We spend a great deal of time online – that isn’t news. From email to social media to just surfing, each of us spends hours upon hours every week on the web. More and more shopping is taking place online as well, and entrepreneurs are itching to get a piece of the action. It’s a great time to take the leap into ecommerce sales, but you have to do it the right way or risk being swallowed up by the competition. Looking for ideas on how to launch the perfect online business? You’ve come to the right place.
Think Local First
Rather than trying to open a massive marketplace full of mainstream items à la Amazon, think about what you can offer that’s uniquely local. Find a particular saying, clothing style, greeting, or other oddity that’s quintessentially “your town,” and run with that. The Keep Austin Weird line from Tyler’s Racquet and Jog is an excellent example of this concept. Their t-shirts, mugs, bumper stickers, and more are sought after by Austin residents past, present, and future because they’ve captured the quirky vibe of the city. Even a local landmark or piece of art can be inspiration for your products – just make sure to watch out for copyright infringement.
This is more of a cautionary tale of what NOT to do. Your first products in your online store should be easy to make and ship, with none of the logistical headaches that plague intricate, fragile items. While you’re still working out how your supply chain and order fulfillment funnels work, don’t add additional chaos to the mix. Start by shipping out delicate porcelain baubles and you’ll quickly end up with a pile of damaged returns. Stuff breaks in transit – it happens. But don’t let it happen to you right away.
Be wary, too, of shipping costs. Large, strangely shaped items will take up a lot of room in your storage facility and cost you a pretty penny to ship. Ask the customer to pay for shipping to combat this problem, and you’ll be looking at a whole lot of abandoned carts. Start small. There will be time to get adventurous later.
If It’s Popular, Someone Already Does It Better Than You
It’s going to be tempting to stock your store full of items that everyone seems to need all the time (think spare USB cables and headphones) or that everyone’s talking about (drones, smart appliances, etc.), but if an item is flying off the shelves somewhere else, chances are that somewhere else has already figured out how to source and ship it more effectively than you. Get your feet wet first, then face the competition head on when you’re good and ready.
On a related note, consider specializing in just one very specific item. Your audience will shrink, but you’re more likely to become a household name amongst those who need that item. For example, rather than deciding to open a clothing store, decide that you will only sell swimsuits designed for water sports – and get very, very good at it. You’ll have surfers, volleyball plyers, and more lining up at your doors – and they’ll tell your friends about you, too.
Give the People What They Want
Everyone knows they need groceries. They know they need socks and underwear. But no one gets great joy out of shopping for these things. While there are brands out there who are trying to make shopping for necessities a fun experience, in most cases your best bet will be to offer products that make customers feel good. You’ll capitalize on impulse buys and give your customers a satisfied feeling that will have them coming back again and again.
You are Not (Just) Your Product
So far in this post we’ve focused on what products you should stock in your online store, but in your heart of hearts you probably know your brand is more than that. For instance, you might sell hardware but know that you’re also very good at refurbishing old tools. You might sell digital cameras, but know that you also have a lot of knowledge about how to take great photos. Offer a tool repair service or a photography class as an add-on to the products you sell and watch your sales rise. By adding value to each transaction, you’re creating customers for life.
Make Sure Your Buying Experience is Top-Notch
Nothing can tank a brand-new ecommerce business like a poor checkout experience. We’ve written about this topic before, but it bears repeating – if it’s not easy to buy, customers will go somewhere else. Part of creating a smooth online shopping experience is working with a payments partner who can give you the features you want and the security you need. We’d love to show you how we facilitate awesome ecommerce experiences every day. Give us a call at 1-855-360-0360 or drop us a line on our website to learn more!
PS – Once you’ve got the basics down, check out these additional ways to take your ecommerce store to the next level.
PPS – Make sure your online payments system is up to the challenge here.