With new businesses and competitors popping up every day, ecommerce is one of the most unforgiving industries.
Even when you have an established store that’s selling more products than you originally could have dreamed of, the emergence of a new competitor or the coming of a new trend can disrupt everything and send you a couple of steps back.
Because of this, you need to make sure you have a strong foundation from the very beginning. That’s why we’ll be covering five things to consider before setting up an ecommerce store, and a couple of extra recommendations to make sure you’re on the right path.
1. What are you selling?
It may seem obvious to do so, but many people decide to set up an online shopping business model without actually knowing what they’re going to sell, or if they do know, with very little knowledge as to how they’re going to acquire the initial supplies.
For instance, like many things in life, it can all start with an idea; an idea to sell jumpers with a particular design that you just know are going to sell out the very second people see them.
That’s all well and good, but how are you going to get said jumpers in the first place? Are you going to buy blank ones and print the design yourself, or are you going to order a bulk amount with the design already printed on them?
2. Who Is Your Competition?
Once you have a good idea what you’re going to sell and how to acquire it, you’ll have to do some competitive research and find out who else is in the game.
If we continue using the jumper example above, you’ll have to find out who else is selling jumpers like yours. These businesses — not those selling jackets, socks or other items of clothing — will be your competition.
While those selling these items are also in the garment industry, the very fact that they focus on items other than what you will be selling means that they’re not your direct competition. If they also sell jumpers similar to yours, then they will be part of your competition, but not your direct competition.
3. Who Is Your Target Audience?
With knowledge of who your competition is — both direct and indirect — your next ecommerce business plan consideration is to find your target audience, which is the segment of the general population you’ll be targeting as part of your marketing efforts.
Additionally, as your target audience, they’ll be the ones who will be more likely to buy your products, and the ones who will be more receptive to your marketing messages. For example, if you sell luxury footwear for women with prices that average over £500, you’ll want to target women who can actually afford your products, which will more likely be women in the workforce above a certain age who can spend more on luxury items.
4. Where Are You Shipping?
Another consideration that follows up finding your target audience, and a very big part of knowing how to start an online store, is deciding where you’ll be shipping your products, AKA where you’ll be doing business.
Are you based in London? Are you going to keep things within the UK and possibly neighbouring European countries? Or are you going to branch out into a more international audience and also target consumers in America?
Many don’t realise it, but knowing where you’ll be doing business from the start can prove to be a great advantage later on because you’ll have a better idea from the very beginning about who your audience is and what they want to hear, and can create a tailored strategy accordingly instead of letting valuable time to pass.
5. What Is Your Strategy?
Finally, the last real consideration you need to make to know how to start an ecommerce business is to combine everything and create a strategy to guide your efforts from the beginning onward.
This strategy needs to account for everything your business will go through, including times of hardship and times of growth. For example, what if a new competitor pops up and starts disrupting your business? Or maybe you start selling more than you originally anticipated and are faced with a shortage of supplies — what are you going to do then?
It’s situations like these that you have to anticipate and be able to navigate if you plan to create a successful online shopping business model that can thrive even in the toughest environments.
Apart from the considerations we covered today, there are also a couple other things you can do to improve your chances of setting up a successful online business, including:
- Properly describing and showcasing your products: As an ecommerce business, you want to sell products. To do so, you’re going to have to describe them as best as you can while highlighting what makes them so wonderful, including using high-quality images that show them off in their best light.
- Pay close attention to your shopping cart design: Shopping carts are incredibly important in ecommerce. As such, you need to ensure a good design with proper functionality, including the ability to add or remove multiple items, revise an order as needed, insert promo codes if you’re offering any, and so on. The fashion retailer Sephora integrates all the necessary features, plus product recommendations and an option to continue shopping, which increases the odds of new items being added to a shopper’s cart.
- Offer guest checkout functionality: Many consumers don’t follow through with a purchase and abandon a cart because they are required to enter too much personal information, or create an account with the business they intend to shop with. While acquiring these things may give you more information for marketing to your users further down the line, it’s only going to present a roadblock in your conversion funnel. To counter this, offer the ability for them to check out as guests, so they can rest easy knowing their information is safe.
- Highlight bestselling products: Highlighting bestselling products is a wonderful way an ecommerce can increase conversions. This is because each highlighted product serves as proof that the item in question is a good one and liked by many other users.For a good example, consider Amazon. While browsing through their products, they not only have tags for products that they recommend, but also for bestselling products their users recommend. These products usually have the most (positive) reviews, making it more likely that they’ll be added to another shopping cart.
Starting an ecommerce business is not going to be easy, but if you do it right, it can be incredibly rewarding knowing that you did everything from the ground up and succeeded all on your own. There are a lot of obstacles you’re going to face, but as long as you have a business plan and strategy that accounts for everything—or almost everything—you’ll have a good start to see you through.
As an added helper, you can also consult a creative agency to guide your efforts and make sure you’re on the right path. To find one, feel free to use this guide to know how to choose a creative agency.
Best of luck!
Author Bio: Sabrina is a content writer for Appnova, a creative digital agency based in London that specialises in fashion eCommerce. She writes on a variety of subjects that range from ecommerce website design to SEO and PPC.