February 23, 2024

SME BUSINESS NEWS

Small Business News from NTSI

How To Get Started in eCommerce

Getting started in eCommerce can be a real challenge. It can be a huge opportunity, but can also be full of challenges. There’s certainly a lot to think about and even more challenges than you’ll have first considered.

However, no matter what your niche, there are universal truths that you can follow to ensure that things are as mapped out as possible.

Sales and Marketing Director of outdoor equipment specialists, Valley & Peak, Jim De’Ath has been running a successful eCommerce store for several years.

“One particular piece of advice I’d give for those starting in e-commerce is that cash flow is very important. Cash really is king so it might sound simple, but don’t spend it all before you’ve got any back. Make sure you have a nice buffer of working capital, you never know when you might need to fall back on it.

“Have the best product knowledge in your niche as standard and couple this with excellent customer service to set you apart from your competition. There are going to be others trying to do what you’re doing, so make yourself the fountain of knowledge on your chosen subject.

“It may be a wrench, but be ready to adapt. It’s never as simple as the business plan you wrote and hurdles will be placed in your way at every turn. Remember to also be different. Why would anyone buy from yet another one of the same? Find what sets you apart and run with it.

“Another essential part of your journey is awareness and your virtual shop front. Be seen and invest in e-commerce marketing and effective, results-driven methodologies. Your site has to look good and work perfectly. Spend time on making your site better than the competition. Also, don’t leave SEO to the end. Make a start as soon as you can. It’ll save money in the long term and establish your store much quicker.

“Don’t waste time on influencers if they can’t help you. It’s a two way street, be sure of who you are working with and what they will bring to your business.

“Make sure you stock products that sell. Do your research when buying and spend your precious money wisely.

“Don’t do it all yourself – utilise fantastic agencies to build on your work force and capabilities.

“Add value – if you’re the same price as everyone else then make sure there’s a reason to buy from you. Challenges we’ve had as a brand include competition that have already got their foot in the door or rule the market if established. Another issue has been cash flow, buying products that don’t sell and getting stock of products that do sell.”

Here are some of Jim’s tips to follow:

Choose a Profitable Niche: Selecting the right niche is crucial for your e-commerce success. Research and identify a niche that’s not only interesting to you but also has a demand in the market.

Look for products that solve specific problems or fulfil needs for a target audience. Conduct thorough market research to understand the competition, target audience, and potential profitability of your chosen niche.

Create a Strong Brand Identity: Building a strong brand identity helps you stand out in a crowded market. Develop a unique and memorable brand name, logo, and colour scheme that resonates with your target audience.

Your brand identity should reflect the values, personality, and mission of your business. Consistency across your website, social media, packaging, and communication builds trust and recognition.

Build a Professional Online Store: Your e-commerce website serves as your storefront, so it’s important to make a great first impression. Choose an e-commerce platform that suits your needs, whether it’s Shopify, WooCommerce, BigCommerce, or others. Customise your website’s design to match your brand, ensure it’s mobile-responsive, and optimise its speed for a seamless user experience. Clear navigation, high-quality product images, detailed descriptions, and an easy checkout process are essential elements.

Provide Excellent Customer Service: Outstanding customer service can set you apart from competitors and create loyal customers. Offer multiple channels for customer support, such as live chat, email, and a dedicated customer service phone line.

Respond promptly to inquiries, address concerns, and provide accurate information. Implement a hassle-free return and refund policy to build trust with your customers, and encourage them to leave reviews and testimonials to build social proof.

Remember that e-commerce success takes time and effort. Continuously analyse your performance, gather feedback from customers, and adapt your strategies accordingly. Stay updated on industry trends and be prepared to adjust your approach as the e-commerce landscape evolves.