Have you been dreaming of your startup for eons now, and can’t wait to quit your job and to start it off?
Tempting as the thought may be to dedicate yourself full time to your dream business, it is a good practice to have all things in place before you jump the ship.
In 2019, there are over 1.66 billion digital buyers globally; this depicts a pool of the potential buyers. With online retail booming every year, there is no better time than today to start your e-commerce set-up. Doing a business online is a bit complicated – no matter what great ideas you have, if you don’t generate enough traffic for your website, your business can flop.
Checklist to Start an E-commerce Business
Before you start your business, you need to have your business plan. Identify the kind of company you are going to be, and the services that you are going to sell. What comes next? The following list will help you mark off the items as you go about getting things ready for your dream venture.
Start with a Business Name
Doubtless, this is one of the most important steps after you decide what you are going to sell, and have identified your niche market. Your name has to be simple yet memorable, remarkable and not-taken. Yes, that is one huge task, for the Internet space is filled with businesses and seemingly all the best names are gone. Aren’t singers still coming up with new compositions though, and artists with novel ideas? Then you can come up with your identity too.
The process includes looking at available URLs and making sure that your name isn’t already adopted by businesses on social media. Then, you have to ensure that you stick to clear names that are easy to spell and sound impressive to your potential clients too!
Your Online Presence
This step is daunting in terms of finance and decision-making. You need a bold website, with an enticing copy that sells your product. In order to do this, you have to choose website designers or an e-commerce agency that can handle this matter for you. Your e-commerce website has to be user-friendly and its design ought to focus your target audience. There has to be functioning search options, and easy navigation.
With a good agency, your site needs will be sufficiently taken care of including website design and security. The buyers ought to be able to submit their email addresses and make purchases within a few clicks to ensure best conversion rates.
You also need a strong, unapologetic presence on the social media. Every social media platform has not been created the same, so you have different demographics for each one. You need to use your background research regarding your target audience and your potential competitors in the market to choose which platform(s) (Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, etc.) will work best for your market, and then focus on investing in resources for effective marketing via that platform.
Finance It Well
If you chose a marketing design agency for creating a website, then this one is a no-brainer; you require an e-commerce agency (unless you hired one for the last as well!). Cash flow is of primary importance so steps will have to be taken to capitalize the business to keep it smoothly sailing. Steve Henley, senior managing director and national tax practice leader at Cbiz MHM, says: "A good cash-forecasting tool is critical so that you can plan for the sources and uses of cash on a rolling basis."
Now, there are many e-commerce software out there, but your agency will take care of this one for you. You might want one that takes care of inventory management system and marketing tools. You will also need a credit card merchant account – an account with a bank or other financial institution that allows you to accept your shoppers’ credit card numbers.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Pay Per Click (PPC) Advertising
SEO is a marketing tool to drive up your rankings on a search engine results page (SERP) without paying for it. The process includes using the right keywords in your content, including relevant links to your site etc. It takes time though. Since it is constantly evolving and tricky, not everyone can claim to be an expert either.
However, once you are on the road with SEO-friendly content, you may be able to keep it going by your team only. A simple way to start would be producing content on your website that is relevant to your theme/business and is useful to the people. There is nothing like getting expert, useful content for free to improve traffic and rankings.
Marketers and business owners create ads that appear on SERP when certain words are searched by the user. They will then have to pay the search engine every time someone clicks on their ad. This is known as PPC marketing/advertising. Smart entrepreneurs make sure that their money is being put to good use by ensuring that their conversion rate also goes up. This refers to the number of times someone takes an action on their webpage/website like submitting an email address for a newsletter.
A Web Analytics Package
You already know about conversion rates now, but how do you find out if it’s working, or what is prompting your website’s visitor into taking an action? A web analytics program will tell you how a person is using your site – the keywords they used to land on your website, their use of the site, and what pages they visit. These statistics will help you tailor your content and marketing to fit the needs of your clients.
Get an Email Subscription
How many times have we entered our email addresses on websites for some free recipe, software trial, video tutorial or a newsletter? Remember conversion rates? Getting your potential customer’s email address means they are pausing long enough on your webpage to take an action and are trusting you with their address!
Use this subscription wisely to give away the product/service they need. The list of your subscribers also lets you know their profile for targeted a specific marketing. You should also subscribe to your competitors’ website to keep up with their content and maintain a competitive edge over them.
Back-End Sales and Upselling
A front-end sale is your first one, and definitely the most difficult. Once your client makes that first purchase, the subsequent ones are known as back-end sales. It is said that at least 36% of the first-time buyers will go on to make another purchase from you. Upselling is when you try to induce your buyer to make an extra purchase, like an add-on of fries or shake to go with the hamburger you just ordered!
Back-end sales and upselling can be used to get the customer to increase your sales and drive up profits, by leading them to related options or complimentary gifts on another purchase.
Once you have your content marketing strategy and branding under control, focus on driving your sales through monetized traffic. Focus your energy on all the steps you need to take to start off with a new venture. Tick off all the items in the checklist if you have done all the preparation. The pointers above are enough to allow you to take that first flight in launching a business and making it successful.