8 key steps to launch your ecommerce business
Ecommerce businesses are booming. In 2020, more than 200,000 selling partners from around the world began selling in Amazon stores in the U.S. This represents a 45% increase over the previous year. If you’re starting from scratch, here are key steps to tackle, plus we’ll get into a lot more detail below.
Starting an ecommerce business can feel overwhelming. It doesn’t have to be.
How Anker grew from a side business into a global brand
Did you know Anker Technologies, the worldwide provider of phone chargers and power banks, started as a small ecommerce business in Amazon stores? Steven Yang and his wife initially ran a dropshipping business that sparked the idea of selling portable charging devices; this became Anker. As sales took off, the couple went full-time with their business. Today, Anker is a global enterprise.
How to start an ecommerce business from scratch
Step 1: Research your business idea
Before you start building a store, research your business plan to help make choices quickly and efficiently. There are several ways sellers decide what products to sell or build. Here are some common decisions to make when trying to start your ecommerce business.
Find a pain point or challenge worth solving
For example, do you seek to make high quality kitchen utensils? Then people who enjoy cooking meals might be loyal customers. Are you selling thicker and more durable yoga mats? Then yoga practitioners and instructors might be your best advocates and fans.
Be observant to find great product ideas
You don’t have to go far to find a good product idea. Oftentimes people sell to a familiar group because it is a lot easier to spot problems and pinpoint needs quickly. Think about your own interests to identify product opportunities for people with similar interests or hobbies.
How a friends’ night out sparked the idea for a new business
Questions to ask yourself when looking for product ideas
The easiest place to start researching your business idea is within your immediate surroundings. Find out the goals, aspirations, or challenges of people around you, then find products to help them. By being observant, you can come up with ideas for your business that you can then research online.
Use keyword research tools to spot trends and opportunities
When it comes to selling online, your passion will not necessarily translate to success. You need to figure out whether customers want the product. Use online tools like Google Trends to research trending products, look up questions customers may have, and determine what their current solutions are. Take a look at the Amazon Best Sellers list to spot niche product opportunities.
The product already exists, now what?
If your idea or product is already on the market, don’t worry: You have a couple of options. Namely, you might be able to offer the same product at a more competitive price point, or provide a better alternative product. Plus, the fact that the product is already out there is validation of market potential—that’s a good sign!
Read customer reviews of the existing products to find out where your competitors fall short. Tally the complaints and look for patterns. Next, do your research and figure out how much it might cost to solve the issue.
Step 2: Validating your product idea
The more time you put into validating the product, the better your chances of succeeding. Once you’ve pinpointed your business idea, research how similar products perform and what potential customers might be looking for.
Talk to potential customers to validate your idea
One of the easiest and most cost-effective ways to figure out whether your idea is worth pursuing is to talk to people. Once you’ve identified a problem worth solving, talk to people who feel the pain point or frustration the most.
Offer to buy 5-10 people a cup of coffee in exchange for 30 minutes of their time. Use your meeting to talk about the challenge and see if the pain point is something they would pay money to solve, or if it doesn’t bother them much. Avoid bringing up the product you have in mind, as this may influence the answers you get. Instead, focus on how they feel about the challenge, how they currently deal with it, and whether they would pay to solve the problem. If so, how much would they be willing to pay? Asking these questions can help you figure out if there might be an audience for the product.
11 tips for choosing the right product to sell online
Help protect your brand with Amazon Brand Registry
Prevent the unauthorized use of your brand through Amazon Brand Registry. This program is built for entrepreneurs who have an existing trademark or patent. It includes access to tools that enable you to better represent a brand and find and report violations.
Step 3: Sourcing your products
Good products will help your new online business thrive. The key is not only choosing the right product, but also the right source for products. Here are a few options for sourcing ecommerce products.
Resell existing products
Reselling is a popular choice for Amazon selling partners, as it can be cost efficient and relatively easy to get started. Online directories and listings can help you find suppliers for products. You will need to contact the vendor, order products, and ship them to your business or storage location. Then, ship them out to customers once the products sell. Finding and building relationships with suppliers can not only lead to more affordable procurement, it can also secure a steady supply chain for your business in the future.
Be Active on Social Media
One good thing about eCommerce companies is that you already have an online presence. What you need to think about is how to engage with the right audience on the right platform and at the right time! Social media is the backbone for D2C brands and eCommerce businesses that directly sell their services and products to customers.
Customers these days look for brands on different platforms, and that’s why being active on social media becomes crucial. You have better chances of engaging with your customers on social media platforms.
Two social media platforms that you can’t ignore are Facebook and Instagram. Having a solid presence and advertising your products on Facebook and Instagram will enable you to create the right impression in front of your customers. Share content that will resonate well with your audience, and avoid posting random posts on these platforms because that can alienate them.
- First, question yourself and determine why your brand wants to be on social media? Is it to increase brand awareness? Do you want to generate more leads, attract more customers to drive traffic to your company’s website, boost brand awareness, provide better customer service, etc.? The more questions you will ask yourself, the clearer the picture will become for the reason to be on social media platforms.
- Second, think about your target audience. Based on your target audience, you will be able to create a social media post calendar that will work for you. So, think about your company and what it sells. Then think about your target audience’s age, gender, location, etc. Where are your customers most active? Is it on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, etc.?
- Third, have a clear picture of what you will share (photos, reels, videos, stories) on social media platforms. Based on the products and services you sell, try to keep your audience up-to-date about the latest trends in your industry. The best way to go about it is by doing competition analysis and finding what your competitors are up to. Don’t copy what they are doing, but take inspiration and ideas.
- Fourth, have a social media calendar ready. You might feel tempted to share your posts as soon as you are ready with your content, but the key here is to know when your audience is most active on social media. Some tips that will help you analyse your audience’s behaviour on social media:
- Sports fans are most active on social media before and just after a match. This is when they interact the most.
- Travel enthusiasts are most likely to be active during the weekends. Weekends are the best time to plan for a trip; hence posting content related to travel, be it travel gear, accessories, clothes, travel packages, etc., during weekends can garner attention.
- For clothing brands, the right time to share posts on social media is Friday (evening) to Saturday (particularly from 11 AM to 1 PM ). Friday is the last working day of the week for most working professionals, and this is when they feel most comfortable exploring clothing brands.
Make Your eCommerce Website Mobile-Optimised
The usage of mobile devices to shop online or browse websites has increased exceptionally. In fact, in October 2021, over 113 million shopping apps were downloaded . By optimising your eCommerce website for mobile users, your chances of sales can escalate too. People these days like to shop on the go, and missing out on mCommerce customers means missing out on a lot of revenue and profits.
Even if you don’t want to invest money in an app immediately, you should definitely make your website mobile-optimised to cater to mobile users’ requirements. Allow your customers to navigate through your eCommerce site without hassle, no matter which device they use. Make the content on your eCommerce site easily digestible by different users.
- Have a responsive website. Responsive designs allow different website elements to adjust themselves based on a customer’s device. Since customers prefer to use different devices to shop or browse websites, it makes sense to have a responsive website design. This way, your website will be able to perform under different circumstances.
- While designing a web-based website, you have more freedom to design it as you want. But 49% of mobile users prefer using one hand while browsing websites. Based on this, your customers will have limited reachability when exploring your website on their mobile devices. So, what you can do is place clickable content in more accessible locations for mobile devices.
- Mobile screens are smaller than computer screens, which is why you should think of including a navigation menu to increase user engagement. The hamburger menu, for example, is the most popular, and that’s because the hamburger menu allows items to appear properly and, most importantly, consumes less screen space.
- When it comes to forms, try to simplify them as much as possible. Since mobile screens are small, ask for absolutely necessary information, this will minimise the number of form fields. Add drop-down menus wherever possible to allow customers to choose an option quickly. Even checkboxes will be a good option.
- Another important tip that you should consider is eliminating pop-ups. Of course, you will like to tell your audience about the ongoing offers or the latest product, but too much of them can annoy your customers. Pop-ups are one of the main reasons why so many customers abandon a shopping website. If you absolutely must have pop-ups, test them rigorously before making them go live. Make sure that the pop-ups don’t appear here and there and are easy to close.
Capitalize on Special Days
Earlier this year, Experian performed a study on personalized email marketing. We all know about the marketing strategy of reaching out to mailing lists on holidays, and most of us probably send out emails for our customers’ birthdays. What Experian found is that a personalized email message on the recipient’s birthday had an open rate of over 3x higher than impersonal holiday messages.
So, take advantage of this knowledge. A simple notice and acknowledgment can be fine, but we’re talking about increasing growth and sales here. Send them a customized offer; cash discounts off a purchase, free shipping, percentage discounts, whatever you like. Test different offers with different segments of your audience and see what works the best.
Poach Competitor Failures
Once you have these monitors set up, watch them. Look specifically for people who call out your competitors for some weakness or failing. Poor support, unsupported products, poor quality products, lack of features; anything that works that you decide you can act on.
Identify how your products can do what the competitor’s products can’t. Then, swoop in with a response to the tweet/post/blog about the competitor’s product, offering up your own. You can sweeten the deal with a free trial or discount to get them to try you out.
As long as you live up to your promises (and are better than the competition for what the customer wants to do), you can poach customers and ex-customers this way. Just remember to do this tactfully and be selective.