of important factors to keep in mind when deciding what your new store will sell. After all, you need to weigh up the viability of your chosen items by evaluating the costs to yourself in comparison to your potential for profit.
- From where do you plan to source the product, and how stable and reliable is that source?
- How much does the product cost, and what are the margins on it?
- Is there demand for the product, and to what extent is that demand being met?
- How easy is it to acquire the product from brick and mortar retailers?
- What can you offer to set yourself apart from your competitors?
- How do you plan to store and ship the product?
- Are there any trade or other restrictions that apply to the product?
- How are you going to market and sell your product?
Answering these questions will help you to assess whether there is potential for a successful business within your chosen industry. Ultimately, you will need to select a niche market that appeals to a core audience who would struggle to source a product elsewhere that was as well-suited to their needs as yours.
It is also advantageous to select a product and industry that you care about. The more interest and knowledge you have, the more genuine your marketing approach will be, and the better you will be able to identify and cater to the needs of your customers.
2. Identify Your Audience
To be able to market your new online store effectively, you need an idea of whom you are selling to. This goes hand in hand with identifying your niche, as you will be exploring gaps in the market and identifying keyword phrases to target all at the same time.
You will need to have an idea of the sort of age groups within your audience, their geographic locations, their browsing habits, and even their other interests. The more information you have, the more accurately you can construct buyer personas upon which to structure your marketing efforts.
A comprehensive understanding of your audience will enable you to provide a better user experience, and communicate in a manner that appeals to your customers. It will even influence the layout, design, and style of your ecommerce store.
3. Web Design
Of course, before you can launch your ecommerce store, you first need to build it. This means choosing and registering a memorable, and appropriate domain, selecting a hosting provider, and choosing an ecommerce platform.
There are several platforms to choose from, and the right one for your business will depend on your specific preferences, design expertise, and required functionality. In the realm of ecommerce, Shopify (hosted) and WordPress (self-hosted) are both good options where you’ll find a lot of support online.
In addition, the aesthetic and layout of your website are also important. After all, no matter how great your brand is, customers won’t stick around if your website looks unprofessional, or is difficult to navigate.
Next up comes marketing; you need to get your name out there so customers will begin to recognize your brand, and find their way to your website. SEO plays a big part here, as a large percentage of your traffic is likely to come from organic searches.
(Here’s an advanced SEO guide)
Re-engage with former customers via automated emails, and build your brand’s persona by fostering conversations on social media, and interacting with your audience. You should also pad out your website with interesting content, so your customers have a reason to keep checking back, even when they are not planning to make a purchase.
To get the best possible results from your marketing efforts, it is wise to carry out split tests on everything from your advertising campaigns to your onsite aesthetics. This enables you to see what works best for different audiences, and optimize your design for the best possible ROI.
5. Measure and Optimize
With all this in hand, you are now in a position to make your store even better. This comes from careful monitoring of a number of metrics which can enable you to gather useful insights about your website’s performance and the behavior of your customers.
- Traffic – how many people are finding their way to your website? How are they accessing your content? And what times of day are the busiest for your business?
- Conversion and bounce rates – how many visitors make a purchase, or sign up to your mailing list? How many simply leave, and what causes them to do so? These details can help you to identify the strengths and weaknesses of your web design and make alterations to improve the experience for your customers.
- Performance metrics such as cost per click, average order value, and cost per action. These enable you to calculate your marketing ROI and determine whether you are staying within your budget, or overspending in the wrong areas.
As your understanding of business analytics grows, you will become able to take decisive action based on your business data, and use this knowledge to power the growth of your brand.
As with any business, making your ecommerce store a success will require time, dedication, and commitment. However successful you may be in the early days of your business, to maintain or improve upon that success you will need to continuously optimize and adapt your marketing approach, web design, and perhaps even the products you sell.
Even so, once you’ve gotten the ball rolling, it becomes far easier to analyze the market, and make any necessary adjustments. Furthermore, as your loyal customer base grows, you will not only have a valuable source of feedback, but also a clearly definable audience for whom you can tailor your marketing efforts even more effectively.
All this combined means your business can continue to grow in a direction that is not only financially sound, but also in line with the needs, expectations, and even requests of your customers.