So, you’ve decided to enter the exciting world of eCommerce. Congratulations! Running your own eCommerce business is an excellent way to work from home — ideal for avoiding COVID and juggling family responsibilities. Whether you’re looking to start a side hustle or quit your day job, here’s everything you need to know before launching your eCommerce business.
1. It’s not easy
Yes, eCommerce sales are higher than ever, especially during the COVID era. However, eCommerce businesses are also the most common type of new business. There is fierce competition even if you have a fairly niche offering. If you’re just entering the scene, you need a way to distinguish yourself. New businesses can rarely compete on price alone. That means you need a unique selling proposition to help you grab your market share.
Remember, there’s no such thing as “get rich quick.” If you’re starting an eCommerce business hoping to make easy money, you’re setting yourself up for failure. You should expect to dedicate many hours to planning, marketing, and strategizing your new enterprise. As Steve Jobs said, “If you really look closely, most overnight successes took a long time.”
2. Basic business principles still apply
While you can avoid the costs of leasing a brick-and-mortar store and purchasing a neon “OPEN” sign, you’re still running a business. Don’t assume that eCommerce businesses are exempt from the basic rules. Any activity that does not generate profit is not good for business, so it’s important to do a cost–benefit analysis and other key financial planning.
For example, you’ll end up spending hundreds of dollars on website design, development, and hosting over the course of your first year. You’ll also be paying transaction fees on every purchase, and you’ll need to factor in marketing costs as well. If your products are priced too low or if there is insufficient demand for them, you may be operating at a loss. It’s normal to “be in the red” as you’re just starting out, but you should plan out your expenses and price points so that once sales pick up, you’ll be earning more than you’re spending.
You do have to spend money to make money, but in the long run, you should be generating profit. Pay close attention to your expenses: if your business costs you $200 per month to run but you end up making only $50 in monthly sales, you need to rethink your approach. Ultimately, a viable business is one in which (a) customers are willing to pay for the product and (b) the total revenue eventually exceeds operational costs.
3. DIY web solutions aren’t always the best
Website builders such as Wix and Squarespace have marketed themselves as an eCommerce entrepreneur’s dream come true. Who wouldn’t want to put together their website in 30 minutes and start making money?
Unfortunately, it’s rarely that simple. These builder platforms end up costing you more in the long run, because you typically pay monthly fees, with additional costs to remove branding, sell products, and so on. Also, the idea that your website is just a way to showcase your products is the wrong mindset. You need to focus on your website as your 24/7 salesperson, one that fully expresses your brand’s unique offerings.
For all those reasons, it is much better to use a professional CMS such as WordPress or a specialized eCommerce platform such as Shopify or Magento. There are free or low-cost options, so your primary investment would be to hire a developer who can fully customize your site. If done well, this initial cost ends up paying itself back.
It’s also worth noting that many Wix and Squarespace sites are not ideal for search engine optimization (SEO) or eCommerce. To run a successful online business, you need to be able to reach your target customers and provide them with an easy, secure buying experience. A professional website can provide better SEO and user-friendly shopping.
4. You need amazing content
Long gone are the days when you could list products with bare-bones descriptions and rely on Google to bring in the customers. Today, people are inundated with promotional posts, ads, and search engine listings. To stand out from the crowd, you must give your audience a unique experience. A great way to do this is content marketing.
Content marketing entails everything from social media posts to email newsletters to blogs. Ideally, you release amazing content across all these platforms to hook customers and attract them to your brand. Even your product descriptions should tie into your company’s overall story. Why should customers care about your brand? What problems do your products solve for them?
Great content is not only ideal for SEO but also an organic way to entice customers. Make content marketing a key part of your digital strategy so that you’re not competing solely on the cost/availability of your products.
5. There is always more to do
Once you’ve finished your eCommerce website and started generating profit, you’re done, right? Wrong. Like anything worth having, a business requires care, maintenance, and any opportunity for growth. You should set goals for your business, then check in regularly to assess your progress. Are some of your products not selling? It might be better to remove them from your inventory. Is your Instagram not driving sales? Dive into your analytics to see where you can improve.
Never assume that your business can be a “set it and forget it” situation. There is rarely enough momentum to keep them going without your involvement. Also, you’ll likely find that as your enterprise gets easier to manage, you have time to work on expanding it: creating new products, reaching new markets, and so on. A business is your baby — you must commit to its continued growth and care!
You now have a lot to do to plan your eCommerce business. While you’re working on your marketing, budget, and goals, why not let the experts handle your web presence? At Seedling Digital, we’re honored to help entrepreneurs achieve their dreams. We provide professional, high-converting web design, as well as branding strategies that help you stand out from the crowd. Set your eCommerce enterprise up for success: contact Seedling Digital to get started!