Everyone around talks about the benefits of starting an ecommerce business. No wonder, the e-commerce niche is gradually conquering the world market. People have got used to shopping online, and they won’t be eager to return to their pre-Covid consumer habits even under safe conditions.
But getting value out of ecommerce opportunities is not as easy as it seems. The thing is, there are many ecommerce projects today. They are often very similar and unable to win client recognition in the background of world-known and successful online businesses.
How to turn your ecommerce project into a growing online business? Our 9-step guide will help you to differentiate.
1. Think About Your Product
The first step is to decide what product you are going to sell. Furniture? Food? Jewelry? If you want to start an eCommerce business, you probably already have an idea of what you want to sell. Perhaps you have a brick-and-mortar business you want to bring online. Maybe you have a vision of a new brand that will stir up the existing market. Either way, you should determine your niche before you set out.
It is recommended that you avoid seasonal products. A product that sells all year round is a much more financially viable option. Clothes might seem like a good fit, but they have a very high return rate. Also, consider the shipping cost when deciding on your product. Light and easily packaged items are preferable over heavy and unwieldy ones.
Business model, revenue model, and buyer persona
Once you know what you are going to sell, you need to pick the right business model. B2B? B2C? Something else? This is a key decision you have to make before setting up your business.
Once you have picked the business model that suits you best – think about your target audience. By putting together a buyer persona, you will better understand your customers and what they want. This will affect how you design and promote your eCommerce store.
Last but not least, decide which eCommerce business revenue model you are going to use. This decision boils down to your product and your resources. If it is your first foray into eCommerce, it is a good idea to find an experienced supplier with good reviews. A beginner is also often better off choosing a local manufacturer, as it will enable you to be more involved in the process.
Packaging and shipping
When you first dip your toe into the waters of eCommerce, using plain flat-pack packaging is sensible. Your priority should be to get your product unharmed to your customer. However, packaging is part of the customer experience. Depending on what you sell, the design of the package itself can add value to your product.
Once the product is safely packaged, it needs to be delivered to the customer. Assume from the very beginning that you will be shipping internationally. After all, the main advantage of eCommerce is access to a global market. You need to decide whether you will ship your product yourself or let a third-party logistics company handle it. Do your research here – this will affect both the cost and the delivery time. Also, keep in mind that importing products such as food is more heavily regulated in some countries than in others.
2. Learn from the Competition
Take the time to identify who your competitor is. How do their products differ from yours? What is the price range you are competing with? What are their delivery times? Do they offer free returns? What do their websites look like? What sets them apart from one another?
Take notes and be honest with your evaluation. Can you compete with them? Is there something you can offer that they don’t?
3. Set Up Your Business
Your business will need a name, preferably a memorable one. There are a few important factors here. The name you choose:
- Shouldn’t be similar to a competitor’s.
- Should be short and simple.
- Should fit your chosen niche.
Ideally, your brand name should be your domain name, so investigate if it is available. Try to get your hands on the .com suffix of your brand name domain if you can, since it is what people will expect the address to be.
A good logo is simple and easy to recognize at a glance. This means there shouldn’t be any small details that will be hard to see if the logo is viewed as a tiny icon. Ideally, its color scheme should match that of your website. Again, it shouldn’t be similar to that of any of your competitors’.
Do the paperwork
An online business is still a business, and as such you will need to do the relevant paperwork before you get it up and running. Investigate what licenses are necessary to start an eCommerce business in your country. Also, take the time to register your business.
4. Pick the Right Platform
There are several eCommerce platforms available, and Magento is one of the most popular – for good reason. One of the main advantages of Magento is how adaptable it is. If you have a design in mind, Magento is likely able to accommodate you. Additionally, it has all the functions necessary to build a successful online store.
“How successful?” you may ask. Data shows that merchants that use Magento on average see their businesses grow three times as fast as non-Magento users. Furthermore, Magento has consistently been the most popular eCommerce platform alternative among the top-selling online retailers.
What Magento has to offer
Magento has many features that can help your eCommerce website stand out from the competition. These include:
- Search engine optimization
The best ad is the ad that brings in traffic for free. This is why search engine optimization (SEO) is so important. The right content, word choices, and placement of keywords can push your Magento eCommerce store to the top results in search engines. This will bring it to the attention of people who are actively looking for the products that you sell. Magento is an SEO-friendly eCommerce platform and there are several extensions available that you can use to improve your search engine visibility further.
Magento offers a responsive design to ensure that your eCommerce store is mobile-friendly. This is essential as more and more online shopping is done on mobile. In fact, many choose a mobile-first strategy, where the website is designed for mobile-first rather than desktop, to ensure the best possible shopping experience for mobile users.
- Chat agent
Magento provides a free chat agent to Magento Commerce. Chat agents are a great feature for eCommerce stores as they can provide live customer support even when there are no humans available. This timely help can be just what you need to make a sale. According to one study, the average customer satisfaction from the function of chat globally is as high as 81.3%. What’s more, more than half of clients are likely to buy from a website again if it offers a live chat function.
- AI recommendation system
One more Magento feature is an AI-driven product recommendation system. Adobe Sensei, as the AI is called, helps create a personalized shopping experience for all of your customers. This is especially useful if you have a large variety of products as it will help guide your visitors to items that are likely to interest them. Consequently, Adobe Sensei can help you upsell, cross-sell, and create a smoother shopping experience on your Magento eCommerce store.
- Speed and performance
Magento allows for building highly performant websites. It has the capability at hand to support thousands of orders in one hour. If you plan to create a growing business, Magento can greatly help.
- Easy content management
To make unique offers, you need to customize the ready-made elements on your platform. Magento allows for flexible content management. Using Magento, you will be able to adjust the e-store interface and functionalities to your business needs.
- Flexible configuration
Magento uses a component-based module structure. It helps to keep code clean and ensure high website performance. Website developers can disable or enable code components depending on their purpose.
- Powerful SEO
Magento is well recognized by top search engines. If you built your ecommerce store on Magento, you ensure good SEO and pave the way for organic traffic. Magento also allows for customized search engine optimization.
- Security and analytics
Magento allows for multiple-level security permissions to protect your ecommerce store. Moreover, you get the chance for third-party integrations with the aim of insightful analytics and secure payments.
To make use of Magento’s benefits, take some time and watch guides on how to manipulate Magento elements to create an online store. Another option is to look for a dedicated Magento development company that will do everything for you.
Which Magento Is Right for You?
Magento 2 comes in two versions:
- Magento Open Source, which was previously known as Magento Community Edition. It offers essential features such as mobile optimization, catalog management, and site search. It is available for free and is a great choice if you are familiar with Magento, or if you are a smaller business that can hire a developer to help you out.
- Magento Commerce, formerly Magento Enterprise Edition. This is the paid version with all the bells and whistles. It can offer everything that Magento Open Source can and then some, including advanced marketing tools, customer loyalty tools, and B2B functionality. Magento Commerce is hosted on the cloud and has access to expert Magento support. If you are running a large or fast-growing business, this is the Magento version for you.
5. Build Your Store
There are a lot of elements to consider when designing your online store. Again, it is a good idea to look at how the competitors have designed their websites and learn from them. Remember that your platform of choice may limit your design options.
First and foremost, however, your website must prioritize being helpful and easy for your visitors to use. Finding the right product has to be simple and intuitive, while the journey from product page to check out – short and smooth. You should also make sure that your website is mobile-friendly to avoid losing potential customers.
6. Provide Customer Service
It might seem excessive, but having an FAQ in place from the very beginning can really make a difference. You should also have an official email address dedicated to customer service ready. You will need to check in on it often and answer any questions potential customers have as quickly as possible. Offering good customer service signals that you are trustworthy and care about providing a quality product.
7. Stay Active on Social Media
Don’t be afraid to make some noise on social media even before you launch your website. Attracting attention to your new eCommerce store and its products beforehand will ensure that you don’t start at zero. Consider posting flattering pictures of your products on Instagram. You can also write some helpful blog articles about the kind of products you sell and share them on Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn.
8. Choose the Right Time to Launch
When is the best time to launch your eCommerce business? That is entirely dependent on your product, which you absolutely have to have in stock beforehand.
Take care not to pick a launch date that is overshadowed by any major holiday. That being said, some products sell better at certain times of the year. If you are selling school supplies, you want your store up and running before the back-to-school season. By launching your eCommerce store before any typical high traffic dates, you will also buy yourself time to test it before the big sale period. There is no less opportune time for your eCommerce store to have a hiccup than during the busiest time of the year.
9. Run Ads
You will no doubt want to run ads to make sure that people find your new business. Facebook and Google both provide well-established options for this. Targeted ads are an excellent way to reach a wider audience that may be interested in your products. However, make sure that your website is in order before you invest in ads. If the landing page is not what visitors expect it to be, they will simply bounce and go elsewhere.
Analyze the data that you gather while running your ad campaigns. Try different tactics and see which have the best results.
10. Keep an Eye on the Data
Set up Google Analytics early. It will help you keep track of the number of visitors and their behavior while they browse your eCommerce store. By adopting the data-driven method, you will be able to identify any problem pages that need seeing to. This will help you make informed decisions about your business.
Extra Tips for Starting an Ecommerce Business
And finally, here are some practical tips from our team that will give you a better business vision and help you be more in control of your brand and audience.
– Ensure responsive customer support
88% of online buyers are less likely to return to an e-commerce store if they had a bad experience there.
The first visitors of your online store may face technical difficulties while making an order. This is why you should keep in touch with your potential buyers at the early stages of your business development.
Prompt response to their questions and assistance with order processing will help you earn client respect. A great way to help customers is to create a FAQ section on each page. While coming up with the questions for this section, step into the client’s shoes. Live chats and support will build a long-term and trusted relationship between you and your audience.
– Care about user experience
Great user experience yields conversion up to 400%.
When thinking about e-store improvements, consider the client journey. Adjust your website design to the interests and preferences of your target audience. Use various methods of user involvement to increase customer retention. Remember: it is easier to retain a client than to find a new one.
Some aspects of your ecommerce website may look exceptional and stylish but will not be used by a client in a way you expect. You should apply analytics tools to explore client behavior on your website. Knowing what attracts user attention the most will let you use it for your business benefit.
– Make unique offers
Create unique offers that will be limited in time. Limited-time offers include various deals, discounts, and promotions that can be used by a customer in a certain period of time. They work on the basis of the FOMO notion, or “fear of missing out.” This fear drives a customer to catch a unique opportunity and make an order.
Limited-time offers will encourage your potential clients to make a quicker decision concerning an order. However, do not overuse them in your business. If being abundant, they will lose their value to a client.
– Create visually appealing content
Organize your website content in a way it looks visually appealing. It is a good idea to add written content to make a relevant offer. However, if this information is not structured properly, a customer will get bored and skip it.
Your offer should be informative but should not impose a cognitive load on your customer. Mix verbal, audial, and visual information. Make your e-commerce store entertaining and add high-quality product photos for your website.
– Introduce regular updates
When selling online brings you first money, it won’t mean that it’s time to relax. You have to regularly improve your ecommerce business and make updates. If you get stuck in one place, your clients may go to a competitor who keeps pace with trends and news.
Be ready to invest money in enhancing marketing tactics and make sure that your ecommerce store remains performant and fast-loading. Advertise your business by collaborating with influencers and using promotion tools. By caring about your brand identity, you will grow your business and improve your market image.
And if you need help with building e-commerce software — contact the Forbytes team. We are always here to assist you in bringing your business idea to the digital world.