In 2020, it is estimated that e-commerce retail will attract over 2 billion buyers who will bring in over $4 billion worth of sales. This is a great time to start an e-commerce business, but there’s also strong competition, especially by big marketplaces like Amazon.
This is a great opportunity for startups to find unique ways to stand out from the crowd and offer something that retail giants don’t. One example is offering personalized services and products that fit specific niches and topics.
Keep reading to discover 9 essential tips for launching a successful, profitable ecommerce startup.
1. Build a Solid Business Plan
Every business starts with a solid business plan. You don’t have to write 20 pages of detailed tasks, but you do need some guidelines to help you achieve your goals. Begin with a three-month business plan and tweak it along the way.
Make sure to include your startup vision and mission, monthly financial goals, budgets, employees and tasks, marketing goals, and target markets. A business plan is essential if you plan to get funding from investors but it also keeps you accountable.
2. Test the Market Before Launching
Never start an e-commerce business without testing the market first. Many startups make the mistake of spending tons of time and money on creating a product only to flop when they launch. This often happens when they don’t do the proper research beforehand and end up with a product that people don’t really need.
By doing market research, you’ll get a good insight into your competition, their prices, your customers’ needs, and market saturation. Unless you have a unique product that satisfies unique needs, market testing is crucial for the success of e-commerce startups.
3. Know Your Audience
Knowing exactly who you’re selling to can help you create products and services customers can’t resist. When you know their needs and problems, you can offer tailored and personalized solutions.
Start by creating a buyer persona profile to get to define your customer’s demographics, lifestyle, shopping habits, tastes, and preferences. Create your ideal customer profiles before you launch so you have time to tweak and adjust your website, copy, ad campaigns, and products.
4. Pick a Profitable Niche
Picking a niche is essential for the success of your e-commerce business, whether you sell physical products or digital services. Having a specific niche can help you better define your target audience and create an effective marketing strategy.
Big marketplaces like eBay and Amazon can afford to sell all kinds of products, but for e-commerce startups, it’s best to focus on a single niche. Instead of selling pet items in general, focus on a sub-niche for one type of pet. For example, you can sell dog leashes and harnesses only and expand your offering to dog beds, toys, and accessories later.
5. Build a Sales-Focused Website
Your ecommerce website is the face of your brand and no matter what you’re selling, it can make or break your bottom line. The website should be optimized for search engines, but more importantly, for the visitors. This means sleek design, easy navigation, quality content, and fast loading time.
Then, you need to optimize each page for conversions, which means adding CTA buttons, sales copy, and tons of quality visuals. Given that 69% of shopping carts are abandoned, you have little time to convince people to buy.
6. Get Legal Matters Sorted
If you’re starting a business on Amazon, it’s best to consult Amazon lawyers for all the legal matters related to opening a store. This way, you’ll have someone to help you if things go wrong, your store gets suspended, or you experience other legal problems.
If you’re opening an e-commerce store on other platforms, make sure you’re familiar with the laws, tax requirements, and state regulations related to running an online business. In addition, if you ship physical products, especially food items, cosmetics, or supplements, you might need special permits and licenses to sell and ship them both locally and nationwide.
7. Offer Stellar Customer Service
Customers are the lifeline of any ecommerce business, especially when first starting out. This is why you need to set up a customer support system that’ll be easily available to your potential and existing customers. You can do this via chatbots, FAQs on your website, live chat support, phone support, and your social media channels.
Be helpful, kind, and reply to all messages as soon as you can. This is the time to build strong customer relationships, so your team should be well-educated on your products and systems. Remember that unhappy customers are more vocal than satisfied customers and will share their negative experiences online for everyone to see.
8. Set Up a Marketing Plan
Once you define your target market and niche, it’s time to set up a marketing plan to promote your business. Outline a budget, marketing channels, content, software, employees, and KPIs that you’ll be measuring.
Building brand awareness is the first step to putting your brand out there. Then, focus on building relationships and trust with potential customers. This is how you turn them into loyal paying customers.
9. Don’t Give Up
Growing a business is not easy, but it’s a rewarding journey both personally and financially. It helps you test your limits, build strength and perseverance, and come up with solutions when you don’t see any.
Your big breakthrough may come after two months or twelve months, but it’s crucial that you stick to your plans and not give up. Success rarely comes overnight and most e-commerce store owners put in long hours to get everything going. It’s these skills and mindset that propel them to success.
Build and Grow Your Ecommerce Startup With These Essential Tips
Whether you’re a first-time business owner or a serial entrepreneur, these ecommerce startup tips will help you build and grow a successful business.
Aside from the technical and admin tasks to complete before launching, remember to not give up and stick to the journey until it pays off (and it will).
Want more small business and entrepreneurship tips? Check out some of the other articles on our website where we share the latest industry news and trends.