If you build it, they will come. Or will they? In 2013, B2C e-commerce sales amounted to more than 1.2 trillion dollars. At the time, there were more than 1 billion online buyers, a figure that is continually growing.
Starting an online business in the digital age may seem easy; buy a custom domain name, link up a website with some modern custom drag-and-drop templates, setup your payment processing, and next thing you know…well, nothing. That’s because there’s a lot more than meets the eye when it comes to setting up your digital storefront. It goes beyond seeing a need or problem and simply solving it with your product or service. How will you reach your target market and how will you increase the chances that they’ll return?
From a CEO to a first-time small business owner, building an online store has never been easier to better position yourself to access the millions of growing e-commerce customers. But you have to know where to start.
What is Your Mission Statement?
Before even thinking about setting up a business online, what is your mission statement? Having a focused mission statement will guide you through the process and help your decision making. Furthermore, having focus will help you zoom past the endless distractions that can appear, especially if you’re unfamiliar with the online world. Define your statement by defining your products and services and answering the questions: What’s the purpose and why am I doing this?
Do Your Homework
Once you’ve defined your mission statement, start doing your homework. Go online and see what companies are working and what companies are falling short despite their efforts. Navigate their websites and get lost on their pages. How is their website design? Sign up for a newsletter, is there consistency across content and across platforms or is it one jumbled mess? If it’s a mess, typically it’s because they lost site of their purpose and became distracted by a lot of useless (and expensive) bells and whistles.
Check out the hugely successful company Dollar Shave Club. Their site is clean, easy to navigate and their message is clear. They provide something that many other businesses provide in a saturated market controlled by mega corporations, but they do it differently. It’s simple, it’s clean and their message is bold, while knowing just the exact target audience to market to.
Work on the Technical
Now comes the technical side. Unless you’re tech savvy or have prior experience, finding someone to help you set up your online business will save you a lot of time, money and stress in the long run. If you setup a website yourself with little to no experience, you’re doing yourself a disservice and not taking full advantage of the wealth of knowledge that a professional team is capable of. Hiring someone from the start will provide you a return on your investment, a modern and smooth-functioning website and afford you time to focus on the logistics of your business.
Set Up Your E-Commerce Backend
It’s imperative to set up a flawless, and high-functioning backend experience for efficiently streamlining your inventory and sales process. Building a flow chart for every aspect of the sales process will not only help you understand the process yourself, but will help you identify and remove any extraneous steps that may prevent customers from purchasing your product. Integrating a secure shopping carts like Shopify, BigCommerce, and X-Cart, into your site so that the user has one consistent, branded experience, is important. Having a cart that links to your inventory and keeps track of stock in real-time is key to preventing over selling and future headaches. From returns and damaged goods to shipping modules, integration with accounting software, and both frontend and backend usability, you must anticipate scenarios and work to identify a solution.
Define You Marketing Strategy: Inbound Marketing
You’ve come up with your mission statement to guide your vision and decision making. You’ve done your homework to see what technological and innovative options are out there. You’ve identified your competition. You’ve got the frame work and structure of your website and backend e-commerce like X-cart or BigCommerce in place, there’s one more key component to implement: your marketing strategy.
Think of Inbound as a puzzle, each piece in the package has its proper place. It can’t solely exist on its own to complete the larger picture, and the larger picture is useless without every piece serving its purpose. Inbound Marketing is similar in that it is an integrated strategy that takes into account a purposeful website design, social media strategy, search engine optimization (SEO), content writing and content offerings, and email marketing. It’s all geared as a cohesive unit to drive quality leads to your website, convert qualified website traffic into leads and sales. Each strategy is tailored specific to your company, so it’s not a one-size-fits-all operation.
While this is not a comprehensive post to starting a business online, it’s a start to get your gears turning. For this and more helpful advice from the team at Paveya, check out our digital marketing blog.