Launching an e-commerce website is easy.
Find some stuff to sell, buy a website in a box (or just create an eBay account), upload your logo and you're live. You have an e-commerce website.
What you don't have is an e-commerce Business. While launching a successful e-commerce business includes all of that, it also requires much more.
Buy an established website and - should you choose wisely - you'll inherit a business that is already trading and making a profit.
Whether you've bought an existing business or plan to launch a website from scratch, here 12 tips for building a profitable e-commerce platform:
- Do understand your business structure - will you be online only? Are you going to sell only via Etsy or eBay? Or do you have a shop as well?
- Don't try and sell everything on day one. Most successful e-commerce businesses sell a focused range of products, so decide where you're going to focus yours.
- Do identify your USP (Unique Selling Proposition), and make sure it's clear to your customers in everything you do. So if customer service is everything - make sure your phones are manned when your customers want to speak to you!
- Don't buy the wrong website. However big or old your business is, your website needs to be fit for purpose. Don't buy a five-figure site if you're only going to sell four-figures worth of products in year one.
- Do spend on good hosting. If your website doesn't work or is too slow, your customers won't buy - so don't scrimp on your hosting fees. Plus, site speed will affect how much search-engine traffic you get too!
- Don't assume that just because you have a website you'll get customers. Putting a website live is not the same as opening a shop. When you open a shop you already have people walking by on the pavement. You don't have that online.
- Do create a marketing plan. Even if it's only for three months at a time, outlining your marketing plan will really help you keep focused and give you time to spot the opportunities.
- Don't be afraid to build you business around your strengths. If you have a background in PR then make the most of that in your marketing. If you love writing, then create a brilliant blog, or if photography is your thing make your products look amazing.
- Don't relying too heavily on one marketing method - you have to use a mix of marketing approaches to succeed. Playing to your marketing strengths is great, but very few e-commerce businesses have been built on one marketing tactic alone - so you need to use at least three if not more. Media include email, PR, PPC, blogging, video, direct mail and more.
- Don't forget to capture customer data. On day one you might not be planning on using postcards to drive sales - but you might one day, so start collecting those addresses and the permission to use them!
- Do include an email sign-up form on your website.
- Don't forget to install Google Analytics on your website, including the e-commerce conversion tracking - you need that data to plan year two!
By following these tips you'll have much more than an e-commerce website; you'll have an e-commerce business.
The author has also written the eCommerce MasterPlan and owns online marketing agency indiumonline