Online businesses are a dime a dozen, and nine fail for every one that succeeds. If you plan to venture into the world of online business, you want to be one of the ten percent that makes it.
However, the competition is fierce, and you should be prepared to put in a lot of time and effort before and after starting an online business. Nothing happens on its own, and you need to be the driving force behind your enterprise’s success.
Do not assume that the success stories you have read about happened overnight or that the owner woke up one morning and started an online business that generates millions of dollars in turnover. There is a lot more to it than that.
Here are five steps you should follow to create an online business that will be profitable, sustainable, and successful:
Start with the basics
The first thing to establish is what kind of online business you want to develop and its products or services. You might have a brilliant idea and the requisite skill set or knowledge to sell it, but that does not mean immediate success. There is a lot to be done before you get to that stage.
For any business to succeed, you need to identify what problem you are solving for your potential customers. What will you offer them that will make life more convenient for them? There must be a need for what you plan to provide in your ecommerce store, otherwise, no one will want it.
Go further and identify your target market. Who are the people most likely to find your product or service an attractive prospect? For this, you need to do market research. While hiring a professional to do this can be costly, there are other ways to get started.
With a rough idea of what you want to do, go online and look at potential competitors’ sites. Read through posts on their forums to see what customers are saying. What can you offer that these organizations are not? This could help you tailor your product or service to their needs.
Once you have identified that there is sufficient demand for what you plan to offer, you can put the issue of finding the right online business option for you to bed. Now, it is time to develop your business model.
Online businesses operate on different models, and it is up to you to find one that works for your proposed business. For example, if you are supplying goods, there are a few options at your disposal. You could warehouse, package, and deliver the products yourself or use a third-party company to do it for you.
There is also the option of affiliate marketing where you review or advertise goods in your online shop other companies sell, with you earning a commission on every sale directed from your ecommerce store.
If you are buying an ecommerce store, the operating model, and whether you intend to change it are important factors to weigh in your decision to purchase. Explore multiple options before you proceed to ensure you maximize your enterprise’s success.
Develop a website
Your business will only be as good as its website, so having it designed and set up correctly right from the start is essential. It might be tempting to ask the kid down the street who knows a bit about websites or try a DIY approach to save money, but this can lead to severe problems.
A website that is not user-friendly or keeps crashing is an online business crippler and can destroy your credibility. Before even thinking about marketing, you need a professionally built website that is stable and fully functional. Make sure your color choices, logo, and other information published on the website are clear and easy to understand.
Ensure you encourage visitors to the site to leave their email addresses or contact details while they are there, as this builds a customer database for future marketing endeavors.
The website must be simple to navigate as the easier it is for customers to get into your online store, the likelier they are to buy something. Getting them from their selected purchase to checkout with no more than two clicks is the optimal approach.
At this critical stage awareness about the ecommerce shop must be raised to generate traffic and sales. Target customers on the email database from your website with newsletters and flash notices of reduced prices.
A sound approach is using targeted keywords according to online searches to generate content for the website and social media pages. This is called SEO (search engine optimization) and raises your ecommerce store’s visibility online. Without creating awareness through targeted marketing and quality content, the business could lapse into obscurity.
If you are worried about raising awareness, why not consider buying an existing business, where much of this groundwork has been laid? By visiting platforms like Exchange Marketplace, you can find ecommerce stores for sale.
Alternatively, work through a broker. Never assume that an existing business will be less work than starting from scratch. The volume of work remains the same, although its contents might differ.
Deliver service excellence
To maintain a loyal customer base, deliver what your ecommerce store promises, including quality products delivered on time and professional service during the transaction. You cannot compete with others on price very often, but the business can distinguish itself from competitors by offering excellent customer support and service.
Such service means being available for customer queries and responding well to complaints. All companies experience hitches, but what separates the good from the bad is how they deal with them. Decisive action that resolves problems quickly will earn your ecommerce store loyalty from customers.
If you are outsourcing any part of the business, including warehousing and distribution, remember that a failure to perform on their part reflects poorly on your business. Build sound relationships with companies that support your services and have watertight contracts that bind them to specific performance standards to maintain a good reputation.
Interesting related article: “What is e-Commerce?“