Ross Andrews ACA shares the key elements to starting an e-commerce business and the benefits that come along with it.
E-commerce has become one of the most popular and fastest growing business models. It's scalable, profitable and fairly budget friendly compared to physical retail locations. That's because big ticket expenses such as rent can be avoided by simply working remotely, potentially from the comfort of your own home.
That said, embarking on an ecommerce start-up is like any other business, hard work. Just like other start-up ventures, it takes a considerable amount of innovation, time, and business planning.
The business fundamentals remain the same regardless of whether you’re opening a brick and mortar retail location or an internet based one:
Depending on what kind of e-commerce business you’re planning on starting the requirements for all of the above will differ.
As you can imagine, planning is a significant part of starting and scaling a business. Your strategy is reflected in the business plan that you develop which will cover every detail from business name to market research and beyond.
One of the benefits of starting your e-commerce business is that with lower overhead costs you'll be able to test your idea during the beginning stages without the same heavy financial commitment that often goes with starting in a physical retail location. Of course you'll want to perform your start-up due diligence before jumping in and building your online presence.
Once you have a solid plan in place and you've tested your business ideas, you'll want to start thinking about your launch and how you'll keep your online business going day-to-day.
Some aspects to think about include:
Shipping and fulfilment requirements: How will you provide the best service to your customers when it comes to delivering them their purchased products? Remember, clarity is key! Be sure to outline your shipping and returns policy on your website.
Spreading the word: It's great that you've put the time and effort into designing a great product and building a user friendly website...but how will people know about it? You'll want to consider implementing a marketing and outreach strategy that is backed by market research to ensure you're reaching the right audience.
Defining your KPIs: Your key performance indicators will demonstrate how effectively your business is achieving key objectives and your overall performance. Your KPIs will vary depending on what goals and objectives you've established and the critical success factors (CSF) you've outlined.
Most commonly you will see KPIs separated into specific metrics, including:
People or Employees
Process or Service
A vital part in using KPIs is understanding how to measure their effectiveness, things like revenue, efficiency, and customer service are just some of the areas you may track. But how do you calculate a key performance indicator? After defining your specific goals you'll want to implement or work with your existing analytic systems to track the data relating to your KPI performance.
You’ll want to make sure you’re working with a system that:
Has an easy to access and comprehend dashboard with all your relevant data
Provides an overview of your business and its KPIs at a glance
Can connect with external services or technology if necessary so that data collected in one software program providing you with accurate data
Offers instant reports and/or KPI alerts
Takes into consideration your business financials and VAT regulations so that your business remains compliant
Is easy to set goals depending on the industry and your business needs
Like any form of business, whether it's in person or online, customers are your key to growth and success. It's not just about selling the product; it's about understanding the people buying it. Individuals are more likely to buy from a company that they trust, and of course spread the word!
Think about how you market your products, how you build strong, long lasting relationships with your customers, and what they are saying about your business. Are you receiving good reviews? Reviews are what potential customers trust the most when it comes to e-commerce and this is key to growing your customer base.
Now that we've dealt with the initial tips for starting an e-commerce business, here are 7 quick tips to make your ecommerce store a success:
Design an easy to use website
Don't forget to make your website mobile friendly!
Make sure you're active on social media
Attract potential customers with ads and landing pages
Offer advice, updates or news through thoughtfully written blogs
Implement a solid content and marketing strategy
Share testimonials & reviews from customers
The content of this post is up to date and relevant as at 06/08/2019.
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