Starting an e-commerce business is an exciting and potentially lucrative venture. E-commerce has low overheads, it’s quick to start up and can gain traction in a short amount of time. This is why it is such a popular method of setting up your own online business. This article will take you through the steps to setting up your own e-commerce from scratch
There are several key steps that you have to take in order to get your eCommerce business up and running. However the order in which you take them will change slightly amongst different businesses.
If you are fairly sure that you’ll be able to find a supplier for your products at a profitable rate then you can build your site/store first. Otherwise you’re going to want to secure a supplier before you take any other steps. It would be an incredible waste of time to build an eCommerce store only to find you can’t find a supplier for the products you want to sell.
The advantage of building your website before ordering stock is having a positive cash flow. You want to use your resources as wisely as you can, and tying up your cash in stock at an early stage is not advisable. The chances are it will take at least a month to build a decent e-commerce website. Therefore that is a month that you can use your cash to keep your business moving rather than having it tied up in current assets that you can’t yet sell.
Building your eCommerce store
If you’re fairly aware of how to set up and install web platforms to a domain name you can set up your own webstore. Otherwise it’s probably best to have a professional designer make the site for you. This is because it will save you a lot of time and the site shouldn’t have any security weaknesses.
Once you have your web-shop set up make sure you test your platform thoroughly. This means testing transactions, all email addresses, contact forms, links etc. It can be pretty damaging for your brand’s reputation if your website has faults or weaknesses on its launch.There are several free eCommerce platforms you can use the best of which is either Magento or ZenCart. In terms of paid platforms there are more than you can count. A lot of them serve to different markets so do some searching to find out what suits your business model.
Launching your web store
Launching your store is an exciting time, it’s very important to the direction of your business. Creating a big impression on your launch with special introductory offers can really help drive in that much needed initial traffic. Don’t be afraid to sacrifice some profit to get traffic flowing through your store.
If you can create a good impression then there’s a chance that this initial traffic will come back multiple times over. Even if they don’t directly return themselves they may recommend a friend or share your site on a social network. Sales are the most important thing to any eCommerce business; without them they can’t survive. So your first focus should be on squeezing those sales out of your traffic.
Therefore your time and efforts (initially) should be focused on quick ROI traffic generation techniques. What I mean by this is that you should focus on the areas that are likely to give short term results and keep your cash flow healthy. These methods include connecting with people on social media sites, writing guest posts on niche related blogs, putting vouchers on coupon sites, paying for PPC traffic and advertising on forum/community sites.
However over time you’ll want to integrate longer term traffic strategies. One of the biggest to note is conducting SEO (search engine optimisation). This is the practice of optimising your website (both internally and on the wider web) to gain higher volumes of targeted search engine traffic. If you can do this then traffic will passively come to your site with no ongoing costs.
You may also want to build up an email contact list by offering a monthly newsletter. This is a good strategy to safeguard your site against search engine changes (that could impact your traffic). If you have a dedicated list of customers interested in your product area then you’ll be able to market directly to them without search engines.
When setting up your eCommerce store it is best to get the site right from the start. The reason is that customers don’t like radical change on eCommerce platforms. If there are major changes to be made after your site launch you’ll lose a lot of brand value.
Always put the customer first, deliver as much value as you can and keep track of your competitors regularly.
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