Someone is always trying to make money online. You know the type of person, the one who keeps spamming your inbox to like their link or Facebook page. The one who keeps asking you to buy their atrocious crochet projects on "you know, my Etsy." The teenager trying to make it big on YouTube and open up a path to Internet stardom. But for many people, ecommerce is the way to go. It feels safe, does not need a lot of capital to set up, right?
Many ecommerce beginners dive into ecommerce thinking that it is an easy way to make money -- simply because others have done so before. Many end up learning from their mistakes and still more end up swimming in the deep end of failure. The following tips will help you make your ecommerce venture a success.
Make Sure You Have a Great Product
Because without it, your website is bust. The key to a great ecommerce website is to have an inventory you believe in, that you are willing to sell, that you are willing to fight for. It can be something as simple as your handmade stuffed toys, candles, gardening tools -- if the product is good, people will buy it. But when customers hear the words "low-quality", shoddy or get a whiff of bad reviews or frequent returns, then you are in for it. It is difficult to scale back from a bad review -- and even more difficult to win back customer trust once you have lost it.
Before you set up shop online, test your products at flea markets, bazaars or at local fairs. Sell to neighbors, friends, passerby and see if you have a bit of real-world success. Chances are, if the locals do not want to buy your product when it is right in front of them, no one will.
Know Your Goals
Why are you setting up an ecommerce website? Why are you shelling out potentially thousands to get a design team to create your perfect website? Before you venture into the world of ecommerce, you should know what your goals are. Try creating a mission vision for your brand and product, then narrowing it down into concrete goals. For example, you sell organic soybean wax candles. Your vision is to fill the world with beautifully scented organic candle goodness, but your website goal is to up your sales by at least 5%. Another goal would be to get more publicity for the product itself.
Your goals affect the overall design of your website. Not only that, your goals will help you measure your website's success later on.
Make Sure You Have a Marketing Plan
Even if it is just written down on a piece of scrap paper, make sure you have an idea of where your marketing is going. This will help determine advertising (will there be any?), affiliates, future promotions and discounts. If possible, discuss your marketing plan and goals with your professional web design team. This can help you bridge gaps between your actual and virtual storefronts, local or national campaigns and create cohesive branding.
Know Your Limits
While it may be tempting to ship nationwide, you may end up paying your shipping provider more than what you made in a month! Start small, start slow and expand gradually. It depends on your product type and your starting capital -- how much or how far can you expand? If at the moment, you can only deliver in-state, let your customers more. Or provide nationwide shipping for extra costs. Knowing your limits also plays a huge role in your marketing plans and in your goal-setting.
Keep in Mind that Retail Success May Not Necessary Translate into Virtual Success
Before creating your dream website, know that retail success may not necessary translate into virtual success, or vice versa. For example, a one person operation may not be able to handle a sudden influx of orders once the virtual store goes live. Like any business, ecommerce experiences much of the same issues: too little demand, too much supply, oversupply, a niche that only a select few pay for. Unlike retail stores, you need to contend with shipping costs, parcel wrapping, returns (no business satisfies 100% of all customers) and a million tiny issues along the way.
Your experience as a business owner, pricing, marketing and general savvy guarantee your success -- having an ecommerce website does not. It is a mix of product, pricing, marketing, great timing and above all, hard work.