The future of ecommerce is bright. Sales online exceeded $4 trillion dollars worldwide in 2020.
This has continued to grow as the pandemic has created new buyer habits and many are here to stay! But starting an ecommerce business is hard work and entails many steps and decisions along the way. Bridgete Combrinck is a product-based entrepreneur with 13 years of experience and a proven track record. Here is her ten-step framework for starting your ecommerce business:
Choose a product
The first step to building an ecommerce business is knowing what products to sell. This is often the most challenging part of the process so be prepared to spend a decent amount of time brainstorming and researching. Your product should always solve a problem. Find a product category you are interested in, have some knowledge in and most importantly are passionate about.
Validate your product
Once you have a product in mind you need to make sure it will sell. Do your research and conduct competitor analysis. Look at trends, demand, and market size. Most importantly, speak to your ideal customers and ask if they would be interested in buying your product and get as much feedback from them as possible.
Find your Unique Selling Point (USP)
Competition is a natural part of business, especially for ecommerce where it’s not just the local competitors you need to be aware of. What makes your product different and better than the competition? It’s not necessarily the product that has to be unique, it could be the message you choose to focus on that your competition doesn’t. You could look to change one of these four dimensions to create your USP: design, function, price, or time.
Identify your target market
You can’t afford to market to everyone. Know who your target market is. Use customer personas to gather information about your ideal customers so you know where to find them and how to sell to them using the correct messaging.
Build your audience on social media
This is the best way to organically reach potential customers. Start this as soon as possible so when you launch you don’t launch to crickets. You don’t physically need your product to start posting and building your audience about the product. Take them on a journey with you throughout the process, after all people buy from people. Focus on the platforms where your ideal customers hang out.
Find a manufacturer and place an order
You obviously want to find a reputable manufacturer. Try and keep the development and first order of your product local if possible. This will keep your costs down and the turnaround will generally be quicker. Sourcing from abroad often means higher minimum quantity orders and can take a couple of months to arrive amongst other logistical issues.
Build your email waiting list
Conversion rates on email are greater than those on social media and websites. Incentivise your followers on social media to sign up to your email waiting list. This is your greatest asset when it comes to launching.
Build your store and choose your sales channels
One of the best ways to reach new customers is to choose sales channels where they already shop. The right mix of sales channels will depend on your products and ideal customers, but together with your own-hosted store, this will support and complement your product visibility.
Decide on your marketing strategy
This will determine how visible your products are. After all, it is a numbers game, and you need as many eyes as possible on your products to make a decent bottom line. Decide which organic marketing and paid for advertising strategies you are going to use. Be prepared for a little trial and error when testing these out.
Launch your product
The key to launching your product is to create some hype and excitement before and during your launch. Ensure your website is working seamlessly, populate it with some reviews, grow your email waiting list, set up your email campaign and launch!
This basic framework is just the beginning. Building an ecommerce business is as exciting as it is challenging. Being consistent is paramount! The process can be overwhelming at times, but it’s so rewarding. Get started and enjoy the process.
About the author
Bridgete Combrinck is a product-based entrepreneur with 13 years of experience and a proven track record of success. Now helping other like-minded entrepreneurs start, build and scale ecommerce business.
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