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Are you about to start a e-commerce business from scratch? Well, you surely have to invest time and efforts into Growing A Core Niche Audience, as our founder and managing partner, Terry Tateossian, explains. Differentiating from your top competitors and communicating your unique competitive advantage to a niche target audience is the first step towards claiming your bit of the given vertical market. Read on the full article to learn more valuable insights and tips.
(The Expert Panel was initially published at Forbes.)
As the pandemic continues, many companies have pivoted to online-only sales in an effort to not only survive and avoid disruptions, but also keep employees and customers safe. Aspiring entrepreneurs who are considering changing their business plans to launch companies online rather than in brick-and-mortar spaces need to understand that it takes more than a digital storefront to create a thriving e-commerce enterprise.
Here, eight successful business owners from Young Entrepreneur Council explore smart approaches to developing a competitive e-commerce business from scratch.
1. Put As Much Effort As You Would Into A Real Store
First and foremost, just because the medium is different doesn’t mean your thinking has to be. You just have to translate it into digital. If you’re running a storefront, you know location and awareness are everything. Instead of an address, think about where people are searching and “set up shop” where they are looking for your service or product. Sometimes that could be on Yelp, Etsy or some kind of online directory such as Angie’s List or Avvo (if you’re a lawyer). Look up tips and try your best to optimize your listing, just as you’d spend time and sweat making your brick-and-mortar welcoming to customers. Remember, this is your space; it’s worth the time and effort to make sure everything looks good for when someone visits. – Richard Fong, Ready Green
One of the most critical yet overlooked components of a successful e-commerce business is a passionate and enthusiastic core niche audience that loves the unique or personalized product you have to offer. The majority of small businesses that go online will compete with the likes of Amazon, Walmart and Target. Most sites cannot beat these behemoths in the search engines using brute-force techniques, so the mission would be to ensure that you have a unique product, a strong passionate core audience wanting to purchase the product and the ability to reach them. Once you establish these benchmarks, it’s all about customer service and experience. So make sure you nail those down as well. – Terry Tateossian, Socialfix Media
3. Target Mobile-First Audiences
The market today for e-commerce is mobile, personal and engaging. A lot of the tools to sell your product online are readily available if you take the time to learn how to maximize them. Your marketing initiatives can seamlessly be optimized for mobile through Facebook ads, Instagram ads or Google ads. – Solomon Thimothy, OneIMS
4. Leverage Existing Services
If you are not in the technology space, don’t rebuild products that already exist as services. For example, if you are selling to consumers, use Shopify instead of setting up your own e-commerce website from scratch—unless, of course, you have a very good reason to build it all yourself. Once you have the basics done, get traffic; Google and Facebook ads are generally a good first place to start. Make sure to pay particular attention to the keywords you use, the copy you use and the demographics you are targeting to make sure you get this right. It’s only after you get these basics right that you need to worry about more complicated things, such as abandoned carts. – Ashwin Sreenivas, Helia
5. Pick The Right Distribution Channels
The No. 1 component you need to bring your business online is distribution. How will you reach your audience? If you can sell on Amazon (i.e., rank high for certain searches), for example, you’re likely ready to go. Simply putting a website up and hoping people will come isn’t going to work. I would start by thinking about how you can reach your target audience, perhaps by looking at peripheral products, and then deeply researching how to win in this growth channel. Some distribution channels may work right away (eBay, Amazon, etc.), whereas others, such as SEO, may take months of preparation. – Cody Candee, Bounce
6. Get Leads For Low Overheads
As we have entered into a realm of social distancing, a cashless society and increased precautionary measures by governments, it has caused an increased demand in the e-commerce business industry. Many say that this is a new normal, and brick-and-mortar businesses may never open again. So it’s imperative to know certain strategies and methods at the early stage to seize the opportunity. It doesn’t matter how much money you spend on landing pages, web design, customer experience, software, etc.; if you don’t get leads for low overheads, you’ll surely face major challenges during the initial burst. So once you’ve chosen a niche and have built a website/store selling a product/service around that niche, hire an expert who can get leads without throwing money out the window. – Kelly Richardson, Infobrandz
7. Focus On Your Content Creation
There are many necessary components that go into building an online business. But the important thing is to focus on your content creation efforts. Along with building your e-commerce site, make sure that you’re building an email list and sending timely and informative emails. Your newsletters should contain offers, discounts or other helpful information. As you nurture your email list, you’ll create potential purchases in the future and can even boost them in the present too. So focus on content marketing along with building your e-commerce site to make it more successful. – Blair Williams, MemberPress
8. Allocate Capital Strategically
Whether you are a startup or an existing business looking to compete in today’s more-digital-than-ever landscape, doing e-commerce right is vital. Components of online success include a solid strategy, the right resources (i.e., people with the right marketing and technical skills) and an unwavering focus on the details during execution. From our CFO’s perspective, what can kill an e-commerce transition is poorly allocated capital. Why build an expensive, fancy website when you can get the industry-standard site from Shopify? Don’t sink your working capital into mobile apps or additional features until your customers show interest in those. Don’t go overboard on inventory; make sure it keeps pace with demand and doesn’t exceed it. Start small and make iterations as you go. – Jeff Keenan, LeadsRx