It’s a great time to be launching an online business. Consumer habits have swung rapidly in the direction of ecommerce, thanks to the enforced closure of the high street. While the lifting of restrictions will cause this shift to decelerate in 2021, there’s no doubt that online shopping will continue to grow-just at a slightly less explosive rate.
So, if you’re thinking of starting a new online venture, there are a few points to bear in mind. Let’s take a look at a few of them.
Research your customers
Jeff Bezos is without question the most successful ecommerce entrepreneur of all time, and a man worth listening to when it comes to what works and what doesn’t. One of the points continually reinforced in Bezos’s annual letter to shareholders is the company’s commitment to focus on customers. By providing customers with a means of communicating their wants and needs, and taking pains to research the wants and needs they haven’t yet articulated, you’ll secure long-term loyalty.
Your market research should reveal the demographics you’ll be chiefly targeting. Once you know your audience, you’ll be able to adapt your tone of voice to appeal to them. This knowledge might also inform your choice of social network-If you’re aiming for older people, for example, then Facebook might yield rewards that Tiktok might not. Similarly, if you’re targeting the younger generation, TikTok, Pinterest, YouTube and Snapchat might be the way to go…
Choose the right technology
Ecommerce is a sector that’s susceptible to rapid technological change. Over a given year, an emergent technology can disrupt everything-and you’ll need to be able to brace yourself when you see such a wave approaching.
Nowadays, for example, a bespoke website is usually not worth the trouble for new businesses. Go for something off-the-shelf using a service like Wix, and look into marketplaces like Amazon. eBay and etsy. Once you’ve grown a little bit, you might be able to justify the outlay on a specialised website.
Test, Test, Test
The experience of visitors to your site will make an enormous difference to your conversion rate. Unexpected behaviour will bounce would-be customers swiftly back to the results page, and push them towards your competitors. This behaviour might take the form of obvious bugs, or it might take the form of subtler moments of confusion about pricing, options or shipping fees. Get your friends and family to test the site, and, if possible, get them to articulate what their problems are as they go through it.
Your testing should ideally run across multiple platforms. A sizeable chunk of online purchases are made through mobile devices, and you’ll need to be able to cater to those people, as well as the people using desktops and laptops. To complicate things further, we should bear in mind that there’s considerable variety when it comes to screen size, orientation, and viewing habits. Think about optimising your images for smaller screen sizes, making product descriptions snappier and making the checkout buttons clear and usable.
This is one of the reasons to prefer an off-the-shelf website that adapts automatically to a range of devices. That way you won’t need to worry about elements displaying correctly, saving mass amounts of development time and UX (user experience) testing.
Make sure you can take payment
If your website is unable to take payment from your customers, then your online venture isn’t going to be a successful one. PayPal is a standard for online businesses, but there are other methods too such as Stripe, or even Klarna to spread the payments. The more payment methods you accept, the greater the number of potential customers you’ll be able to appeal to. Taking payment over the internet, however, also presents an opportunity for fraudsters. It’s therefore also worth thinking about payment fraud prevention, even at the early stages, and making sure your website is secure.
Don’t neglect blogging
If you have an area of expertise, then you’ll be able to provide information to those who might be looking for it. The best way to do this is through regularly-scheduled blogs, articles and thought pieces. Find out which questions your customers are asking, and provide good answers to those questions. Once you’re drawing consistent traffic to your content, search engines will begin to promote it toward the top of the results pages-giving you more organic traffic from interested users.
For example, if you’re selling Chinese cookware, then you might pen a series of blogs on the proper way to care for a carbon-steel wok. Curious stir-fry fans are sure to come running, and a portion of them will stick around, especially if the quality of your advice is up to scratch.
Of the small businesses that launch around the world every year, only a small proportion will be able to last the test of time. Follow the advice we’ve run through here, and you’ll give yourself the best possible chance of drawing ahead of the pack!
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