Online retail is an exciting industry. In addition, to quickly overtaking traditional brick-and-mortar retail, it welcomes new entrants with relative ease. However, that’s not to say anyone and everyone can maintain an e-commerce business. Some e-stores thrive will others fade into nothingness due to lack of interest, poor management, bad planning or the like.
To ensure your fledgeling e-commerce company survives and flourishes, you’ll need to establish a strong foundation for your brand. Below are a few tips for building a solid foundation for your e-commerce business.
Choose a Platform Provider Built to Win
Brick-and-mortar retail depends heavily on location, location and location. A flower market situated in a popular shopping center will experience more foot traffic and better sales than a similar flower shop located in a warehouse district on the outskirts of town.
E-commerce, however, doesn’t experience the same location-based issues as traditional retail. That being said, other factors do play roles – such as the type of platform you use to create your e-store. While there are dozens of platform providers out there, it’s crucial to select an e-commerce website builder that understands e-commerce.
So, what is ecommerce? Shopify, a popular e-store builder, defines e-commerce as “the buying and selling of goods or services using the internet, and the transfer of money and data to execute these transactions.” Beyond this, the provider also understands there are different e-commerce audiences and different ways to engage those audiences. A business-to-consumer (B2C) e-store will operate differently than a business-to-business (B2B) e-commerce site.
Make sure you are picking the option best fit to your needs, otherwise you won’t have a strong foundation upon which to build your brand.
Establish Your Brand & Value Proposition
It might sound counterintuitive or even contradictory at first, but your e-commerce business needs to have a firm foundation in more than one way. The first section discussed finding a technological foundation and location for your e-commerce site. This section will focus on the foundation of your branding, marketing and value proposition. In other words, while you might have a functional store, it isn’t guaranteed to hold onto customers. The nature of your brand and the value you deliver draw repeat business.
Your value proposition is the intended products or services you offer that set you apart from your competition. Do you sell dresses? Or do you sell handcrafted dresses at a price that can’t be beat? Consider what you are offering and how you are offering it. After all, that’s what shoppers are doing – so why shouldn’t you?
The same thing goes for your brand identity. Anyone can sell kitchenware online; truth be told, most customers searching for “kitchenware” online will ignore your e-store in favor of bigger (or cheap) sellers. However, if you corner a section of the market, you can own a niche not yet exploited by other sellers. So, instead of selling “kitchenware” like anybody else, you sell “novelty kitchenware for the kooky cook.”
You must nail down your value proposition and brand identity if you want to succeed as an e-commerce business owner.
Know Your Strategy Top to Bottom (but Stay Flexible)
You’ll also need a foundation for your overall strategy. This should be firm, but flexible.
For example, let’s say you are selling electronics online. Your supplier contacts you in September offering a heavy price cut if you increase your order by 30 per cent. If you know your business strategy top to bottom, you might instantly recall that year-over-year sales in December are on the increase. If you simply pay for a little more storage space and spend a little more on advertising, you can confidently assume you’ll earn your money back and then some come holiday season.
Then again, if you don’t fully understand your e-commerce strategies, you might pass on this opportunity too quickly, or jump into an expensive mistake. If you know your strategy top to bottom, you will be far more likely to problem solve without too much sweat and tears.
Believe in Your Vision
Lastly, it’s important for you to believe in your vision. Starting a new business from scratch is always tough and despite your best efforts, tomorrow will throw challenges you aren’t prepared for. Staying grounded in yourself is essential to overcoming these tumultuous periods. So, believe in yourself, believe in your vision and believe in your ability to accomplish great things.