E-commerce: Practical Advice To Start Your First Online Store

Embarking on the entrepreneurial adventure is a rewarding experience for many entrepreneurs who want to sell their products or services online. 

While the e-commerce marketing and business management skills gained from this experience are not learned from textbooks, there are things that can be anticipated to avoid making mistakes.

To help you develop your brand, we share with you all the information you need to know to grow your e-commerce site. 

1. What is e-commerce?

E-commerce is a business practice that aims to connect merchants and buyers on the Internet. 

Transactions for goods and/or services are made from an online store, a mobile application, and other sales channels such as social networks, marketplaces, affiliation, and retargeting platforms, etc.

According to the Federation of e-commerce and distance selling (FEVAD), French e-commerce weighs 100 billion euros, today has 200,000 merchant sites and 40 million online buyers.

2. What are the forms of e-commerce?

When you decide to sell your products or services online, you have the option of selling your products to individuals (BtoC) or professionals (BtoB). 

BtoC (Business-to-Consumers) e-commerce is the most widespread form of e-commerce in the world. 

BtoB (Business-to-Business) e-commerce, on the other hand, is a practice that is becoming increasingly widespread and offers new sources of income for merchants wishing to take their business to the next level.

3. What are the advantages of e-commerce?

Whether you are about to launch your business or want to develop your online presence, e-commerce offers many advantages, starting with the possibility of reaching a large audience. 

Using the marketing tools available online, you gain a better understanding of your customers’ purchasing behavior and implement targeted marketing actions to provide a quality and unique shopping experience to online shoppers. 

Unlike a physical store, your e-commerce site is continuously open, which allows you to avoid missing out on a sale.

4. How does e-commerce work?

E-commerce allows buyers to find the good or service of their choice online. 

When browsing the Internet, some buyers know exactly what they are looking for, for example going to the Google engine or marketplaces, while others go in search of inspiration and prefer to go to social platforms.

Once the buyer has found what he is looking for, he can then place his order, which will then be shipped and delivered to his home or relay point.

5. How do I sell online?

If it is possible for you to sell your products directly from a marketplace or certain social networks, it is strongly recommended to open your online store using an e-commerce platform. 

By creating your own e-commerce site, you will have better control of your activity and will be able to build a real brand identity.

6.10 Tips For A Successful E-commerce Journey

 

Tip 1: Perform financial calculations

business financial calculations

When starting your business, it is important to pay close attention to financial calculations so that you can make a profit.

To get an idea of the profitability potential of your e-commerce, you can use this formula: Profit = Demand x (Turnover – Expenses).

Consider this example: 20,000 people are searching for your product (we consider high search volume to account for the main keyword, and long-tail keywords).

If you can reach half of them, your target audience will be 10,000 potential buyers. If your conversion rate is between 1% and 2%, that will equal 100-200 sales.

If your average basket is $ 100, and you have a 30% profit margin, your potential profit will be between $ 3,000 and $ 6,000.

Of course, these are only approximations. But it is by taking the time to carry out your financial forecasts and calculations that you can make an informed decision before setting up your online store in the niche you have chosen.

Tip 2: Analyze your market

Launch your e-commerce business

In order for your online store to not go unnoticed, it is essential to differentiate yourself from the competition. 

To do this, take the time to carry out a competitive analysis, as well as a market study to have better visibility of the activity of your competitors.

Then, stand out not only by your products but also by your content: testimonials, social media posts, blog articles, media appearances, etc. Then, with some search engine optimization (SEO) efforts, you can increase your organic traffic.

Tip 3: Build your brand identity

strong brand

It is important to build a strong brand identity since the value of your business will largely depend on your brand. This is why, when you start, be sure to keep a certain consistency between the goods and/or services that you sell.

Otherwise, this strategy can complicate targeting your customers and negatively impact your keyword research efforts.

Tip 4: Establish a content strategy

 content strategy

This is a common mistake. Many brands don’t put enough effort into content marketing, which makes it difficult for them to generate organic traffic from search engines and social media.

Depending on the niche in which you position yourself, the content will be more or less easy to write. To help you, focus content marketing on your customers, not your products. 

By building a content marketing strategy that focuses on your target customer rather than the products you sell, you will be able to address many topics and engage with your audience in a more authentic way.

And even if you’re in a pretty technical niche and manage to write 50 or 100 articles that mostly deal with your product’s features, those resources alone won’t be enough. 

To truly compliment your efforts, you need to build relationships with your customers that go beyond a simple sales relationship.

Tip 5: Offer free products or samples

free samples

Some entrepreneurs manage to quickly propel their online store by offering free products. Giveaways, contests, and promotions are great ways to promote a product, but they won’t work consistently in all niches.

Free samples can be effective if you sell perishable or consumable items: beauty, food, etc.

Having said that, if you are selling other types of products, even if it is something that could be bought repeatedly, such as an item of clothing, you might not reap the rewards for your investment.

While these promotional tactics don’t drive sales, they are part of a brand-building strategy. And to build a strong e-commerce brand, you need to have a plan.

Tip 6: Organize a competition

online business action plan

Contests are also a great way to promote your online store, increase the size of your social media audience and your email list. For example, you can organize a contest with a blogger and win a gift card worth 100 euros.

To generate excitement on social networks, you have to engage fans from the start and put in place an action plan to build a lasting relationship with this community. 

Find content to share daily. Share your own content regularly. Start conversations. Help people. It takes a lot of effort to establish an effective presence on Facebook and Twitter.

If you decide to hold an online competition, be sure to complete the related financial calculations in advance. These financial forecasts could prove to be much more useful than the competition itself.

Tip 7: Focus on the essentials

subordinate business tasks

In economics, we talk about the concept of opportunity cost. Essentially, by choosing to pursue a given opportunity, you no longer have the time to consider other opportunities. 

So the cost of an opportunity comes down to having to forego all the other opportunities that come your way.

If you take the bootstrapping approach to build your business, chances are you’ll have to do it all yourself. 

This means setting up the website, personalizing it, uploading your products, writing all the descriptions, and doing all the marketing.

The challenge here is that while it can be very rewarding to do everything yourself, in general, it takes a tremendous amount of time. 

This time could be used differently, brainstorming new ideas, developing your professional network, etc.

Menial tasks can be classified into two categories: necessary, and unnecessary. You should try as much as possible to automate the secondary tasks that are necessary. 

While this process may require some financial investment, it will save you a considerable hassle. In addition, it is very easy to find freelancers willing to perform administrative or repetitive tasks (uploading new products, entering data, etc.).

Useless tasks should be put aside. Here are some examples: spending too much time designing your site logo, cropping photos in a more aesthetic way, trying to optimize the color of a button or any other minor change that you will probably be the only one to notice.

And while some of the examples mentioned above might have a positive effect on your conversions if you looked into them, you will only be able to assess your efforts and results if you have enough data to compare your sales and traffic in. time. 

So, during the stage of launching your online store, it is best to avoid dwelling on these tasks. By performing this kind of action, it is true that you might feel working productively. But in reality, your time could be used much more efficiently.

Tip 8: Know your target customers

 target customer online business

Studying your niche market comes down to two objectives: finding a product and defining your target customers (by building avatars or “buying personas”). It is certainly possible to build an audience and then create a product. But it is very difficult to have a product and then find customers.

It is generally recommended that you rely on analytical data when evaluating a niche, and it is absolutely necessary.

However, even if there is enough demand in your niche market and a great selection of products to sell, if you fail to define your target customer, the task will be much more difficult. 

By digging deep enough, you will realize that there are sub-niches in every niche market. The more targeted your approach, the better, as it will be easier for you to understand your customers’ needs.

Tip 9: Create a solid marketing plan

 business marketing plan

When you build your e-commerce business and know who your customers are and where to find them, it becomes very easy to establish an effective e-commerce marketing plan.

Although it is important to establish a well-thought-out marketing plan for each e-commerce project you plan to launch, you should know that some channels will be more effective than others. 

Some e-commerce sites will be better powered by pay-per-click (PPC) advertising, while others will be more successful with search engine optimization (SEO) or social marketing. However, email marketing can be viewed as a stable channel.

Whatever plan you have, make sure you can implement it right from the start of your online selling business. 

New opportunities will naturally arise, but if your pillars are strong, you will be able to experience sustained growth and manage development at scale.

Tip 10: Choose an agency suited to your needs

internet business ppc

During the launch of your business on the Internet, you may need to call on an agency to develop the visibility of your brand. To do this, make sure that the offer offered by the latter is adapted to the niche you have chosen.

Here are two compensation models practiced by agencies:

  • a) invoicing a sum with a fixed amount to be devoted to the dissemination of your advertisements,
  • b) the definition of a budget that you want to invest in the distribution of the ads (above a fixed minimum). In this case, you pay the agency a set percentage of the advertising budget invested.

With system a) your small business will spend a large budget to pay for the service without any guarantee of return on your investment and with system b) you need to have a large budget to get started.

Many companies are very successful with PPC; you just need to know your needs well.

My recommendations to entrepreneurs willing to start an e-commerce business

With all of these tips we just featured, you might be asking yourself: How do I know if I’m on the right track? No one can predict your future, but to help you out to some extent, here is a short list of things to do to increase the chances of your eCommerce project being successful:

  • Study your niche: is there demand?
  • Study your customers: who exactly are you solving a problem for?
  • Find an untapped void in the market: can you add value to differentiate yourself from the competition?
  • Establish an e-commerce marketing plan.
  • Avoid wasting time with distractions.
  • Think twice before you start collaborating with a partner or company, and stay away from collaborators who make big promises or guarantee you phenomenal results.
  • Go for a clean and elegant web design that you won’t need to customize too much.

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