Growing a successful e-commerce business has never been easy!
As an entrepreneur, getting into e-commerce is a significant step towards growing a business and increasing profits. For those who are just starting a business, e-commerce can potentially be the foundation of a profitable company. Whichever you are, know that e-commerce is not simply putting up your products online and hoping for the best.
Like any business, there are always hundreds of things to do, but only so much time and money to go around. And even if you have made solid plans to tackle all of these issues, emergencies will derail you.
To succeed in business today, you need to be flexible and have good planning and organizational skills.
In this article, we will discuss about e-commerce and its strategies to manage e-commerce business so that you can turn your e-commerce store into a massive business.
What is E-commerce?
E-commerce, also known as electronic commerce or internet commerce, refers to the buying and selling of goods or services using the internet, and the transfer of money and data to execute these transactions.
E-commerce is often used to refer to the sale of physical products online, but it can also describe any kind of commercial transaction that is facilitated through the internet. These business transactions occur either as business-to-business (B2B), business-to-consumer (B2C), consumer-to-consumer, or consumer-to-business.
Whereas e-business refers to all aspects of operating an online business, e-commerce refers specifically to the transaction of goods and services.
E-commerce is now ubiquitous to businesses in developed countries, but developing countries have yet to catch up with its adoption. However, things have been coming along as e-commerce has started to grow in a big way throughout Asia, especially in China.
Features of E-commerce Business
Some of the features of Online Business are as follows :
- It is easy to set up
- There are no geographical boundaries
- Much cheaper than traditional business
- There are flexible business hours
- Marketing strategies cost less
- Online business receive subsidies from the government
- There are a few security and integrity issues
- There is no personal touch
- Buyer and seller don’t meet
- Delivery of products takes time
- There is a transaction risk
- Anyone can buy anything from anywhere at anytime
- The transaction risk is higher than traditional business
Types of E-commerce
We can actually divide e-commerce into six major types, all with different characteristics.
1. Business-to-Business (B2B)
In a B2B business model, a business sells its product or service to another business. Sometimes the buyer is the end-user, but often the buyer resells to the consumer.
B2B transactions generally have a longer sales cycle, but a higher-order value and more recurring purchases.
2. Business-to-Consumer (B2C)
B2C businesses sell to their end-user. The B2C model is the most common business model, so there are many unique approaches under this umbrella.
Anything you buy in an online store as a consumer — think wardrobe, household supplies, entertainment — is done as part of a B2C transaction.
3. Consumer-to-Consumer (C2C)
Consumer-to-Consumer (C2C) type e-commerce encompasses all electronic transactions of goods or services conducted between consumers.
Generally, these transactions are conducted through a third party, which provides the online platform where the transactions are actually carried out.
4. Consumer-to-Business (C2B)
C2B businesses allow individuals to sell goods and services to companies.
In this e-commerce model, a site might allow customers to post the work they want to be completed and have businesses bid for the opportunity. Affiliate marketing services would also be considered C2B.
5. Business-to-Administration (B2A)
This part of e-commerce encompasses all transactions conducted online between companies and public administration.
This is an area that involves a large amount and a variety of services, particularly in areas such as fiscal, social security, employment, legal documents, and registers, etc.
6. Consumer-to-Administration (C2A)
The Consumer-to-Administration model encompasses all electronic transactions conducted between individuals and public administration.
Advantages of E-commerce
- The main advantage of e-commerce is its ability to reach a global market, without necessarily implying a large financial investment.
- E-commerce eliminates the need for physical stores and allows businesses to expand their customer base
- Business can also save money on rent, utilities, maintenance, and other costs associated with physical stores
- Digital products can be sold online with little-to-no overhead cost
- E-commerce also allows your business to scale up easier than physical retailers
- Keeping in contact with customers is often easier for e-commerce businesses
- The benefits consumers enjoy are shared by e-commerce companies when it comes to the supply chain
- E-commerce allows your business to track logistics, which is key to
Disadvantages of E-commerce
- Strong dependence on information and communication technologies (ICT);
- Lack of legislation that adequately regulates the new e-commerce activities, both nationally and internationally;
- Market culture is averse to electronic commerce (customers cannot touch or try the products);
- The users’ loss of privacy, the loss of regions’ and countries’ cultural and economic identity;
- Insecurity in the conduct of online business transactions.
- Many consumers still prefer the personal touch and relationships formed at a brick-and-mortar shop
Why Small Businesses Need E-commerce
E-commerce is booming. E-commerce has revolutionized the business world and small businesses have been positively influenced by the changes, so it’s no longer a question of why small retailers need to start an e-commerce site.
The availability and accessibility of creating and implementing an e-commerce platform have meant that large companies aren’t the only ones to enjoy the benefits of selling products online. Small businesses have found success online and these companies have been able to grow beyond their expectations.
E-commerce enables small businesses to keep pace with competitors while providing new sources of much-needed revenue as well. Because it’s relatively easy to set up an online store, small businesses really only need an internet connection to run various e-commerce solutions and a shipping process.
Developing an e-commerce strategy may require less investment than opening a second brick-and-mortar location, Inc. says. E-commerce allows businesses to sell their products anywhere in the world rather than being restricted to the local area, so they stand to increase sales and profits. Even the smallest businesses can integrate e-commerce with their existing business website. The accessibility of online sales is ideal because it levels the playing field: Smaller operations can compete with large-scale sellers when they leverage e-commerce effectively.
If you’re a small business, an e-commerce store is a must-have in order to increase sales and build your brand. Your customers are increasingly browsing and shopping online, and an e-commerce store will keep you competitive, expand your reach, and allow you to offer a better customer experience.
Some of the reasons to show why your business needs a website or E-commerce Store are:
- Low operational costs
- Help to increased revenue
- To have customers around the clock
- To have multiple sale channels
- More than 50% of customers have purchased online
- To create your digital brand identity
- Get new customers via search engine location
- Provide beautiful options to the clients
- To promote your offline store
- Better support
- Increased your conversion rate(CRO)
- Free or cheaper promotion
- Better and more personalized service
- An easier way to shop and sell
While the e-commerce economy is poised for significant growth in the coming months and years, you can only expect to see results if you approach it in the right way. That means focusing on the following critical tips for e-commerce success.
What to Consider Before Starting an E-commerce Business
Spend time learning about the market you’re targeting and be honest about what unique value you can bring to space.
Here are a few questions that will help you create a plan that will set your company apart.
1. Who is your customer?
Who are you looking to serve?
Consider what their expectations are when purchasing the type of product you plan to sell.
Knowing your target customers helps increase the relevance and effectiveness of your e-commerce marketing initiatives.
To do this, you’ll need to look for pain points in the way things are currently done. This is where you as an innovator can carve a space for yourself.
2. What are you capable of?
What do you know better than anyone else?
Build around your existing strengths and the pieces that are energizing to you. Be realistic about what elements you can do yourself and what you will need to find help for.
It can be challenging to know your limitations but it will help you make better long-term decisions.
3. What are your customer needs?
Considering the needs of your customers plays a vital role when choosing your e-commerce strategies.
Because your customers are your buyers, you can’t afford to ignore their needs when developing your products and putting together your marketing plans.
4. What is your positioning?
You understand what makes your product better, but will consumers?
Evaluate your competition and make sure it’s clear why your product is the best choice.
From your back-end processes to your warehousing, to your marketing, to your website’s shopping experience, your unique value should be clear.
Effectively Manage an Ecommerce Business
Ecommerce marketing is the practice of driving top-of-funnel traffic to convert into sales and customers. Most e-commerce professionals understand the importance of marketing.
From focusing on organic traffic and SEO to using Facebook or Google ads to drive targeted traffic, you can mix and match paid strategies with non-paid strategies all in an effort to figure out which mix converts the most people.
You can also derive the most from the benefits of online marketing tools and technologies, such as gaining from Clickstream data or targeting customers based on their online behavior.
Everyone knows that e-commerce is primarily a technology play. But there is no denying that it is a technology-enabled play. As a result, you need to stay on top of our technology. This starts from basic decisions such as choosing your hosting, domain name, and shopping cart software, to implementing security measures and more.
You need to constantly evaluate the wide range of new technologies that are introduced all the time. In addition, you need to measure and optimize the present platform that you are working on.
The potential for stratospheric growth of an e-commerce enterprise is unlikely to be realized without a periodic infusion of money. Contemporary figures in the investment landscape show that investors have poured in billions of dollars into e-commerce players that display some potential of being the last guys standing.
But the finance function is not just about fund-raising. There are deliverables management, accounting, financial engineering decisions that permit innovative payment options to customers, and more.
While e-commerce platforms do offer tailored e-commerce financing to this market, they only provide funding to a small portion of online sellers.
You can benefit from e-commerce funding to cover operational costs as well as expenses relating to business growth, particularly relevant now during COVID-19 increased demand.
Except in the case of digital goods, you need to get the product into the hands of the customers. And when the product needs to be returned or repaired, your reverse logistics process needs to get it back. There are many examples of otherwise good e-commerce companies that went belly-up because they could not manage the accuracy or costs of logistics. So, logistics should be seen as a specialist function and given adequate attention.
Tips to Make Your E-commerce Business Wildly Successful
1. Don’t rush the launch.
One of the biggest mistakes unsuccessful e-commerce entrepreneurs make is forcing or rushing the launch of a website. You only get one shot at launching your website and you can’t mess this up. While it’s okay to purchase your domain name and throw up some sort of “Coming Soon” page, you should avoid the big reveal until you’ve laid some substantial ground work (SEO, content marketing, social media, paid to advertise, etc.).
2. Have a business plan
Whether you have a store or a website, every business needs a business plan. However, many people who plan to start an e-commerce business don’t always have a business plan in place. If you have an idea that could earn millions, but you have no business plan to follow, then how do you expect to grow and succeed in the future?
Putting a business plan together isn’t very exciting, but it is classed as a foundation for every potential area of growth your business could have.
3. Narrow your focus
While you may think you have a great idea, be careful not to launch an eCommerce venture that’s too broad.
While your overall idea may be good, you’ll strengthen your position if you can find a way to specialize it further and capture a true niche market. The total number of customers in that market might be significantly less, but the potential for carving out a loyal following is much higher.
4. Get some online experience
Confidence and preparation are the keys to success. If you lack in this department, then you need to do what you can to develop it. A great way to gain experience and prepare yourself is by purchasing an online business that is ready for growth through a marketplace.
This can give you an opportunity to skip the start-up and make money, fueling your business ambitions, without taking a risk. Once you’ve experienced running an online business, you’ll be more prepared to build your own.
5. Build strategic partnerships
It’s rare that an eCommerce website becomes successful on its own. No matter what your experience or skill level may be, you can probably benefit from forming strategic partnerships and aligning your new brand with firms that have already established sturdy brand equity and influence.
Look for opportunities wherever you can and find ways you might be able to help other brands whenever possible.
6. Hire the right person
Whenever you hear about a successful e-commerce company, there is often one thing that sets them apart: the people. While you must have heard it many times before, the people behind your company are the ones who make everything work. That’s why it makes sense to hire people who will be conducive to your company’s success.
So who are the essential people that will help make your e-commerce company thrive?
Well, you can hire employees like Social media director, Copywriter, Strategist, Webmaster, SEO professional, SEM professional, Online business manager, Merchant, Angel investor,
E-commerce product manager – who can take your company’s performance to the next level.
7. Drive traffic through targeted landing pages
While there’s something to be said for attracting large amounts of organic traffic through search engines, the more targeted your traffic is, the higher your conversion rates will be.
Regardless of whether you sell subscriptions, digital downloads, physical products, or something else, the best way to drive that focused site traffic is to nudge users from social media to secure landing pages that invite them further into the conversion funnel.
8. Stay on top of SEO
As the e-commerce economy experiences rapid growth, more and more businesses will be entering this increasingly crowded space. That means it will be more important than ever to stay on top of SEO in order to stand out from the competition. Connecting with a skilled SEO will help you stay competitive in the long run.
Generally, startups don’t want to invest in this since it’s a slow process and results are coming after few months. But in SEO you will get customers daily without having to invest that much money even if you stop investing in SEO at a certain time then also customers will come since you are on the first page in targeted keywords always. So every online startup business should invest in these online activities to secure their future.
9. Taking advantage of m-commerce
The mobile user base has grown exponentially over the last few years, thereby the need for online stores to become mobile commerce ready has become virtually mandatory at this point. If your online store is not optimized for mobile devices, then you are missing out on a lot of business.
Some of the things that make an online store optimized for m-commerce are things like responsive design with easy-to-use navigation menus, solid mobile search features, and easy checkout and payment, all done over mobile. You don’t need to have a mobile app to do it, just have your website optimized for mobile if possible.
10. Researching other small online businesses
Research is integral to the success of your e-commerce store. Once you have chosen your products to look at competitors and what they are doing. What are the barriers and the cost of entry? Do competitors invest heavily in ads or are they slow to become more digital?
Knowing how much work and money that you need to invest in a startup can change your motivation to sell certain products. Research can lead you to identify better products to sell and give you a great understanding of how to start a successful small online business. It can also help you avoid dropshipping mistakes entrepreneurs often make with product selection.
11. Securing your shipments
One of the main concerns with e-commerce for both entrepreneurs and consumers is the issue of security. With personal and financial information being handled online, there is always the potential for e-commerce websites being compromised and customer data stolen for nefarious purposes.
This is especially true for credit card information that gets entered online every single day. Make use of SSL to secure your customers’ online shopping experience. Two-factor authentication is also a good way to further secure your online store, and adding other verification methods should help as well.
12. Don’t be afraid of learning
While e-commerce businesses offer the potential for lucrative returns, they’re by no means easy or effortless. You’ll make mistakes along the way, and it’s important to use each experience as a learning opportunity.
By keeping that in mind as well as the foregoing eight tips you will position yourself for long-term success.
Strategies for Your Small E-commerce Business
1. Maintain high-quality products
Make sure you procure your products from well-known and trusted suppliers of high-quality goods as well.
You must uphold your standards consistently across the board. If you ever ship a subpar product to a customer, it will definitely be a blow to your business even if you have a return/replacement policy in place. Overall customer satisfaction is crucial to the business’ continued survival, and bad product quality can break your business down.
Keep System feedback transparent to the changes in input, and corrective action must be taken as soon as possible. This is a continuing process as there are always other ways to improve.
2. Make a good first impression
On the first hand, it takes about 50 milliseconds for users to decide if they like your site or not, and on the other hand, you never get a second chance to make a first impression. For this, you want to be as creative as possible, because a first impression can last for years, and it helps you with gaining lifetime customers.
Making a good first impression is imperative in getting more customers in your online store. Make the best, eye-catching design possible, in order to entice people into coming in and making use of your e-commerce website.
Good web design has principles you can follow that will help you convince people to take a look at what you have. It should not be too loud nor too barren. Everything on it should be easy to understand, yet maintains its own personality.
3. Improve store accessibility
Accessibility is of utmost importance as it helps your business be within reach to all sorts of customers; i.e. people of different cultures, people with disabilities, etc. Being able to have your online store set to other languages can potentially widen your customer base, as long as they are a significant part of your audience. It may also be accessible to people with visual disabilities like color blindness and impaired vision, by using a high-contrast visual theme and larger font size for text.
There are also things you can do to make the online store viewed better by mobile devices, such as using responsive design and optimizing your images so they can load faster. The more you improve your website’s accessibility, the more people can potentially view it.
4. Include advanced product filtering
Provide a quick and easy shopping experience for your customers by letting them perform an advanced product search.
With this, your site visitors can find what they’re looking for in seconds and with just a few clicks.
E-commerce solutions such as Shopify let you add up to 250 tags to your products for filtering so you and your customers can find them easily.
Adding advanced filter options helps showcase product varieties based on color, design, size, and more, without your shoppers having to scour your website manually. This improves user experience, and in turn, increases your sales.
5. Highlight new products
If you’re new to running a digital store, know that new products have a certain appeal to customers that can help draw them in. Use this to your advantage by displaying your latest or seasonal items on relevant web pages.
Because their avid followers are informed of their new products, it brings excitement and compels them to buy.
6. Use more photos
According to research made by 3M, the corporation behind Post-it Notes, visuals are processed 60,000 times faster than text. Since 65% of people are visual learners according to the Social Science Research Network, one of the best ways to drive the message to your customers is through visual content. One way to do this is to use more pictures on your site.
It’s no surprise then that HubSpot’s social media scientist Dan Zarrella found tweets with images are 94% more likely to be retweeted than tweets without. In brief, provide users with photos that stick to their memory.
7. Create Call To Action & Sign-up Buttons
Avoid lengthy sign-up forms that can take a few pages or so before visitors can successfully register to your site. As an e-commerce site, you don’t actually need to know their address, phone number, and what kind of work they do. A simple email address and a password are just all you need. You should never underestimate the power of call-to-action buttons as this helps in building higher conversion rates and improving site usability.
Make these call-to-action buttons stand out. Think about the button size, color, font, and positioning. It has to be very clear so it would stand out from your website background.
8. Leverage social proof
Displaying reviews from satisfied customers can influence your web visitors to trust you.
The reviews can be about their great customer service experiences with your support team, product quality, the quick arrival of your products, or another positive experience. They serve as social proof of how transaction-worthy your small business is.
It’s a nod of approval from people who interacted with your brand, and it tells other shoppers about the reliability and quality of your products and services, which helps compel them to buy.
Best E-Commerce Platforms For Small Business
There are so many easier ways to get an e-commerce website for your small business now. The following are some of the best options available to help small businesses succeed in e-commerce and if you are a tech-savvy entrepreneur, you may want to seek one of them out. These companies will handle every step that you need to do to get your products online and sell them.
Shopify: This platform is an all-in-one solution that allows you to set up an online store. You can either use one of their templates or a custom-designed theme for your e-commerce site, and everything is included from getting a domain name through a secure shopping cart so you can accept credit cards and PayPal payments.
Magento: Magento is one of the most scalable e-commerce platforms out there, meaning that you can add or subtract services to meet your specific needs. Features include layered browsing for your product catalog which gives customers the ability to filter search, the ability to completely customize your online store’s design if you have the skills and still produce a good looking site if you don’t, and features to drive conversions such as having product comparison and wish lists available to customers.
Bigcommerce: Bigcommerce is a true turnkey e-commerce solution. Features such as SEO, marketing tools, the ability to provide coupons and product reviews on your website are all included. But my favorite feature about Bigcommerce is that it integrates so quickly with so many other applications, including QuickBooks, MailChimp, Facebook, and Constant Contact
Symphony Commerce: This e-commerce platform offers a software-as-a-service (SaaS) solution. It’s ideal because it off-loads the architecture and backend duties that are critical to maintaining an online store. Symphony Commerce offers pay-as-you-go pricing, so it’s a great choice for a company that knows what it wants from an e-commerce service. If you are newer to online sales, you might want to go with a more one-size-fits-all option.
eBay Stores: You’re probably already familiar with eBay’s auction capabilities. But did you know that eBay also offers sellers their own online storefronts? Besides the home page for your store and unlimited product pages, the basic package includes management and promotion tools such as customized e-newsletters and promotional emails and tracking tools.
As you can see, there are a wide variety of e-commerce platforms available on the market to help you create the online sales strategy that’s right for your resources and business goals.
If you’re looking to get into e-commerce, there is certainly no better time than now. With a public that has been getting more and more familiar with the use of e-commerce to avail of various products and services, we are going to see more amazing things through e-commerce for both entrepreneurs and consumers.
To summarize a few key takeaways from this guide as you develop your own e-commerce business plan, start lean, and set all other things aside to focus on sales. Don’t worry about having the perfect product or the best-looking web design for your store in the beginning.
Jump in and learn by doing. Use the sales aspect of your e-commerce business as your lighthouse because it is the driving force behind any successful store. Once you begin turning a profit, invest the funds into an e-commerce marketing plan to continue growing your business. Only then should you start to hone in on other important details like optimizing your store.
Hopefully, this article has helped you to understand how to start and manage an e-commerce business. You’ve got everything you need at your fingertips to make this the year your store takes off, and we are happy to help you every step of the way in meeting this goal.