E-commerce, Trends, User Experience

A Step-to-Step Guide How to Make Your E-Commerce More Successful

Starting a new business is even trickier than it seems. The market nowadays has changed significantly, and it’s not only the way you will be conducting business and acquiring clients that’s important, it’s also crucial to think about your online persona and to follow the trends of the new, competitive world. E-commerce is one of the most popular and most lucrative areas of business, and starting a new e-commerce can be quite challenging, especially if you are not very familiar with it. Paying attention to what you’re selling and providing excellent customer experience is not the simplest task.Without further ado, let’s see the things you need to know if you want to make your E-commerce business more successful, ranging from finding the right niche to introducing alternative payment options. Bear in mind that this is definitely something that is easier said than done as it takes a lot of hard work, devotion, and thinking outside of the box. On the bright side, nothing is impossible, and if you play your cards right, you might as well make your E-commerce business one of the most successful ones. Take a look at some Alternative Payment tips and tricks on how to do this.

“Find the market first, and then focus on a product” – Gary Halbert

How to choose the right niche?

Obviously, before you start to plan out your business and write your business plan, it would be a great idea to actually know what you’re going to do. There are plenty of people who unfortunately do not exactly know what their business will be about. There are also people who do not enter into the whole matter wholeheartedly, which is the first thing that you need to do – believe in yourself. But what are, apart from that, the things to know?

Do your research

The ground rule of any new start.

It doesn’t matter what you are starting; thorough research on the topic should be in place. Bear in mind that starting your own e-commerce business is an investment, and it should be treated as such. Apart from conducting different types of research, both online and offline, you can also use the services of different agencies that can consult you. But know that all of these cost, and you might have to cut some corners in order to establish your business. Focus on digital research, and Google Trends is one of the best tools that can help you with this. This tool will help you in finding out what the most common searches per country or per state are, but apart from that, it will also give you insight into what areas of the country you should focus your marketing campaign on, depending on the type of business you are after.  For example, if you want to sell guitars online, typing in the word “guitar” will give you a map of all the countries where this word was searched a lot. You will see that the top countries for guitar search areNepal, Sri Lanka, and the Philippines. This information about your product will furthermore tell you who to target, what kind of advertising you will have to go for, and if your E-commerce stands a chance.

Source: Google Trends

Follow your interests

Once you’re done with the research, you will get to see what your options are.

It’s when you finalize that part that your interests come into the game. Your interests play a big part in this as it’s crucial that you do business with something that you like and you’re interested in. More importantly, bear in mind that almost 25% of small businesses do not make it through the first year, which means that the pressure is high. Doing something you love and something you want to excel at is one of the most important reasons why you will do whatever it takes to succeed in business. Even according to various psychologists, loving your career and enjoying what you do is crucial for your success.

Find your business model

Next up, you will have to think carefully about the business model that you are going to go with. Contrary to popular belief, this is more than just creating your business plan, as it takes more to know what model you want for your business. You can either opt to run your business using the digital or the physical business model. Even though E-commerce companies mostly revolve around webshops and other examples of online presence, sometimes they can have an offline presence as well, meaning that customers can also order a product online and pick it up in the actual store. So, what do you really need to do in order to find the right business model for you?

  • Establish your business processes: This greatly depends on the type of services that you will be offering. Are you a company that’s providing some kind of service, are you selling or shipping products or are you offering consulting? These things differ greatly and thus the approach to a business model is unique for all three options.
  • Determine your values: Your values are also the things that differentiate you from your competition. Try to think about all the innovative things you are bringing to the game as these will say a lot about you.
  • Determine your business partners: Even though having business partners is not a must for creating a successful e-commerce business per se, there are people that you should have around in order for everything to run smoothly. A one-man show is not a good tactic for running a new business, as this will affect the relationship you have with your customers. Make sure that your suppliers, strategic alliances, and advertising consultants are people you trust.

Define your buyer persona

Selecting the right niche for your e-commerce depends a lot on the type of customers you want to attract. Not only will you have to think about the people who will be turning to your products because they need them, but you will also have the option of carefully narrowing down the clientele according to your needs and desires (especially if you want to be a bit more exclusive). The buyer persona is a semi-fictionalized representation of your potential customers that are created based on the market research information that you are going to get and the data about the existing customers as well. Why is this important? Because determining your buyer persona and knowing who your customers are can help you in finding out where you have to focus more time, more resources, and how to organize your business. In order to do this in the best possible way, you will have to know how to properly conduct market research also focus on the people you want to work for.

General store vs. Single product store

As far as the type of store is concerned, there is no right or wrong, but rather how you want to run your business.

Both general and single product stores have their own benefits and drawbacks, and it will take you, as the manager and owner of your e-commerce to figure out which one is the better option for you. Even though having a variety of different products might seem appealing, having a single product store will target a specific group of people. Take a look at the pros and the con for each:

Single Product Store

PROSCONS
Easier customer targeting Higher chance of failure
Conversion rate is higher It might require a bigger budget
The focus of the business is on one single product High risk of losing the market if there’s no demand
You can easily convert it into a brand Might not raise enough funds to keep the business going in the long run
It is easy to promote Customers might need your product only one time which can furthermore mean that a portion of your customers will not be coming back
Any research information will be gathered faster as it’s only one product in question

General Store

PROSCONS
More people will be reached as more products are sold in the store It will be difficult to convert it into a brand
Cross-selling No influencers collaborations will be very possible as you will have to choose which product to advertise
It will be more financially stable in the beginning Has more competition
There is the option of testing multiple niches with more products
Easy to set up

How to establish the brand?

90% of customers would buy something from an authentic brand.

Now that you have chosen your niche and that you have carefully thought about the nature of your E-commerce, it’s time to start thinking about how to establish your brand in the best possible way. Branding is one of the crucial things at the moment as far as business is concerned, as not only does it differentiate you from the competition and give you that small amount of advantage, but it is also something that might come in handy for your future career as well. Bear in mind that 90% of customers would buy something from an authentic brand. So, even though branding your business is not a must per se, it is one of the things you want to tick off from your business bucket list. These are the most important things to have in mind while establishing your brand:

Carefully choose the name

Not only is the name of your business crucial, but it’s also the part of setting up your business that it’s fun, exciting, and somewhat challenging. Choosing the right name is definitely easier said than done – there are so many businesses that had to rebrand their business only because they haven’t been thinking a lot about what the name of your business says about you. In order to make this easier, follow the following steps:

  1. Generate random name ideas – you can also focus on foreign words that have a specific meaning that you would like to convey through your products. For example, Nike is a brand name that’s derived from Nika, the Greek goddess of victory, and victory matches well with the sports attire that they sell. You can also try the association technique, meaning to brainstorm words and phrases that are associated with the type of business you’re in.
  2. See which of the names you have generated are simple – this is something that cannot be emphasized enough. Simple names are catchy names, and this is exactly what you need for your business. Long and complicated names have never given any good results.
  3. Check the availability of the name – this is something that can easily slip our minds, but it can affect our business greatly. It is very important not to have a business with a similar or same name, especially if you operate in the same area of business
  4. See how it matches with your design – as the last thing to check before you settle with your brand name is how it reacts with your design. Ask somebody to help you with the logo (or use the services of a graphic designer) and see if your name can be fit nicely into the whole picture.

Choose the right domain

Even though the domain name is not among the priorities of businesses that operate offline, it might be something to think about if you want to establish your E-commerce business. As far as this is concerned, do not trust just anyone – there are things you need to take into account before you buy a domain for your business. Despite plenty of new options for domain names, the most popular domain extension is still .com, so this is an idea that you can go within case the domain for your brand name is available. Popular domains such as .net, and .org follow. However, it would be wise to think about the localization – if your business is mostly focused on one part of your country, or a specific town, you might want to use that in the name. The domain name that you create (which does not necessarily have to include only the name of your brand) should also be very easy to pronounce. Finally, do some market research on the domain name and think about the type of business as well. Choosing the .edu or the .org domain extension if you sell clothing or any type of equipment. It is also important to know how SEO and your domain work together in order to enhance your business performance, but more on SEO a bit later.

Focus on the branding

The branding process is more than just picking your name and having someone design your logo and your website.

The branding is what differentiates Coca Cola from a local juice manufacturer, for example. There are several steps to creating a successful brand, and each article gives something new to the picture, but according to the Yellow Pages for Business website, there are the 4 most important ones:

  1. Perception: Make sure that you know how you want to be perceived, and be vocal about it. Openly state what your strengths are.
  2. Promises: Always keep your promises, especially in the beginning.
  3. Advertising: This is a tremendously important step into creating the perfect branding. Apart from the logo, the colors, and the merchandise that you have to include, you will need to focus a lot on your social media presence (which we will focus on a bit further in the text).
  4. Consistency: Stay consistent with what you want and true to your brand. If you establish your brand in a certain way, make sure that you follow your standards and never lower them as this might turn out to be detrimental for your business.

Choose the right platform

You probably know that the popularity of e-commerce is growing steadily every year, but did you know that online sales jumped up to 15% in 2019 compared to 2018? This means that e-commerce now accounts for 16% of total retail sales! One way to play this game is the old-school option, meaning to hire a web developer in order to get your business up and running, but even though this option is very safe, it can be very pricey, especially if you’re just starting your business or you’re at the very beginning. Another option is to opt for an e-commerce platform, which is an amazing way not only to save money but also the time as most of them are very user-friendly and can be set up shortly. Just to be on the safe side, take a look at some of the most popular e-commerce platforms, and so that you would not have to try them all out, we came down with some of the pros and cons to make this choice easier for you. There is also an option of choosing a payment widget that will improve the customer experience.

Shopify

Shopify is perhaps the biggest and the most popular E-commerce platform also because of the fact that it is standalone, meaning that you will not have to actually host your website somewhere in order to use it.

PROSCONS
User-friendly The templates can be pricy – 20 of them are free, while the others can come up to $180
Can be set up in just moments Advanced options cost $299/month
Plenty of themes you can choose from Unless you use Shopify Payment, you will get charged additional transaction fees for each sale
Affordable price (the basic option is $29/month) It controls your E-commerce store and your website’s data instead of you
Free trial of 14 days
Can be used both online and offline
Plenty of payment options (PayPal, Stripe, cash on delivery)

WooCommerce

If you know your way around WordPress, then WooCommerce is just the platform that you might need as this is actually a plugin for online stores. According to them, 39% of web’s online stores use their services.

PROSCONS
Free plugin It’s not standalone, which means you will have extra expenses when it comes to domain and hosting
Easy to use (if you’re familiar with WordPress) The setting-up process can take up to a few hours (depending on how much you’re familiar with WordPress)
Compatible with any WordPress themes The storage is not limited by the platform, but by your web host
Payments via PayPal and Stripe are built-in, while there are also other options available
A wide range of products and product categories
You have total control
Offers plugins to optimize your website for SEO

Magento

Magento is yet another platform that you might want to consider, especially as plenty of businesses use its services and are very satisfied with it. It is also a great platform to go with if you’re interested in optimizing your website with SEO.

PROSCONS
Very responsive and scalable The customization is complex and you might need a developer
Since it’s an open-source platform, you are able to customize plenty of things You will have to find a hosting provider and buy a domain name
Offers a lot of extensions and apps No 24/7 customer support
The software is free
There are no transaction fees
Completely SEO friendly

BigCommerce

Moreover, you can also opt for BigCommerce, which is a platform that is great for people who are in search of good SEO optimization and quick growth.

PROSCONS
No hosting Shortage of free themes when compared with other platforms
You will be not charged a transaction fee The option of recurring billing is not directly built-in into the platform, but you will have to do it yourself
Your website can be easily built
Very SEO-friendly

 

How to start building your business traffic?

Now that you have set up the basics it’s time to turn to marketing.

Building traffic is perhaps the key thing you need to excel at if you want for your e-commerce business to thrive. In order to do this in the best possible, you would have to familiarize yourself with the following:

SEO

One of the most popular ways of using the internet to advertise your brand is by actually optimizing your website so that more people come across it while browsing online or searching certain keywords. According to Conductor, 64% of all web traffic comes from organic search, which means that more than double the traffic you have on your website is a product of your search engine optimization. In order to do this properly, you will have to, at first, analyze all your website data. This will tell you the sex of the people using your services, what countries visit your website the most, what age group the majority of your customers are. After this, make sure to conduct thorough keyword research. What are the words that most people search for, and what words should you implement in your texts to attract more traffic? Another thing very important to ensure is quality and value-rich content on your website. Short blog posts are no longer that effective – you want a blog post of around 1600 words (this one is a lot larger but it’s a step-to-step guide, so it’s forgiven!)

Social media

Your social media can also affect your website traffic significantly. Apart from letting your brand be seen on platforms such as Instagram (which is right now the most important advertising platform), it can also bring plenty of potential customers to your website. Platforms such as Facebook and Twitter have the option of directly sending the reader to your website, where they can continue reading through the article or seeing the products that you’re selling. However, Instagram is a bit different, as it doesn’t allow clickable links unless you have less than 10K followers. This means that you will have to pay special attention to the content you will be posting on Instagram. There are plenty of tips and tricks to help you gather more followers on this platform, such as paying attention to the aesthetics of your profile to posting engaging content.

Lead generation

What is also important to bear in mind is to attract the people who once showed interest in your company’s product. If you installed a certain contact form on your website, or if you acquired the email addresses of potential customers, now it would be a good time to actually put that to use. Job application newsletters, blog posts, or coupons are an amazing way to gather more traffic and eventually end up with a larger number of customers. While this is not actually the process of gaining customers per se, it is one of the best ways to warm up potential people into what you’re offering.

PPC

PPC stands for Pay-per-click and you have been seeing examples of this all over the internet, especially on Google. Pay-per-click is, in a way, a process of you actually “buying” a certain number of people coming to your website, as you will pay a small fee to the search engine for each click that leads to your website. Now, this might seem like an investment that can go both ways, but it’s important to know that if PPC is done right, this fee is trivial as the sole customer’s visit is worth it. If you pay, for example, $3 for a click and that customers buy a product of  $100, you’re definitely gaining something for it. There are three things that you need to pay attention to when PPC is concerned.

  • The keyword relevance, as you will need to create the proper text and think of the right keyword so that your website comes up when people search for things on search engines;
  • The landing page quality as your page needs to be very representative, otherwise, plenty of people will just close your webpage which means that you will still pay for that specific click;
  • The copy, as it’s this that will make your customers click on the ad that’s on display.

How to increase conversion rate?

The final thing you will have to worry about is something that will definitely bring plenty of returning customers.  It has probably happened to you many times that you see something in a webstore that you like, then you add several other things to the list, and then when you hit the  “purchase” button you have no option to pay in the desired way. Opting for alternative payment options is one of the best things to do in this case as it will generate more customers, and more importantly, it will create a feeling of trust with the customers that have already purchased from your website. Not only will you be gathering more traffic and more customers, but you will also earn more as the volume of your purchases will certainly increase. It is important to know which alternative payment methods you need to work with, but this is something that can easily be done during the market research phase.

Conclusion

Knowing how to start your e-commerce business and making it more successful is one of the things that are easier said than done. There is a lot more to think about then what’s in black and white, but it’s very important to know that everything is possible, and all that it takes is a strong will, devotion, thinking outside of the box, and listening to the people’s needs. Always put the needs of your customers before your own, and walk a mile in their own shoes to see what it is you need. When you add thorough market research, and good advertising to the mix, you cannot go wrong.