Whatever your stage is, you must have already experienced the several stages of difficulty involved in it.
After going through the success and failure stories of hundreds of online stores, we thought of putting together the broad steps that one must take to launch an eCommerce startup. For convenience, we can split the process of building and launch an eCommerce startup into 3 steps:
- The idea
- Gearing for launch
- Post launch
Each section has its own sub-sections or tasks, which you have to complete to get closer to your goal of becoming an eCommerce store owner.
1. The Idea
To begin with, you need an idea. The idea could be a product or a service that customers yearn for. Something which can build up a market or exploit one that is already existing. The better your product or service idea is, the greater the chance of success in eCommerce.
Here are some ways to find the idea or product that can turn you into overnight success:
- Analyze commonly keywords. They indicate a want or demand in the market that is underserved or overlooked upon.
- Identify a customer pain point. Like tangled earphones, pet spa, doorstep laundry, etc.
- Build a brand for yourself out of something you love the most. Like Zappos, Papa Johns Pizza, etc.
- Follow your heart. Create art, music or fashion that can be sold online.
- Bank on emerging trends. How about Virtual Reality wearables or designer smartwatches to begin with?
Usually, identifying the product that you want to build upon is the toughest part. Rest of the process happens on autopilot requiring nothing but your unwavering dedication and perseverance.
2. Gearing for the launch
- Once you have zeroed on your product, the next step is to gear up for the launch. To do that, you will need three main ingredients.
- A domain name: the domain name is the online identity of your store, like a physical address to your home or office.
- Web hosting: to keep your online store up and running 24*7*365 without any downtimes.
- EV SSL certificate: because, in a web world of increasing cyber security attacks, it is necessary to stay secure and keep your customers secure.
However, there are certain other intangible ingredients that you must gear up for to make your eCommerce startup into a success story. Some such ingredients include:
- Who are your competitors?
- What does their product/service portfolio look like?
- How better a product/service can you deliver?
- What is your USP compared to your competitors?
A thorough research on your competitors will help prepare a business model and strategy that can be made successful with least resistance.
- You will need a business plan for two purposes:
- To map out a definite way forward for your business
- To present to investors and public when it is time to scale your business.
The business plan will describe your product/service, delivery models, revenue sources, revenue recognition models and how you plan to earn from the business as the owner.
Branding & Marketing
If you thought branding and marketing efforts are to be initiated post launch of your website or store, nothing could be more wrong. Brand building begins with the early stages of planning your eCommerce venture itself. Deciding a brand name, logo designing, tagline, product packaging, marketing campaigns; everything needs to plotted well in advance. The brand name, logo design and tagline should complement the product/service and the target audience group that you are targeting.
Unlike other business models where offline marketing campaigns like print & magazine, billboards, etc. will work out, your eCommerce venture will want you to use more of online marketing strategies like Search Engine optimization, Social Media Marketing, Video Marketing, Google AdWords, etc.
3. Post Launch
Once your eCommerce store goes online, it is time to start toiling to win the first customer and the many other to follow. Here are some tricks to help you win the first customer.
Winning the first customer
1. Shout out on social media. Create an event for your store launch and invite all to it.
2. Distribute freebies, discount coupons, etc. that will mark your brand image in customer minds
3. Get influencers to talk praise of your product. Influencer marketing can add more muscle to your online marketing efforts too.
4. Optimize your website with deep linking, search engine optimization, social media marketing, and other social commerce websites
5. Get online PR agencies to write press releases and cover stories on your products
These tactics will get you noticed in the web medium and help you get the first sale sooner than you expect it.
Improving traffic to your store
Steady traffic is the bloodline to your eCommerce startup. Improving traffic will increase your chances of having more conversions and sales volumes. Traffic to your store can be easily increased with the help of branded blog publishing, video marketing, Instagram marketing and SEO tactics. Also, observe from where your traffic is originating from. Google Analytics and similar tools help track traffic and conversion rates based on which you can tweak your marketing tactics to increase traffic volumes.
Getting a grip on the numbers
Analytics matter. Whether you like it or not, you have to revisit your math lessons to know how well your eCommerce startup is doing. Make it a point to monitor Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) for eCommerce like conversion rates, cart abandonment rates, inventory levels, site traffic, time spent on site, traffic source, etc.
Revamp customer experience
Do you know what keeps customers keep going back to a store again and again for purchases even when there are so many other alternatives available? Simply because of the outstanding customer experience. A smooth customer experience in your eCommerce startup would mean:
- Quickly loading website
- Easy navigation
- High-res images which load without any glitch
- Quick locating of products
- User reviews and ratings
Wrapping it Up
Building an eCommerce store of your own is no mean task. Be prepared to be bogged down by several responsibilities and tough decisions that will make you rethink the decision.
But, be informed that it is sort of an adventure. The world’s top eCommerce stores like Amazon, eBay, Zappos, etc. are all testaments of perseverance in the face of failure. They have become to be cited as success stories owing to the focus on customer experience. This resource will give you a way ahead to fabricate such a profitable online store.