How to start an eCommerce business in 2023?
It’s almost 2023, and practically most of the COVID-19 pandemic issues are fading away. That is a good thing – we don’t want to get back to those challenging times. But even though the pandemic is no longer a thing, it has undoubtedly influenced businesses globally, causing an explosion in the eCommerce industry.
What does it mean for the world of online business? Well, there are always two sides to the story. Some people running their online businesses for years might find it disturbing because of the competition that suddenly appeared from nowhere. On the other hand, newbies in the eCommerce industry would want to give online business a try because of the potential that everyone is now aware of.
If you want to start your journey and explore the opportunity of starting your own eCommerce business, you’ve come to the right place. In this article, you will learn about some of the most crucial aspects of developing a successful online store.
Where to begin, and how to prepare yourself?
If you were thinking that at the beginning of your eCommerce journey, you would go straight to designing your website or choosing the perfect product, you couldn’t be further from the truth. There’s some homework to do beforehand. Think of it as laying down the groundwork before you can start building yourself an empire.
You don’t want to build a business from scratch that will last only a few months. Think about it from a long-term perspective, and don’t rush. Take your time and remember that it’s easy to come up with a business idea, but it’s hard to come up with a truly good one that will last years.
The first thing you should do is develop an effective business plan. This plan should include a detailed analysis of your target market, competitive landscape, and financial projections. Additionally, you should identify key strategies for building a successful online store. With a well-crafted business plan in hand, you’ll be ready to move forward with designing your website.
What is also important is that there are two main items that, if you decide to sell, will bring you closer to eCommerce success:
- Commoditized goods that set themselves apart
- Niche products that are currently in high demand
Read on to find out the key aspect defining these product categories.
What exactly is a niche product?
Well, starting from the beginning, a niche product is a good or service that appeals to a particular market subgroup. For example, you can sell a gaming keyboard only to a specific group interested in playing video games. Also, niche products are in the minority of eCommerce businesses because they target smaller customer groups. But that’s exactly why they can be so successful – when you focus on a targeted market, you have the potential to have a much bigger impact than if you were just selling something more universal.
Now, if you’re looking for the perfect product that will practically sell on its own, you have to look closely at what is currently trending in the eCommerce world. Google Trends and Google AdWords will be good places to start your research.
Those are the things that are already in high demand and have a wide range of customers. That’s probably the most significant difference from niche products. Also, as the niche product constitutes the minority of eCommerce businesses, here (as you can guess) is the opposite. However, with a larger target group comes bigger competition, which is something you need to weigh in when making the initial business decision.
You will find yourself competing with the largest players in the market. So if you’re just starting, try to think of something unique that will make your product stand out, like a new feature or unusual way of marketing your goods. This way, you’ll create a niche product in a commoditized market.
The examples of the most successful eCommerce businesses prove that even small online businesses can break into a big market when bringing something innovative and fresh to the market.
What to remember when choosing the product:
We already discussed two types of products that may not guarantee a successful journey with eCommerce but will surely bring you closer to it. Now, it’s time to go through the process of choosing the winning products that will sell like hotcakes.
You can start by analyzing the customer’s needs and wants. Take into account their lifestyle, budget, and preferences in order to find a product that is suitable for them. Think of how, with your product, you can solve their problems and make their lives easier.
Below are some steps to take into consideration when choosing your main products.
Keep track of all the trends
We’re all different, and that means that what is a no-go for you might be just perfect for someone else. If you notice a product currently going viral, or you know it has the potential to do so, keep an eye on it and choose the right time to offer it to your clients. If you present it in the right way, even the most unexpected items can be a hit.
After all, why else did so many people dream about fidget spinners a few years ago? Businesses made millions on those toys just because they went viral on social media platforms.
Solve people’s daily problems
If you know one person with a daily problem that you can potentially solve, it’s already a good start in coming up with the idea for your product. For example, someone once discovered that drivers struggle with a large amount of trash inside their vehicles.
There was a problem, so someone came up with a solution and invented a car trash can, which is now a part of many peoples’ car equipment. Keep in mind that you can also develop content that attracts leads to your site through inbound content marketing to solve their daily problems. Jobber, who sells Service Scheduling Software, develops salary guides like this Painter Salary Guide. These assets attract owners whose pain point is hiring and retaining top talent.
Focus on things you like
As Confucius once said, “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.” Well, it is similar in terms of looking for the right product. Stick to those niches and problems that you’re genuinely interested in. If you know nothing about cosmetics, maybe it’s not the product for you. At the end of the day, you’re doing your best work when you do what you like.
Things to keep in mind when creating a website for an online store
When you finally find the right product for you and you see its potential, it’s time to create your website (after all, you won’t sell your product on the street, right?). There are a few important steps you should follow when developing your website.
But before we get there, keep in mind that creating an eCommerce website could be quite a long process. That is if you’re considering creating a website with all the necessary features to make your store work properly and attract new clients.
With that in mind, you can focus on developing your first eCommerce website.
Building a website always starts with choosing the right design, colors, navigation, and other creative elements. The colors and the theme of your page are a matter of taste, but try to keep it simple and eye-friendly so the page content is easy to read and sends the right message. A well-designed store can help you attract more customers and, ultimately, increase your sales.
Next up is mapping and navigation, probably the most crucial part of your page. If your navigation is complicated and the customer finds it hard to find your products or the essential information about them, they will leave your website within seconds. This is why usability testing for any new website is key!
Going further – focus on the most important subpages that don’t complicate the overall look of your website. In the beginning, you can create those subpages that are practically necessary for every eCommerce business, for example,
- A product page,
- A shopping cart page
- A checkout page.
- An About Us page
- Contact page
Once you have those setup, you can look into adding more subpages according to the needs of your business. It’s important to remember not to clutter your website. Try to keep it minimal and simple.
As everyone knows, eCommerce deals with transactions that include an exchange of sensitive information. Personal data or credit card numbers and other payment details must be kept safe. To ensure that transactions remain secure, businesses must employ trustworthy security protocols such as
- Layered security systems
- SSL certificates
- A virtual phone number
- And many more
Customer service automation
So, when you set up all of the technical aspects, it is time to think about features and tools that will attract new customers and retain the current ones. Customer service automation tools are something that every website should think about. With such a tool, you can not only reduce your costs on customer support but also assure your customers that their inquiries will always be solved within minutes.
Some other benefits that come from using automation tools include,
- Removing language barriers and time zone differences
- Reducing the cost of customer support
- Improving customer satisfaction and well-being
- Speeding up the problem-solving process
Now, let’s discuss two examples of automation tools that will help solve the discussed issues:
The first and most important thing about chatbots is that, in most cases, they don’t require any coding knowledge – many chatbot builders will develop your bot quickly and smoothly. How can a chatbot help you? Well, this tool can professionally handle many fundamental customer interactions like greeting new visitors, offering discounts, asking for feedback, and more. Also, they are a great solution for new businesses that can’t afford pricey tools. Many chatbot providers offer freemium subscription plans.
A management tool that processes and catalogs customer service requests. In addition to relevant user information, tickets, also called cases or issues, should be stored appropriately. With this tool, you can save time and focus on other, more critical aspects of your eCommerce activity. What is more, the ticketing system offers segmentation, analytics, and prioritization capabilities that help you make informed decisions regarding your customers.
Although it’s up to you how you want to start your online business, there are some main takeaways that you should keep in mind.
First, make sure that you take the time to create a well-thought-out business plan, so you have an understanding of where you’re heading. Then follow your plan step by step. If you make rushed and impulsive decisions, there is a big chance that your eCommerce business won’t last long.
Choose the right product for your store. It could be hard at the beginning, but with the help of research tools, you can genuinely find the holy grail that will sell on its own. Just remember to keep tracking the trends that appear on social media platforms or to think about how you can solve the most common problems of your potential customers.
Do what you like, not what you feel is worthy. If you do what you’re truly passionate about, the money will come either way. What is more, when you know your product, you can advertise it better, and you’ll be a better salesperson in the eyes of your clients.
Make sure your optimized e-commerce website resonates with your customers and is visitor-friendly enough to have people stay on it and make a purchase.
Implement all of the necessary features, such as chatbots, live chat, and a ticketing system, to ensure that you have top-notch customer support.
And lastly, don’t forget that starting an eCommerce business takes a lot of hard work and dedication! But with a little effort, clear vision (and maybe a tedious all-nighter or two), you can be well on your way to success.
Mateusz Baranowski is a Digital PR & Content Specialist at Tidio and a Journalism and Social Communication student in Poland.