Five Tips On How You Become An E-Commerce Entrepreneur
More and more people are looking to take their business online- and it’s hardly surprising with the wealth of e-commerce solutions available. It’s never been easier for the layman to create and launch an incredibly polished looking website without even the most basic of tech know-how. But just because setting up a professional looking website has become easier does not mean that launching yourself as a successful e-commerce entrepreneur is easy- in fact far from it! As with most business ventures, hard work, knowledge, passion and luck all play a big part in being a success- but here are five top tips that will give you a helping hand:
Get to know the competition
This might sound like a given, but you’d be amazed at how many people start an e-commerce project without fully understanding who they are up against. Competition can be much more fierce on the web where physical distance means little. You must research your competition before launching your site to understand whether the venture will have any legs. If there are several large competitors that are able to beat you on price, delivery speed and user experience, then what will you be able to offer your customers? This isn’t to say that you won’t be able to offer them something- it’s just that you will need to think very carefully about what that could be.
Understand your marketing budget
This goes hand-in-hand with the point above. The amount of money that you will have to pay in order to acquire customers will in part rely upon how fierce the competition is. You should have a clear idea, based on solid data, of how much acquisition will cost, of what your likely conversion rate is and ultimately what the ROIs on your marketing spend will be. If the numbers don’t add up then it’s probably time to think again.
Do it yourself
This one might be a bit controversial, but I’m a big believer in it. Internet marketing is a huge industry with millions and millions of pounds being spent each year on agencies which handle PPC, SEO and Social Media. For large companies this makes a lot of sense; experts can fine tune accounts and more than earn their keep. However, for an entrepreneur just starting an e-commerce project the additional expense of hiring an agency is something of an unnecessary and completely against the cut and thrust spirit of a start-up (which in my opinion is the only spirit for any would be entrepreneur).
Getting to grips with the dark arts of internet marketing is not as hard as you might think. There is a huge wealth of information out there on the web on sites such as SEO Moz or Warrior Forums. And don’t forget, you don’t need to be an expert just good enough to not have to pay one!
Get fulfilment nailed
First of all a confession here. I’ve failed to do this in the past and been burnt. At the outset one of the great joys of an e-commerce business is the ease with which it can be set up and run, but you must be mindful that once the orders start coming in you have to be able to fulfil them. Sounds like common sense but you’d be surprised! If you are physically holding your own stock then it’s just a case of organisation, the real problem comes when you are relying on others to send out your deliveries. It is common for e-commerce start-ups to work with ‘drop shippers’. These are companies which have their own stock and fulfil your orders directly to customers as they come in. This is great as it reduces your risk. Many successful e-commerce entrepreneurs never hold their own stock. If you are relying on someone else to fulfil your orders then you must ensure they are reliable as it is your company and not theirs which will take the flack. Researching on the web is the first step but I would also recommend more than a couple of test orders; for a start you should be inquisitive as to what standard of packaging they are using!
This may sound obscure but thinking about offline opportunities can be a big boost for your online business. Small, start-up e-commerce projects can struggle to be heard in the massive ocean of the internet which is why thinking about local offline opportunities for promoting your business can be so beneficial. It is my belief that the offline promotion of small online business is the most unused weapon in the arsenal of the online entrepreneur – and it is into this sector that much of my current research is dedicated.