3 Tips For Starting Your First eCommerce Store
For a lot of us, owning a business seems like a pretty tall task, filled with expenses and paperwork. While that might be partly true, it isn’t necessarily always the case. Believe it or not, starting an eCommerce store can be one of the simplest paths to entrepreneurship, since it can require as little as a good idea and a strong internet connection to get started. If this has been a dream of yours, check out these tips on how to get started.
Map Out Your Needs And Budget
No matter what business you’re starting, having a solid plan and budget in mind will be crucial to your future success. Going into this with nothing but guesswork will doom you in the long run. However, with a proper structure in place, you’ll know the details of your revenue model and be able to anticipate potential problems.
Make a list of all the needs you can think of for your eCommerce shop, including big items like initial inventory and foundational materials like filing an LLC and picking an eCommerce platform. Always overestimate what you anticipate to give yourself some flexibility and room for error. According to eCorner, the estimated startup costs for an eCommerce store average around $992.
Once you’ve established your needs, start picking the specific vendors and services you’re going to use. This includes exploring different eCommerce platforms, studying what type of delivery tracking software is available, and more. The goal is to have a strong foundation that allows you to scale, so try to have every detail of your business structure hammered out before you go after that first sale.
Find Your Niche
With your processes in place, the next step is determining what’s going to make your store unique and how you’ll use that to increase sales. As noted by Small Business Trends, 51 percent of Americans currently shop online, so there’s a massive market to capture. However, there’s also a lot of competition, so you need to find a way to both get customers in the door and keep them coming back.
Your niche is going to largely influence your branding, which is essentially the identity of your store. Think of a store like Polo or Forever21; you have a good idea of what they sell without even looking at their inventory. Although you won’t be perfect at crafting your brand right away, it’s important to refine it as you grow. If there’s one thing that’s going to separate your store from the rest, it’s the type of brand your customers feel they’re a part of and the experience they have in your niche.
Although many people assume that all eCommerce platforms are the same, a lot of intricate details separate the good from the great ones. In fact, according to Help Scout, nearly 78 percent of consumers have bailed on a transaction due to a poor customer service experience, which often involves your user experience, or UX. UX is how the customer flows through your initial landing page to checkout; for example, if your homepage is showcasing a sale for a big ticket item, you might suggest products that compliment it when the customer clicks for details. The flow of your website can make or break your eCommerce business, so take your time in finding a platform that’s intuitive and will drive sales.
Push Hard On Digital Marketing
With all your structural elements in place, start considering how your digital marketing will work and crafting a specific plan for attracting customers. You will probably want to set up a social media account on each major platform and start working on engagement. According to Sprout Social, 51 percent of Instagram users open the app daily, making it an excellent target for an eCommerce store. Explore the different platforms to see which will connect you with your target audience on a day-to-day basis and start practicing with them; this can sometimes be the hardest part.
A good strategy to consider is daily check-in times for social. Beyond knowing when your postings are going to be, it’s a good habit to go in and comment on other people’s work and engage with new followers. While the actual interacting on social media itself may not seem too bad, it’s the getting into the habit of doing it that trips people up, so stay patient and persistent. Who knows? With enough push, one of your pieces might go viral.
What are you most excited about in launching your first eCommerce store? Comment with your answers below!