Starting an eCommerce business can be hard. There are a lot of moving parts that must be managed in order to guarantee success. Don’t worry, in this post, we will go over the 7 things every ecommerce entrepreneur should know to get started.
#1 Source a Reliable Supplier
As an eCommerce business, you are going to need a product to sell. I assume you already know what your product is. Suppliers are numerous and have various forms of sales. Often these suppliers will sell products through wholesale distribution. This will allow you as an eCommerce company to buy in bulk and sell individually online. If your product is one of your own inventions, you are going to need to either invest the time and money into doing the manufacturing yourself, an endeavor which can be very costly, or you may want to look into using a contract manufacturer. Contract manufacturers create white labeled (private labeled) products for multiple businesses and often have the equipment necessary for scalable production.
It is wise to get quotes from several different factories and suppliers concerning your product. Remember you owe it to your customers to give them the best product possible at the right price for you and them. Choose the one that will work best with you and trust your gut.
#2 Finalize Packaging and Branding
I spent much of my professional career in packaging sells and as someone who is experienced with the industry, I can tell you that it is always an afterthought. Packaging tends to be the last thing people think about, but it can provide one of the most important wow factors to your customers and give your brand legitimacy. For this step I would suggest reaching out to one of three sources. First is a local packaging distribution company. There are probably quite a few in your state. The second would be to talk to your contract manufacturer. The third and last source I would speak to is your local fulfillment center. They often have packaging experience and can help you navigate the waters of shipping items safely.
#3 Create Your Website
Assuming by this point you have decided your business name, logo and have determined which products you would like to sell, it’s time to take your brand online. The internet is a massive resource for your business and should never be taken lightly. It’s important to keep in mind that there are 380 websites created every minute! In order to be seen you must understand that marketing and web development will take much of your time. However, as an eCommerce business, this is the lifeblood of your company.
First and foremost, you are going to need a website. If you are bootstrapping your business and want to save some money, there are quite a few free website platforms that make it simple to set one up yourself. If you have some extra cash and would rather spend more of your time on other things you can hire a website developer to help.
#4 Establish a Scalable Supply Chain
This is a step that a lot of entrepreneurs overlook at first. Does it make sense to wait for a terrible rainstorm until you buy new windshield wipers? No, by that time it is too late. This is how a lot of ecommerce entrepreneurs feel when they first start their business. They decide to do everything themselves.
Figuring out all of the shipping logistics from shipping labels, expedited shipping, and packaging the product to physically taking all of those boxes to the post office to be delivered can be a daunting task. If your product sells as well as you hope, you will be one busy bee taking care of all the ecommerce fulfillment and shipping.
Keep in mind that you will be doing more than just shipping your products. You will need to coordinate deliveries from your manufacturers, handle product returns, navigate shipping costs, manage packaging inventories, etc. All of this will need to be done while you are simultaneously building your online presence, developing new products and managing employees.
Hence the analogy of being in a torrential downpour before deciding to buy windshield wipers. Think ahead. If you project your product having great success find a fulfillment warehouse to help you take care of your shipping needs.
#5 Understand Your Market
In one of my previous blogs I help you identify your target market. I cannot underscore this principle more. You MUST understand your market. Many businesses fail because they fail to understand their market. They navigate their business in the wrong direction and end up wasting thousands of dollars. If you do not know who your product will appeal to, do not spend a penny on advertising until you expand your research. Remember, it’s important as a new business that your advertising dollars are spent with laser accuracy.
#6 Advertise, Advertise, Advertise
By now you have your product in stock and ready to ship. There is one obstacle standing between you and your product getting into the hands of your customers. Your potential customers need to know about your product. No one is going to buy something they don’t know anything about or have never heard of. You have to get your product in front of as many people as possible.
There are quite a few advertising platforms that you can tap into for little to no cost. For instance:
- Social media (Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, Vimeo, etc.)
- SEO content marketing
- Word of mouth marketing.
As your online presence begins to grow from some of these organic methods, you can begin to utilize paid advertising, such as:
Whatever you decide to do the goal is the same, Get your products in front of as many people as possible. In order to improve those odds, these efforts must be directed towards the person who will purchase your products. This is achieved through target marketing.
-Listen to Feedback
Ask for and seek feedback on your customer’s experience with purchasing your product. Do they like your product? How did they feel when purchasing your product? Do they find the interface of your website easy to navigate? What are their complaints? Did their product arrive on time? Ask Ask Ask. The sooner you can figure out what your customer doesn’t like about your product and their purchasing experience, the sooner you can adapt and make it better.
#7 Keep Existing Customers Happy
Now that you have established a customer base it is imperative that you keep those customers happy. Think outside the box. What else can you offer that would be valuable to make your customers come back again and again?
Come up with a list of ideas and then start implementing them. Remember, advertising costs money. Your goal should always be to keep your customer acquisition costs below your return on investment. Keeping a current customer happy and providing them with a great experience is cheaper in the long run.
We covered a decent amount of information in this post. Use it to get your eCommerce business up and running. You’ve got this! If you would like more information about fulfillment companies in Utah, check out Launch Fulfillment to take care of all your fulfillment and shipping needs.