Starting an E-Commerce Store: From Zero to Success

INTRODUCTION:

Long gone are the days when setting up a store meant the need to procure a property with good access and visibility for the prospective buyer or to hire people to cater to your assistance at a single call.

The age of the digital revolution has managed to impact the way we buy and sell, and E-Commerce is the way to do it today.

Allow us to ask you to look back a few years into the past and imagine a few situations. Say we ask you to imagine a woman who needs to shop for her favorite heels without leaving the comfort of her couch? Or, a teenager who wishes to impress his friends with the best sneakers on Monday, but doesn’t have the time to go out and pick one?

What seemed impossible a few years back has shaped into reality, thanks to the advent of E-Commerce. It’s not surprising anymore for the customer to be able to purchase from a store sitting miles away, an item that comes in size, make, and color of their choice.

The reason you are reading this is perhaps that you are looking for an escape into the virtual world of commerce, which has assured benefits, both monetarily and otherwise. The only hurdle one could face comes in the form of inadequate knowledge and guidance on the correct way to set up an E-Commerce store.

The world and its people are done with 9-5 jobs, aren’t they? Singers have stopped relying on music cassette sales and are participating more and more on virtual platforms for spreading the word about their talent.

Actors have withdrawn from the world of tele operas and have turned to web series for better recognition. Everybody these days, including the local tailor and the sports enthusiast, have realized and decided to go with the flow.

Chapter 1:Understanding E-Commerce

Understanding Ecommerce Users Needs

1.1 How and Where Did E-Commerce Begin?

We know the world wide web is just a little over a couple of decades old, and so is E-Commerce. E-Commerce, however, was not meant for a purpose as we know it today. Back in the 90s, the term E-Commerce was used to convey the electronic execution of commercial transactions.

The leading technologies used in the time were EDI (Electronic Data Interchange) and EFT (Electronic Funds Transfer), which provided platforms for people to conduct business information exchange along with transactional activities.

Well, we cannot say E-Commerce witnessed an instant uproar and escalated immediately in the market, but within a decade, it had somewhat made its stance. According to statistics, by 2007, E-Commerce had gained a 3.7 % share in total sales worldwide.

The reasons for this delay are manifold. Firstly, the internet took long to make its impression among the general public, the same audience the E-Commerce websites would need to target.

Even after the explosion of the world wide web, it took about four years for the development of protocols like HTTP. The advent of such security protocols then assured uninterrupted internet connections and speed.

By the second millennium, a handful of US companies gave to the world its new definition of E-Commerce – the process of selling and purchasing goods online through a secure and speedy medium, with the help of electronic payment modules.

safeway

Two of the first E-Commerce websites to have come up across the globe were Safeway and Albertsons. Soon enough, the B2B or the Business-to-Business model took shape and had around 700 billion USD to its transaction. A massive escalation in just a few years, don’t you think?

The rest is not unknown to us today. We live in a world where the owner of an E-Commerce website has stayed on the numero uno position of the world’s richest people.

Why do you think E-Commerce was able to gather such frenzy about itself in such a short time? What makes it stand apart and much ahead of the conventional brick and mortar stores?

Perhaps before we navigate into the discussion of the how’s and the what’s of setting up and E-Commerce store, it is essential to shedding some light on the why’s.

1.2 Why Should I Set Up an E-Commerce Website?

Why Should I Set Up an E-Commerce Website

No wonder every entrepreneur, every business-owner, or everyone who wishes to make huge money is turning to the internet, and especially to E-Commerce.

The idea is to sell one’s products and services online, where one expects to achieve many more benefits than he would through a brick-and-mortar store.

The figures say it all, don’t they? According to sources, 80% of worldwide internet users have been buyers on E-Commerce platforms, which translates roughly to more than a billion customers!

Besides, E-Commerce has managed to transform the way businesses function these days completely. This includes not just the sales and finances, but also the organizational structure, the increased importance of creativity in advertisements, and the customer relationship interface.

If you want to be assured of all the benefits opening up an E-Commerce store could have for you, read on.

The Major Benefits Of E-Commerce Storefront

ecommerce-advantages-list
1. No More Geographical Limitations

For someone who lives in a remote part of the country and wishes to make his store reputable, it would be difficult to reach beyond the borders of the town itself.

This notion is entirely shattered by E-Commerce, which assures that geographical limitations play no role when it comes to buying or selling.

This means not just a massive benefit for the customer who can avail his favorite product or service sitting in the comfort of his living room, but also a huge win for a store-owner. She or he can now have their products visible or sold to customers from any corner of the world.

2. Search Engine Optimization for Better Visibility

Unlike brick-and-mortar stores, where it would be difficult to estimate who is looking for what, E-Commerce provides you the chance to do just that.

With the help of the internet, the pandora’s box of possibilities, the information regarding which product customers are more likely to be looking for, and when is achievable. This is called search engine optimization.

When customers look for products online, it is normal for them to type in just a few words. These words are referred to as ‘keywords’ by search engines, and it is easy to avail of a list of these usual keywords customers use when looking for certain products.

What you can do with your personal E-Commerce platform is amalgamate these keywords with your product description and voila!

Every time a customer looks up his keywords, your product, and your E-Commerce website pop up as one of the top results which she or he is more likely to visit.

Perhaps this game of ‘I-know-what-you-are-looking-for-and-I-have-it’ is what makes E-Commerce stand a class apart from the traditional store, doesn’t it?

3. More Convenience for Customers

Besides saving your customers the need to walk or drive up to the store to get the product of their choice, you are also providing them the benefit of saving any travel expenses, aren’t you?

For most of the working class, who barely have time to spend on themselves, this is a huge relief.

This is also why they don’t mind paying a little extra for the delivery charges, considering your prices are reasonable or maybe even laden with attractive discounts!

4. More Options and Comparisons

What the traditional store might also lack is the availability of an adequate number of options to choose from and compare.

What if the customer also wishes to know if the shampoo from one brand is better priced than the other? Or what if they want to know how many brands provide ripped denim and which one looks best?

The number of such options available in the traditional store is nowhere in comparison to its online counterpart, which is a storehouse of unlimited information.

The customer finds more satisfaction, better options, and easier comparison on an E-Commerce website and would resort to the same for shopping.

5. Ability to Create Targeted Channels

The traditional store also doesn’t have the option of creating a targeted channel successfully. It is natural for us to focus our attention on things we hold particular value for.

In the case of wishes to open a store for specific products, it can be challenging to taste success in the conventional setup.

With E-Commerce, you have the option of making more of this selective attention by customers, for the number of customers viewing your portal increases manifold.

Curated products promoted with the help of targeted advertisements and newsletters work wonders not just for the customer but also for your store.

6. No Need for Bothering to Open or Close

Perhaps one of the best reasons to switch online for your store, E-Commerce provides you the benefit of not worrying at all about when to open and when to close your store. Imagine having a store that sells goods and services 24 x 7!

This allows customers with different time schedules and even sitting in different time zones to access your virtual store and add items to their shopping cart as per their convenience.

Besides, the benefits of automation and usage of the internet assure that the process is conducted smoothly and efficiently.

1.3 Does the E-Commerce Sector Really Matter?

Does the E-Commerce Sector Really Matter

In an age where digitization has revolutionized the way we dress, eat, relax, and work, the question of the relevance and importance of the E-Commerce sector is definitely out-of-place.

Yet, whether you are a newbie to the world of business or an investor who is looking forward to switching online, it is essential to grasp the position, demand, and outcome of this venture.

Reasons Why E-Commerce Sector Matters

Reasons Why E-Commerce Sector Matters
1. The Future Growth of E-Commerce: A Whopping 25%

If you are someone who feels more convinced with numbers, this should come across as a relief: eMarketer has projected a worldwide E-Commerce growth between anything from 13 to 25%, which is definitely an impressive value.

2. E-Commerce Is a Proven Way to Maintain Loyal Customers

Surveys have shown that people who have bought items from online stores and have felt considerably satisfied with the order or delivery or service or all of these combined are likely to use the website repeatedly in the future as well.

3. Higher Conversion Rates with Online Websites Are for Real

Just like window shopping, the internet provides the customer with the opportunity of browsing and looking up products that they are interested in.

With the latter, however, the rate of conversion into the product being purchased is even higher.

The reasons are many – frequent price drops visible or even notified to the customer, detailed descriptions of products, and so on.

4. Overheads with E-Commerce Are Much Lesser Comparatively

The number and types of overhead charges that come into play when one is handling a conventional store are many.

This might include shop rentals, utility and maintenance bills, expenses on security measures, and maintaining a large staff team. None of these apply to an E-Commerce store for a business holder.

In an age where people have just begun to realize the prowess of E-Commerce and digital marketing, opening an E-Commerce website for your products is sure to lend you a competitive edge.

We hope you have now gained clarity about the why’s of opening an E-Commerce website and whether the process fits your vision perfectly.

Is this e-book for you?

-Do you want to launch an E-Commerce website for your goods and services from scratch?

-Do you already own an E-Commerce company, which is not doing expectedly well in terms of sales and online performance?

-Do you already own a virtual store, but need to revamp it in terms of size, popularity, or refinement?

If your answers to any of the above are ‘Yes,’ then you have chosen the right platform for all your uncertainties about setting up an E-Commerce store.

No wonder, everyone who starts out wishes to become another household name like Amazon or Flipkart. For starters, however, a much simpler, down-to-earth example wouldn’t be bad enough to inspire.

Monica, from Brooklyn, New York, loved to doodle in her free time or even during advertisement meetings during her day job.

Doodling provided her a way of amusing herself. After she became a mother and had more time to herself, she thought of converting this love for doodling into a business idea.

She went on to add more to her world of doodled characters and made sure she provides each with a backstory, suitable music, and so on. She began testing how the designs would look on physical products, like mugs, home décor, and kid’s apparel.

She then went on to launch her products and services using Shopify, while integrating the services of Printify and Printful with her store.

What she was quick to realize, however, was that launching an E-Commerce store from scratch and translating it into a success is no a cakewalk.

She went on to gather help from different sources, like approaching an SEO-expert for lending direction and so on. Clearly, according to her, the beginning of the process was the toughest part.

What we are trying to deliver through this e-book for you is a comprehensive guide that spans everything you need to know about setting up an E-Commerce store from scratch.

We wish to make sure the process does feel like a cakewalk for you with our well-planned guide for all your needs, be it SEO, or handling figures and whatnot.

The book doesn’t stop at just that. It shall not only convey to you the technicalities about launching an online store for your merchandise or services from ‘zero,’ but also lend you tips and hacks for turning it into a success.

So, it is time we shift our focus now to the first step of launching an E-Commerce store from scratch – investing time in THE IDEA.

Chapter 2: Investing in and Analysing the IDEA

investing in and analysing the idea

It is not always easy to be certain of what you are going to sell, what your website is going to look like, or who you want to target with your products.

Sometimes, just the notion of being able to derive success from an E-Commerce website is all one has.

In this chapter, our motive is to help you understand better the process of generating product ideas, or picking what products to sell out of the vast pool of options for your website.

The idea is to help you get into the process of brainstorming and filtering only the best ones for your vision.

2.1 Generating Product Ideas

Coming up with the best product for your business is, no doubt, a tricky business.

Even picking out from the vast pool of options that exist is not that easy, because all of them are successful in their niche, and it is difficult to assess which would be best for your business.

There are, however, several strategies you could adopt to translate your scattered thoughts into a decent business idea.

Various methods can help you generate a brilliant product idea for your business, a few of which we would like to list out for you.

1. Solving a Customer Issue

Perhaps one of the best ways to land on a successful idea for your E-Commerce website would be to identify and cater to real issues faced by customers around you.

Such customer pain points, be they in relation to some existing services or products around, or some areas that haven’t been catered to yet, can make for excellent ideas for an E-Commerce website.

You could begin by venturing out into the real market – interaction with potential customers.

This could happen either via a short survey you could take online, or even through observations and records you might register in day-to-day life.

A keen eye and the ability to grasp pain points is all you need to get started.

2. Opting for Your Passion or Niche

general-vs-niche

Quite often, it is usually a passion or drive that makes us want to venture out into the world of setting up a business.

The idea might not be definitive and is usually just a vague conglomerate of thoughts, yet it could be one of the directions you could drive your website towards.

You need to remember that the fact that you are here, reading this book, itself means you haven’t started blank.

There must be some ideas you love pondering over, some hobbies you know you can shape to success, some fields of interest that could make you love your work.

Begin by sitting down with a notepad and a pen and jot down all these random ideas, hobbies, passion, or exciting things that come to your mind.

You will have already created a pool of ideas to dive deep into and proceed to the next step.

3. Going Back to Your Personal and Professional Experiences

Whether we admit it or not, the idea of breaking into the world of E-Commerce has come to us for a reason – be it personal or professional.

Most of us are either frustrated with our routine jobs or have been inspired by someone’s success in the venture.

Even on the personal front, some incidents that could have sparked the urge for independence within us could be the reason we want to try our hands in online commerce.

Whatever the reason might be, the idea is to use to shape it into a productive step towards the business itself.

Perhaps working in a particular industry or dealing in certain services previously has lent you an insight into the ups and downs of the same?

Perhaps you know better the pain points of customers your company could cater to? Perhaps you feel equipped with sufficient technical knowledge to be able to lend new meaning to some conventional practices?

If we wish to incline a little towards personal experiences now, perhaps some fields have always attracted your attention? Perhaps some discussions within your friend circle have always seemed an exciting idea?

This is one sure-shot way you could convert your own experience and skills into a successful business venture.

Future of Trends Related to Mobile Apps

Mobile app development has become very popular and companies that are dealing with this have a bright future. Many new trends are coming in this field and some of them have been discussed here.

4. Capturing the Latest Trends

capturing the latest trend

Regular browsing, a little research on the current demands, and the way these trends are catering to people’s needs can help you capitalize on these trends quite early. The benefits of this step are magnanimous for a business.

Not only does this effort at capturing the latest trends provide you a lead in the market in terms of position and audience, but it also provides you the opportunity of availing much better and suitable traffic for your products.

One only needs to remember that there is a difference between a fad and a trend, and it is only the trend that needs to be capitalized on. The former would be nothing more than a waste of time.

Once you have successfully assessed the trends in the market, be there as many as possible in different or allied fields, you can easily proceed to the next step of filtering out the more suitable options for your business venture.

So, how can you keep an eye on the trends in the e-world? Well, we have it all listed for you.

A. Google Trends

For those of us who are not aware of this handy application, Google Trends can be used to browse at a glance across multiple hot topics the world is either talking about or is wearing or eating and so on.

All you need to do is spend some time on Google Trends and keep taking notes whenever some topic or item sparks your interest.

B. Reddit

If you wish to know what the internet is talking about today, Reddit is the place for you.

Colloquially called the ‘front page of the internet,’ it provides you with the most exciting and sought-after headlines daily.

A few days or weeks of research can lend you an idea about what is hot and what is not, and you can pick out a few best options according to your taste.

C. Trend Hunter

The thing is with Trend Hunter is that it works like a community that is always hunting for the latest trends and the newest information related to particular topics.

Trend Hunter works with Artificial Intelligence support along with human teams.

Their job is to identify and analyze from consumer activities what is trending in what field at a given time.

Not only do they provide you with accurate customer insights, but also a platform that already feeds you with multiple ideas and opportunities.

D. Social Media Sites

If you are okay with not being spoon-fed by websites as mentioned above and wish to spend some more time in analyzing and studying the market trends yourself, the best resort would be any popular social media platform.

With the option of using hashtags for joining discussions and sharing opinions on these sites, people are unknowingly declaring their preferences.

This is in complete harmony with your aim to identify the best ideas to cater to the voices of these very people, who you could then successfully convert into a target audience, and later into prospective buyers.

5. Analyzing Customer Reviews on Other Shopping Sites

They say we learn better with others’ mistakes.

While one cannot deny the fact that there are too many E-Commerce websites on the internet today, one also cannot deny that these websites offer one the opportunity of learning as well.

One can analyze, through a brief study from these websites, what kinds of products they offer, and what is the customer response to these goods and services.

One must go through positive as well as negative feedbacks to be able to grasp the all-round merits and demerits of launching a similar website.

Besides, there can be so much other information you can derive from these websites and their ideas.

You can easily assess whether or not it would be better to target a specific audience with your products or whether you would like to cater to large masses – something for everyone.

All these assessments can go a long way in helping you to shape your ideas for your virtual store.

6. Keyword Search for the Best Targets
Keyword Search for the Best Targets

You must have often come across the terminology of Search Engine Optimization. But did you know that this is something that can prove to be great even for your E-Commerce website?

The idea is to do a little research on frequently used keywords by customers when they are looking for products.

Some of the keywords can tell you precisely what kind of tags people add to products they are looking for, how many hits these keywords get in a month, or even how often people tend to look up a particular product.

With a little more hunt into the keyword game, you could begin to assess what kind of products are sought together and whether there is a particular surge in queries related to particular kinds of products based on the time of the day or of the week or even month.

All these stats can help you in jotting down ideas, what works and what does not when it comes to picking products for an online store.

7. Research, Research, and More Research

These days most of the online shopping websites have dedicated columns listing out the most wished-for products.

Some of these sites also allow a sneak peek into the number of times certain items have been bought, what are the times that are frequently bought together, and what are the categories into which people like to sum their shopping experience.

The research process, especially when it comes to setting up an E-Commerce store, is like an unending process. The more you delve into different links and sites, the more information you get.

Although people say too much of a thing is terrible, when it comes to research, it could turn out to be helpful.

No, we are not asking to dedicate all time for thought and none for action, but more and more research can help clear the cloud to some extent.

For example, you could begin looking out for products that offer better profit margins.

Ultimately, the goal of your business venture would be to seek higher profits and make a mark in the market, wouldn’t it?

According to statistics, 83% of consumers in the US made online purchases in 6 months, which clearly shows the heights of E-Commerce usage.

There is so much to learn about item promotion costs, holding, and shipping prices for different products, as it differs for each.

There is equally much to learn about handling and reducing any overhead charges for different kinds of products.

At the end of it all, you must learn how to translate the entire process into a profit, and this requires extensive research.

8. Trial and Error

The real validation for any product you wish to launch onto your E-Commerce site can happen only by a trial-and-error method test.

This does not, however, mean you are entitled to risking the security and trust of your potential customers.

Neither does it mean you need to compromise on your investments and ship out products at risk.

It is not wrong to feel a little hesitant before investing in a business idea, even though it is your own.

What you could do is minimize the upfront investment, and try to analyze which of your chosen ideas can be translated into success.

You could use the help of promotions to drive traffic toward your product and assess the kind of response it manages to get.

Try this out on finishing the chapter:

1.Spend some time online to assess and decide upon a few great product ideas for your website. Jot them down in a notebook or an Excel sheet.

2.Type in a few keywords you can associate with your product idea or ideas and visit the websites you feel most attracted to.

3.Leave aside the details and try to take note of what could work best for you. In the Excel sheet, make separate columns for the – idea, popularity, sold items, customer reviews, and so on.

2.2 Narrowing Down Ideas to Just a Few

Narrowing Down Ideas to Just a Few

What you might have realized by now is that jotting down ideas or coming up with new ones is comparatively easier and interesting than what you are supposed to do after it – assessment and decision-making.

The process of narrowing down ideas to make a call for your website involves so many activities at a single time – understanding the market demand, assessing your potential and niche, understanding the customer response and need, estimating any scope for future growth, and so on.

In this chapter, we are going to go step-by-step in helping you carry out the above and much more, so that out of the entire bucket of ideas you have gathered by now, you can pick out a handful to proceed ahead.

1. The Elimination Game

The first and foremost task that you need to sit at after you are done filling your notebook with as many great ideas as possible is eliminating the ones you don’t need to work on.

We are likely to have jotted down some very mainstream ideas along with some unique ones during the previous process.

The problem with mainstream ideas is that there already exist several websites catering to them.

What you need to understand is that most of these websites have already made a mark in the customer’s mind regarding their service.

It would be wiser to not set foot on such common areas such as electronics, clothing, books, and so on unless you are going for something more specific.

2. The Second Layer of Research

As we mentioned earlier, there is nothing known as enough research.

At this stage, you might want to go through the second layer of research, this time diverting your attention towards current trends only and filtering out anything on your list that seems outdated or negative.

Next, you could also continue to expand your research by keenly observing related items.

It might so happen that you could begin to narrow down your services to a select band of related products and services.

Often, customers have to spend hours online looking for these things on separate locations on the internet to be able to bag the best deals.

Perhaps your extensive research could help you in cutting down your product ideas to just a few ones.

3. Say ‘See You Later’ to Competition

Honestly speaking, one can never just stay rid of any kind of competition when it comes to the e-marketplace.

This is because there are simply too many brains from all around the world that have the same forum for the display of their ideas and trying out their luck.

Therefore, it is challenging to be able to remain exclusive of all competition, even from the first stage itself. However, what you can do is try to minimize the chances of such unwanted clashes.

Out of the long list of product ideas you might have, it is advisable to filter out those that have stiff competition existing in the market already – everyday items that several websites have listed as their products, ideas that are nothing unique for customers to come running to and so on.

The essence of owning a unique product idea lies in the fact that you do not want to end up fighting for a place in the digital world.

To be able to successfully filter out products that are very common on other websites, you will need to spend some time online.

You could easily try conducting product image searches to track the number of websites they feature on.

This could be followed by a brief analysis of how the product is doing on their websites, its popularity, reviews, any pain points, and so on.

As they say, one thing always leads to another, and who knows the process of narrowing down these ideas could help you chalk down to the great idea you were looking for?

4. Where Is My Profit At?

The number one thing that any business enthusiast should be concerned about is the profits he has the likelihood of making with his products or services.

Often, the choice of products that his business would launch gets heavily impacted by the facts and figures revolving around setup costs, overheads, and the likeability of making profits in the market.

Maybe you could begin narrowing your ideas down to products that have relatively lesser overhead costs and better prospects at making a profit.

This should be done systematically – calculating the total cost of all the resources that you are putting in, followed by comparing to your profit chances in the market.

Research suggests that the perfect product price when it comes to being able to earn considerable profit lies in the range of about 40 to 60 USD.

That said, it is essential to realize that what is most important when it comes to calculating product prices and profits is the kind of conversion rate that is achievable.

Perhaps you would want to consider if you wish to make delivery available for some parts of the country or maybe anywhere in the world.

The mechanism considerations for each would differ, and so would the kind of products you could keep in each category.

You need to keep in mind at this stage that different products have different performances when it comes to promotional costs, shipping charges, and even charges related to holding and maintenance.

This should somewhat be able to guide you in narrowing down your list of product ideas to those select few where you would be able to strike a balance between all the monetary factors.

5. Going for a Niche Store

Going for a Niche Store

Thanks to the world of E-Commerce, people can now shop for literally anything online.

There are such a vast number of stores available for daily goods and groceries, cosmetics and clothing, shoes, and accessories in general that these virtual stores could easily replace the supermarket.

One genre that continues to remain unexplored is that of the niche store.

Niche drop shipping stores have such high potential to be translated into successful E-Commerce ventures. The reasons are manifold.

Firstly, you have your chance at uniqueness.

There can be multiple online websites selling kitchenware, but perhaps your idea of opening a niche store that deals only in etched glassware for all home needs could be one of its kind in the market.

You would have a specifically targeted audience and yet a broad base to begin with.

This is because you have chosen the product wisely enough to cater to anyone who wishes to have jealous guests, isn’t it?

Such a niche store is easier to highlight and promote amidst the vast crowd of generic sales and escalates much faster on its route to becoming a household name.

6. Deciding on a Marketing Strategy

What many people fail to realize early on when they are setting up a business, especially an online one, is the vitality of an effective marketing strategy.

Perhaps the importance of this step weighs even more than thinking of the product itself.

The reason behind this is that you cannot apply the same marketing strategy to all kinds of products.

The product and its marketing channel are like a unique combination of a lock and key – they don’t work as expected with others.

The best way to handle this stage would be to go for a tabular comparison of your product ideas in terms of the components you need to take care of for their marketing.

You could determine a few factors that are integral to any marketing strategy - the role of SEO in marketing your products, the weight of Search Ads, Facebook Ads and Display Ads, whether or not email marketing could have any benefits and so on.

At the end of this tabular comparison, you will also need to weigh your resources, capabilities, and talents to be able to extract something meaningful out of the analysis.

It is of vital importance how much knowledge you have, how much time and money you have to invest if you don’t know enough about them.

This will help you a great deal in crossing out all those product ideas that don’t fit in the channels that you find most suited to your temperament.

7. Say No to Seasons

There must be a few products on your list that are very seasonal in terms of customer demand.

Say, there could be a few products that find considerable customer demand only during the festive days of the year.

There could be a few items that are dependent on the season – say winterwear or beachwear.

There could be items that see escalation exclusively during only particular times of the year.

Investing your time, energy, and money into such product ideas would leave you with comparatively negligible proceeds for the rest of the year.

This is why it is essential to say no to such seasonal products and services.

2.3 Evaluating Product Ideas

So, you are done with all the research you needed to. You probably have the following handy

  • 1.Ideas about what domain you would like to cater to in terms of products and services.
  • 2.Further refinement of ideas to understand what suits your temperament, capabilities, target audiences, and budget.

From this stage on, you need to focus all your conscience towards a single goal – setting up your own business with a successful E-Commerce website.

Considering the knowledge you have acquired and the skills you have to hike things further, let’s begin first with a comprehensive guide on product finalization.

2.3.1 Deciding Your Business Niche

As we have mentioned before, a business these days that does not cater to a niche category is not successful at all. This is because of two reasons.

Firstly, there are way too many competitors in the market to be setting up a general shopping website.

Secondly, the customer is searching for such niche stores himself because the online world has made their demands very specific.

As you have already selected a domain and some products or related products to work ahead with, let’s put them under the microscope.

The first step would be to understand what exactly is meant by an E-Commerce niche.

An E-Commerce niche is essentially a separate fragment within the broad umbrella of a market that is made up of several business ideas.

An E-Commerce niche tends to narrow down on these ideas, pick out a domain that caters to either a particular target audience or a specific idea.

Working with an E-Commerce niche provides the businessman the option of handling unexplored areas or areas that haven’t been paid the requisite attention to.

It goes without mentioning that you have a fairer chance of success and big numbers with the niche store compared to a general one.

2.3.2 What Are the Benefits of the Niche Store?

What Are the Benefits of the Niche Store

The first and foremost benefit of a niche store would be the immense opportunity it provides.

You know for sure that any business requires the combination of cleverness and hard work.

Well, deciding to go for a niche store already fulfills the first criteria.

1. Customer Attraction

A customer will be much more attracted to a store that sells graphic t-shirts based on the latest trends than browsing for one such piece among the array of other t-shirts available on another website.

This is because, in these days of digital madness, the customer knows they can find anything and everything they are looking for.

This makes their choices specific, and your decision to go for a niche store a hit.

2. Participating and Creating Trends

With a niche store, you are not just availing the option of working with some of the latest trends in the market with your specific work area, but you are also creating them yourself.

Suppose you have chosen handmade items as your niche, with the correct marketing and brand awareness, you might be able to bring back the craze of handmade jewelry, say, back in trend.

3. A Chance to Stand Out in the Market

Understand this that by going for a niche store, you have already reduced to a great extent your immediate market competition.

This gives you a better chance of standing out among your contemporaries.

It is highly likely that your ideas and products are indeed unique to the combination of your target audience and geographical span.

Besides, your potential customers will be able to easily identify the class difference between your niche-specific services and other standard or general ones available in the market.

Being different is, after all, the trendiest thing to be in the market these days.

4. Lower Advertisement Costs

The best thing about the niche business is that you already have a defined target audience. This means there is no need to advertise your product to everyone, isn’t it?

Be it social media marketing or using platforms like Google Adwords for boosting your website’s popularity, now you do not have to worry about making your advertisements for a large and diverse customer base.

You spend lesser money on advertising, which can be great savings for other areas of focus.

5. Higher Product Prices

Another characteristic of customers when they are browsing for niche products is that they are willing to pay higher prices for these products.

Usually, compared to a standard store, customers choose more specific websites for catering to their particular needs, and wouldn’t mind paying a little extra to get something they have been looking for long.

This means you can place your product prices a few notches higher, which reaps in greater profit.

Your niche store must deliver the required uniqueness and quality of the product as well as service, and that’s all it takes to create a loyal customer base.

So, what could be some niche store examples? Well, you could choose something on the lines of organic cosmetics and healthcare products, or you would opt for woven furniture.

There could be special genres like beard oil for men and customized chocolates for various occasions! The choice is yours to make.

2.4 Applying Various Filters on Ideas

Applying Various Filters on Ideas

So far, we have only been discussing the things that we are supposed to do and supposed to learn to do from others.

For a successful business venture, however, it is almost equally important to discuss the things that one must say no to when setting up an E-Commerce store like this.

To be honest, ideas do matter quite a lot. It is one thing to kickstart a business; it is another to sustain it. Neither of the two is possible without great business ideas.

When it comes to E-Commerce, the importance of the idea increases even more with time because competitors never cease to make entries into the market.

This makes it very important that we know what mistakes are to be avoided, right from the stage where we are evaluating and finalizing our products.

This can best be done by applying a few filters to make sure that only the ones that pass the litmus test are taken ahead.

1. The ‘Keep at Bay’ Filter

Right at the beginning, let us discuss the importance of filtering out products based on their likelihood of not working out for you.

Essentially, there are a few products that are simply not going to do well for anyone in terms of the existing scenario of the market you plan to introduce them in. These are the products that no customer wants at all.

Just because your idea might address a pain point of the customer, or because it is both cost and function efficient, doesn’t mean it will be in demand.

Besides, certain products are so commonly available in the market that you will be ramming your head onto a truck by choosing to endorse those in your business.

2. The ‘I can pull it off’ Filter

To be honest, as someone who wants to launch an E-Commerce website, both knowledge and confidence are extremely necessary.

In this case, you need to filter out all those products that you don’t think you can pull off and leave them aside for good measure.

Whether the idea is too complicated for you to execute, or whether it sounds too big for you to handle, the best way is to not go for it.

There is no such claim in the world of E-Commerce that smaller, easier-to-handle ideas do not turn into successes.

3. The ‘Target Customer’ Filter

After all your research, a study based on your product choices and narrowing down the ideas based on the niche category, you must have already had a target audience in mind.

The key here is to identify any product or products where you seem to either not know the right target customer, or that doesn’t fit according to your ideas.

Besides, not knowing the target customer enough is itself a big drawback in the entire screening process.

4. The ‘No Shortcuts’ Filter

Shortcuts are easy and hazardous to your business in the long run.

Remember that if it’s the ease that you are looking for when trying to set up an E-Commerce venture, the latter probably even isn’t a field for you to explore.

There are several articles available all around the internet describing product ideas that will take less than a couple of weeks to get you started on your E-Commerce venture.

The truth is that if you want to taste success, there is no replacing the time you need to spend on research, narrowing down to a few ideas, and so on.

The process keeps repeating unless you have what you want, and your niche E-Commerce store is all set to be launched.

Therefore, if you still have any ideas on your list that have made it so far only because they would be easy, it is time to chalk them out of sight.

5. The ‘Sweet Pay’ Filter

At the end of the day, we are setting up this E-Commerce venture for the profits it will bring us.

We are aware of the market prices, the standing, and positions of some of our biggest competitors, and the worth of our product idea among the potential customers.

Therefore, if there are any products on your list that you think might not be able to earn you good profits for any reason, it is time they are eliminated.

They might be outdated as per the latest trends, or there might be too many competitors in the market for them.

The fact that you will have to struggle for desired profits upon using them in your E-Commerce venture is reason enough to chalk them out.

Chapter 3: Choosing Your Competitors

competitor-types

Remember how we asked you to say ‘see you later’ to market competition in the previous section. Well, this time, we are going to have to ask you to revisit your competitors.

So, you have already set a couple of feet on this path toward setting up your E-Commerce business online.

The two things you have kept in mind are – how to create or get inspired to create unique product ideas for your business, followed by narrowing them down to a select few in order to clear the clutter a little. But what next?

Even though you have not defined with precision the products and their specifications, you should by now have some idea in your mind about the genre you wish to work in – from ethnic fashion to sports gear, from automobiles to hotel bookings, from renting furniture to homes and so on.

What you should now proceed towards should be a detailed competition analysis of the market you wish to launch your website in.

You will be surprised to know that these competitors are the very people who can inspire you and help you crack the very idea you have been waiting for all this while.

How Will the Competition Analysis Help Me?

You are right in thinking that ideas need to be unique, and competitors need to stay away. Funnily enough, the world of E-Commerce works a little differently.

Although you are encouraged to have completely original ideas, it wouldn’t hurt anyone to take a little inspiration from others – whether they are doing something excellently well, or wrong.

Both cases can help you frame something better in comparison to your company.

  • a.You could choose to find out the weaknesses of your competitor and transform them into opportunities for yourself.
  • b.You could take inspiration from their strengths and learn what the must-dos are for a successful E-Commerce website.
  • You can gain a fair and pragmatic idea of the real scenario in the market today – customer demand and response, brand positions, market prices, and so on.
  • d.You can analyze what challenges you could face because of your competitor and make your website adequately prepared for the same.
Competitive-Analysis

Conducting A Competitive Analysis

Step 1: Recognizing Your Own Ideas

Before you even begin noting down the names of your competitors, it is important to look carefully within one’s own zone.

Unless and until you yourself are sorted about what kind of items you want to sell on your E-Commerce website, it will be really difficult to estimate what kind of competitors exist in the field for you.

To begin with, categorize your E-Commerce website’s size, nature, and idea.

  • Is it something very small and nascent?
  • Are you planning to shape it into a large enterprise with a properly framed structure?
  • What are the goals you wish to achieve with your E-Commerce website?
  • d.You can analyze what challenges you could face because of your competitor and make your website adequately prepared for the same.

To understand these points and many more, you need to follow a three-step procedure.

  • Make an inventory out of the capabilities of your E-Commerce website
  • Jot down what customer needs your website would target catering to
  • Mark any area or areas that make your E-Commerce website unique and outstanding

Step 2: Listing Out Your Competitors and Reasons

Now is the time to begin noting down all the potentially strong competitors you might have to face, considering you are well aware of your own goals by now.

You need to start off with gathering as much information by online surfing, or through any other medium, you deem suitable for the collection of considerate amounts of data.

Here are some reliable and hassle-free sources for the same:

1. Use other E-Commerce Websites: It is super easy to browse some of the top shopping websites like Amazon and eBay and find out what companies and sellers are doing best in terms of your target products.

Besides noting down just the company names for products, you must also make sure you cover the unique features, offers, and attractions they have associated with their goods to turn them into such successes.

2. Decoding Business Models: What is equally essential is decoding the business models of these top-notch competitors when it comes to your chosen products.

You can use google extensively for this purpose, and you will find several blog posts dedicated to the business models of such companies. Try figuring out what works for them and what doesn’t.

3. Using Social Media Platforms: It adds a second layer of knowledge about these brands, their style, popularity, their social media marketing strategies, and so on.

Try finding out what role social media has to play for the company’s success. Try measuring and correlating their sales with their marketing strategies and customer response to them.

See what elements they are using to make their products stand out among the crowd – content management, graphics, free gifts, surveys, and so on.

It is important to be really systematic in your approach to this competition analysis, lest you should feel lost in a crowd of data and information.

You will find it much more useful to invest time in a platform like Excel spreadsheets for more organized, alterable data, compared to jotting things down on paper.

Use these spreadsheets to make a comparison table between the different competitors you are studying.

Make a list of their logistics – name, years in the industry, website, mission, products, pricing, where they have been featured, and so on.

Next, also make a list of their strengths – any good points you can absorb from their marketing strategies, their position in the market, and the reason behind that, their social media presence, and so on.

Also, do not forget to jot down any weaknesses you can catch hold of – uninteresting content, feeble user response, downsides reported by customers and users, and so on.

After this basic data extraction process, you will have known enough about these companies to be able to categorize them further into three types – primary, secondary, and tertiary.

The idea is to channelize your focus more towards those competitors who you have a direct chance of clashing in the market with.

These might be the businesses that deal either in similar products or have the same target audience or you, or those who cater to the same services in the market. We call such competitors as primary ones.

There might be another group of competitors who offer products on similar lines as yours but to a different target customer group, or who somewhat differ enough with your services and goods to not emerge as a very serious threat. We term such competitors as secondary ones.

Yet another type of competitors who have some, but not many similarities with, your E-Commerce platform can be described as tertiary competitors.

In this age of the internet, there are clashes among several distantly related companies as well, whether or not you sell the same product.

A chain dealing in hand-woven craftwork could prove to be a competitor for one that sells factory-made home décor.

Step 3: Scanning Their Websites from Head to Toe

Scanning Their Websites from Head to Toe

For the next step, you already have handy with you who the most important competitors are for you in the market, what products they sell, what is their marketing strategy and their business model, who their customers are, and what their prices are. It seems like you know everything you need to know about the competitor, right? Wrong.

The most important step is to conduct thorough research on their website. This is because glancing through a company’s website can actually give you some interesting insights on fairer details – the company structure, their goals, the size of their establishment, their future scope if any. Besides, it gives you immense opportunity to know their targeted customers.

This you can do by posing yourself as a potential customer to their E-Commerce website. You get a fair idea of the kind of customer experience their site has to offer, whether there are any special features to take note of, whether there are any downsides that you would like to steer clear of in your website, and so on.

There are a number of aspects you will need to take care of when you are conducting this research on the company’s website. Some of the most important ones are as listed below:

1. How Do They Present Their Products?

So, we have had enough talk about what products they are selling. We have already reviewed their labels, brands, prices, and so on. What is left to analyze is how they are selling their products.

It is important to take note of the way in which they describe their products. Is there a particular style they use for all their products? Do they use lists and pointers for describing the product, or do they use graphics to explain the information?

Is there any use of humor in their descriptions? Does it work in their favor? Are there any unique ideas when it comes to photographing and displaying the product before the customer?

2. Do They Have a Separate Tab for Blogs?

It is common these days to say; content is king. A big reason behind the success of E-Commerce websites is usually the kind of blogs they create, which naturally attract wandering minds on the internet.

If you think of it, even you might have spent quite a few minutes online reading some fascinating articles on some products you are interested in, without knowing that you are playing your part in some E-Commerce website’s marketing strategy.

Therefore, it becomes really important to devote ample time to analyze the blog pages of the competitor’s website. There may be a specially dedicated page filled with the latest articles on their products.

Often, these blogs are written to address the pain points of customers, with the company’s product as a suitable solution. Try to identify these content strategies.

How often do they post content on their website? How do they address the reader? What are the issues they write about? Try finding the answers to these and other questions for a comprehensive understanding of the website.

3. Do They Have Any Newsletters or a Mails List?

We can often see companies trying to create a mail list of their potential customers, which they can use to spread the word through emails.

Often, this comes across as a newsletter that pops up regularly in the customer’s inbox, ensuring that the company’s name remains etched in the mind of the customer.

The mailing list also ensures the customer can trust the company with ease and also recommend it to others looking for similar products.

If the competitor already has or is trying to create a mailing list, try figuring out what steps they take to make sure people subscribe themselves to the mailing list.

Are there any special discounts or attractions to subscribing? Is there any way the customer needs to naturally subscribe to the list in order to proceed to a further step?

What happens when one clicks on subscribe? What kind of content do the customers receive in their emails? Does it have any kind of effect on you as a customer?

4. What Are the Kinds of Contact Options Available for the Customer?

A good website also needs to be well-connected with the customers, and this can be done by providing multiple contact opportunities.

People hardly call upon a website’s number unless they have to. Are there more comfortable options for the customer to use, social media apps, for example?

Another very important feature would be whether or not there is an option of live chat.

Considering what kind of products you have decided to sell, you can learn from the competitor whether or not having a live chat is necessary and beneficial to the company’s sales in any way.

5. How Effective Are Their Options for CTA?
cta-guide

You need to have a clear idea about the Call-to-Actions of the given competitor’s website. Besides its efficiency, its clarity, strength, and usage options are of importance too.

6. Are There Any ‘Coming Soon’ Features That They Are Likely to Cover?

It might be only upon browsing the website that you find out some special genre that this competitor of yours is about to cover in the near future. It might so happen that this might clash with some idea of yours.

On the other hand, you may also use this data to analyze how to break down your ideas into smaller fragments; in case you now thing launching all products at once wouldn’t be as impressive.

Perhaps this can also channelize your thoughts towards launching few products at a time to maintain the customer’s anticipation and excitement.

7. What Is the Theme of Their Website, and Does It Go with the Main Idea of Their Business?

Although this is something related to design, it is something the customer will not be able to resist noticing whenever he visits the website.

Every good website on the internet has a great theme for enhancing customer experience, doesn’t it?

Try to figure out what elements your competitors have used on their website to make it stand out.

Are there elements that convey the idea of the business’ motives and offers? Is there a particular element that you think could be related to what you have to offer?

Perhaps after giving some thought to this, you might develop a vague idea of what you would want the world to see your website as.

At the end of the accumulation of all the above data, it might be a good idea to complete a SWOT analysis for better comparison and weight.

Step 4: Extracting Market Standings and Performance

Extracting Market Standings and Performance

Understanding the market position of the competitor gives an insight not just into their performances and strengths, but also into the reality of the market itself. These are two of the most important observations you can derive from a close study.

What is essential for understanding the competitor’s position has been listed below:

  • The message your competitor’s brand is trying to leave to customers if any.
  • The kind of products which customers are more inclined towards purchasing from their website
  • The ways in which their brand manages to stay unique and desirable.
  • The steps taken by your competitor to make sure they remain ahead of other competitors in the league, which you have chosen not to speculate much.
  • The features they choose to highlight often about their brand
  • The USP (Unique Selling Point) for the company and how it is being made known to the customer/visitor.
  • The steps taken by them to ensure their target audience pays attention to their products and services.

Taking note of the points mentioned above can help you a long way in determining what are the best and some not-so-great features about your competitor when it comes to their market presence.

Further, you can also try to observe the following few points for a clearer understanding of the market itself –

  • The features related to the product of your choice that are seeing higher sales.
  • The replacements or modifications the product has seen in recent times.
  • The kind of price hike or drop the product has seen in the market in the past few years.

These and many more points are to be noted in case you want to do in-depth research about the market and also your competitor’s standing in it.

In no time, you will yourself be expecting to make a mark in the same market, and therefore it becomes important to be adequately informed.

Furthermore, you could choose to act like a potential customer for your competitor for the next few days, and be a part of all the process another customer would.

You could subscribe to their email newsletters; you could undergo the processes of signing up, ordering or cancelling orders, asking for refunds, and so on to identify any pain points or any inspiring hacks that can help you in your website.

Step 5: Deriving from Their Strategies

After you have taken note of, deriving from them is the most important. You may want to spend more and more time researching competitors and looking out for the best ideas, but spending no time in analysis and inspiration leads to zero results anyway.

Firstly, you should try to derive their pricing strategies after all you have studied about their products, offers, and performance.

This is because E-Commerce websites are the place where customers tend to get items in desirable prices and attractive discounts.

If you have a pricing strategy or some idea of what your product prices might be, you could now choose to compare how you and your competitor differ in this matter.

This can help you in dual ways – you learn how products are rated in the market these days, and you can also craft out ways to attract more and more customers with better prices than your competitors.

Other things to take care of would be their shipping and return policies, their approach to social media marketing, and customer relationships.

Finalizing Your Target Audience & Product

Finalizing Your Target Audience & Product

You have done the research, and you have cross-checked the facts and figures. You have also found out your fiercest competitors and their strengths and figures.

You have answered a lot of questions and sought even more in your process of evaluation of the narrowed down ideas.

It is, therefore, time to bring all the analysis together for some final brainstorming over the product, its feasibility, and the target audience is aimed for

Besides, you must also take the necessary steps not just to define but also plan on reaching out to your target audience.

What Is the Target Audience?

A specific group of people who you have identified as the intended or potential customers of your E-Commerce venture is the target audience for you.

This is largely based on the type and impact of your product and services because people will resort to using them only when they need it.

The catch is that you cannot create these needs; you can only identify them.

How to Define Your Target Audience?

How to Define Your Target Audience
Step 1: Understanding Customer Demographics

We live in a world where the global population has crossed the seven billion mark; it is quite tricky to go for a business venture without defining your target base.

The results of not going for a targeted plan would be poorer marketing, more cases of irrelevance for customers and thus unsatisfactory performance of your company in the market.

One of the ways to define your target customer base would be by studying the target demographics:

  • Age group, you want to cater to
  • Whether your products are gender-specific or gender-neutral
  • Specificity concerning geographic location
  • Whether or not you are providing to a particular ethnicity or religion
  • Filtering based on education, profession and income, and so on.
Step 2: Defining in Detail the Characteristics of the Target Customer

After you have taken the above call, you would want to define in detail what the characteristics of the target customer are in your mind.

Derive these from any demographical data you have collected, as well as psychographic data based on the audience's behavior and demand.

Also crucial is to go back to the first research you have done about the pain points and needs of customers, and the potential solutions your product has to offer.

A combined inference from all of the above can help you deriving strong solid points about your target audience.

Step 3: Creating a Strong Brand Value

Utilize the powers of content creation and brand awareness to create substantial value for your E-Commerce venture. For the time being, you need to plan out strategies for both and keep some content handy, which you can float at the time of your store launch.

Only by spreading the word can you ensure customer attraction and retention. Another powerful impact of content management can be sharing more and more information with the customer and allowing them to explore your products on their own. Just keep in mind not to promote content to irrelevant customers, that is way out of line with the target audience you have defined earlier.

Before we proceed to the next step of setting up an E-Commerce store, you need to go through a brief revision of sorts for your product, your market, and your goals.

Just revise the following points –

  • Am I aware of the potential market size and landscape?
  • Am I aware of the type of market I have chosen – trend, growing, fad, or flat?
  • Who are my target customers?
  • Have I fixed a potential selling price?
  • How have I filtered out my products if I have at all?
  • Is the goal of my product any of the following – problem-solving, attacking a pain point, or serving customer hobbies?
  • Do I have a marketing strategy in my mind?

Chapter 4: Setting Up E-Commerce Storefront

Setting Up E-Commerce Storefront

We agree that reaching up to this stage where you get to set your E-Commerce storefront is a mammoth task in itself.

We can almost say that your job is half done, for now, come to the more technical aspects, besides some components that do require creativity and brainstorming.

However, the fact that you have made it so far implies that the rest of the process is going to be a cakewalk for you.

4.1 Deciding the Name of Storefront

Although this isn’t something that needs many days and weeks of brainstorming, you should go for a catchy brand name. After all, you want it to be the talk of the town.

You might even take help from the multiple unique business name generators available on the internet that offer you dual help – first, by giving you great name ideas based on your products and services. Secondly, they also make sure you get unique domain names for the store.

4.2 Analysing & Buying Host & Domain

This step is as hard as it is crucial to undertake and needs some guidance and quality check.

One of the most important criteria when it comes to choosing a domain is the quality, and this brings us to a few factors we need to take care of while ignoring the others.

  • Do not go for external SEO ranks to analyze the domain. Examples include PageAuthority, DomainAuthority, MozRank, and so on.
  • Do not get influenced by the domain’s PR without taking into consideration other important factors.
  • Use Google’s PageRank or PR for wiser decisions when it comes to analyzing domains. This is because of Google’s vast resources, relevance, and technical prowess.
  • Backlink quality and diversity play an important role in determining better backlinks.
  • Always go for domains that have higher authorization levels.
  • Try analyzing the external links of the domain – the total number of external links in the page of a backlink. If the number is too high, it may indicate spam. Usually, the lesser the number, the better the backlink is.
  • The older a backlink, the lower the chances it has of being removed.
  • Verifying that the top backlinks have the following features –
    • They are real – they exist in the HTML code along with the page
    • They are placed in a related context
    • They are placed within a reputable website

4.3 Selecting the E-Commerce Platform

Selecting the right E-Commerce platform matters a lot for your business. Simply listing the products and their descriptions on the website are not enough if you want to attract a suitable customer base.

The characteristics of a good E-Commerce platform are:

  • One that suits the goals and objectives you have set for your business.
  • One that delivers impressively when it comes to outcome and performance

Factors to Consider When Selecting an E-Commerce Platform

Factors to Consider When Selecting an E-Commerce Platform
1. Hidden and Overhead Charges

Different kinds of E-Commerce platforms have different types of charges.

Most noticeably, these can be divided as maintenance costs, costs involving UX changes and upgrades, or those incurred as a result of the implementation of reforms.

You should try to make sure that you choose a platform where quality is ensured despite reasonable pricing.

2. Vendor Expertise

You should try to ensure that the vendor really has the skills and expertise required to meet all your requirements and the complex work procedure.

3. Flexibility

Not just in terms of platform suitability, but also when it comes to processes like pricing, payment methods, and collaboration with other software or websites.

4. Scalability

Of course, you want your business to grow, and that requires that the platform grows too. Any platform that does not offer features of scaling when the need arises is not fit for your E-Commerce venture.

5. Support

Be it facing issues during the setup or during execution, emergency support from your platform vendor’s side is expected and necessary at all hours of the day.

6. Mobile-Friendliness

E-Commerce is continually evolving, and smartphones are not just their present but also their future. Therefore, the platform must be able to provide the user with a mobile-friendly experience of your website.

7. SEO-Optimization
SEO

The latest trends and the most important of customer demands – everything gets reflected in the highs of the search engine these days. Therefore, your platform must be able to guarantee efficient SEO techniques for your success.

8. Security

These days, the internet is the riskiest and dangerous of places to be in, especially for newbies to the commerce and trading world. Make sure your E-Commerce platform provides you security against all kinds of threats.

9. Customer Security

Besides the security of your data, it is important to ensure that the customer experience doesn’t go sour because of any data security issues.

10. Opportunity of Personalization

The E-Commerce website is going to speak about your ideas and your business venture. It is very important, therefore, that there is enough room for personalization and freedom of expression, which the platform must provide.

11. Google Merchant Integration

Google merchant is a special tool that can be utilized by companies to make sure that their products are displayed as search results in the shopping tab on a Google page.

The platform you choose must be one that provides such integration for information sharing. 35% of Google Searches have turned into transactions within 5 days.

12. E-Commerce Analytics

A built-in analytics system is a must if you want to have a proper scope of evaluation and monitoring of all the important metrics and KPIs related to your E-Commerce venture.

13. Social Media Integration

These days social media sites have launched their own business accounts to help people promote their establishments amidst multiple circles. Go for a platform that supports integration with such social media sites like Facebook and Instagram.

14. Payment Gateway Options

Customers are relying more and more on online payment methods, which come today under various platforms. A reliable E-Commerce platform would be one that offers multiple payment gateway options to the customer as well as to you with ease.

Based on the above features and also based on the latest trends, we have shortlisted a few E-Commerce platforms that you might want to consider.

Each has its own pros and cons, yet you better have a look personally after this comprehensive guide to choosing between the best.

Top E-Commerce Platforms Of 2019

Top E-Commerce Platforms Of 2019
1. WooCommerce

This is one E-Commerce platform that continues to be a popular choice among many entrepreneurs despite several new and successful names coming up in the market.

With a record of 3.3 million websites to its credit, WooCommerce owns an astonishing percentage of E-Commerce ventures on the internet.

Pros

  • A. An Absolutely Free and Open-Source Platform
  • The platform is open to all designers, programmers, and developers absolutely free of cost.

    It works based on open collaboration and is the best go-to option for anyone who has experience working with WordPress.

  • B. Opportunity for Customization
  • You have the liberty of choosing a desirable theme for your E-Commerce website from the vast library that this platform provides.

    You have the scope of customizing everything from the header, footer, sheets, etc. This makes it great for newbies as well as professionals.

  • C. Flexible and Secure
  • Two of the most desirable characteristics for an E-Commerce platform are available with WooCommerce.

    They offer you extensive cybersecurity as well as safe payment methods. Besides, you could be working on almost any kind of online store with its flexible platform.

woocommerce-features

Cons

  • A. Extensions Are Not Free
  • Although working on the platform is otherwise completely free of cost, certain extensions on it aren’t. You have the option of availing them either by a monthly fee or time-to-time charges.

  • B. Too Many Plugins
  • Performance does leave a mark, doesn’t it? Although having so many extensions seems really great at first, it gradually leads to slower working speeds and hindrances to performance.

2. Shopify

Established in 2009, Shopify is another trusted name in the world of E-Commerce platforms. They provide end-to-end user service, which means you do not have to go anywhere else for setting your E-Commerce store super quick.

Pros

  • A. Speedy and Secure Hosting
  • Shopify literally handles everything that you need to worry about when it comes to E-Commerce security and domain hosting issues – hackers, caching, data compliance, and so on. Along with this, it brings a lot of speed and accuracy to its process.

  • B. Brilliant Customer Support
  • Thanks to their great database that covers everything from phone, email, and chat support to FAQs and ever-ready information, Shopify customer support is hands-down the best in the market.

  • C. Marketing Campaigns Made Easy
  • Marketing is one of the most crucial parts of any E-Commerce venture’s working. This is something that Shopify has grasped really well and excelled in it.

Cons

  • A. A Costly Affair
  • Unlike WooCommerce’s free features, Shopify charges extensively for most of its services. You have to pay not just a monthly charge but also a fee for platform transactions, credit card charges, add-ons, and so on.

  • B. Initial Setup Issues
  • The initial setup process at Spotify is not as smooth as it must. It will take you some research and background knowledge as well as enough time on your hands to do so.

  • C. Not-So-Great Blogging Software
  • Content is king when it comes to E-Commerce, yet Shopify seems not to have paid much attention to that.

    The blogging software is not very satisfactory, and users will have to look out to other platforms for better content generation.

3. Magento

One of the most widely-known names when it comes to the digital commerce world, Magento, has always been a stiff competitor to every other name on this list.

Pros

  • A. Flexibility
  • Unlike WooCommerce’s free features, Shopify charges extensively for most of its services. You have to payBeing an open-source platform, Magento allows a great deal of customization, third-party integration, and room for achieving chosen features without compromising on experience.

  • B. Unique Features
  • It’s list of abundant unique and interesting features has lent a great stance to Magento in the market.

    There are options of varying prices for different sets of customers, creating shopping communities with other users, and so on.

  • C. Large User Community
  • Being one of the leading E-Commerce platforms in the world means that it has a huge user community. This makes the platform very dependable and trustworthy.

magento-features

Cons

  • A. Very Few Developers
  • Magento is too large a company with a large user community, so many databased and files. This makes the number of authentic Magento developers look seemingly small and insufficient.

  • B. Expensive
  • Even though a particular version of the platform, the community version, is free of cost, you need to pay a hefty sum to be part of the enterprise community. There are additional charges for the installation of extensions and so on.

  • C. Dissatisfactory Product Support
  • Due to reasons like the absence of requisite monitoring and inadequate support, users on the platform are liable to experience unresolved or unattended issues along with the dangers of scam.

4. BigCommerce

One of the top players in the E-Commerce market today, BigCommerce, has to its credit one of the most robust entries.

Pros

  • A. Easy On The Pocket
  • Compared to the downsides of other contemporaries, BigCommerce offers much cheaper packages and software performances.

  • B. Flexibility Of Customization
  • BigCommerce’s vast diversity of business design tools help ease the task of customization for creating theme-based websites.

  • C. Commitment To Security & Support
  • BigCommerce offers aggressive security measures to make sure that your business faces the least risks of cybersecurity-related issues. Besides, it offers 24 x 7 support for all your platform-related issues.

Cons

  • A. Absence of a Lite Version
  • Though it seems not to be too much of an issue, with its contemporaries working towards creating lite versions that can cater to anytime usage on the go, perhaps working on one could popularize BigCommerce as well.

  • B. Themes Are Expensive
  • The great virtual design tools that come with BigCommerce are not all free. In fact, some of the best themes come at exorbitant rates.

  • C. Fee Increases As You Taste Success
  • Although the platform caters to its services at very reasonable annual rates initially, once your company starts accruing higher revenue, the annual pricing increases as well.

5. PrestaShop

Introduced to the digital commerce world in 2007, PrestaShop has succeeded in making a challenging and competitive identity for itself.

Pros

  • A. Easy installation
  • The best thing about PrestaShop is that they offer a very comprehensive way of dealing with the app installation and event registration process. It’s almost like launching your website was just a few steps away.

  • B. Demographic Assistance
  • You can use PrestaShop for opening a store catering to any target audience from around the world, for it has a database with relevant data, currency, and language support.

  • C. Economic & Efficient
  • With reasonable pricing and a user-friendly environment, the platform can be truly called efficient and economical.

PrestaShop-features

Cons

  • A. Limited Scalability
  • PrestaShop must not be your choice if you are looking to expand your business significantly in the future, for it offers limited features for scalability.

  • B. Inadequate Support Services
  • It can be said that PrestaShop’s biggest downside is the absence of a dedicated support team to handle any issues and grievances that platform users face.

  • C. Dissatisfactory Design
  • The design features are nowhere in comparison to its other contemporaries and would work well only for low-budget E-Commerce ventures.

6. OpenCart

Pros

  • A. Easier To Go International
  • With the support of multiple languages and a vast pool for customization resources, OpenCart is the ideal platform in case you want to go international with your E-Commerce venture.

  • B. Offers Built-in Analytics
  • With its complete set metrics and reports for timely accurate analyses, OpenCart ensures that you do not have to go anywhere else for these routine check-ups of your company’s well-being.

  • C. Flexibility & Scalability
  • Two of the most sought-after characteristics when it comes to E-Commerce platforms come to life with OpenCart.

    It offers you the flexibility of functioning, pricing strategies, payment gateways, and shipping options, along with the feature of scalability as your business evolved into greater success by the day.

opencart-features

Cons

  • A. Poor Customer Experience
  • Customers require speed as well as security. While the latter is not an issue with OpenCart, it definitely tends to slow down during processes like check out, which is something you would not want your customer to experience.

  • B. Incompatible Installations
  • It is after installing the seemingly perfect extensions and plugins that you might notice that they do not work perfectly with the platform. This leads to a bitter experience and unwanted delay in work.

4.4 Crafting & Adding A Brand Logo

Your store logo is something that the customer will readily identify with. Therefore, the logo must depict the central idea or the message your business wishes to convey.

At the same time, it should be something that stands out and is memorable for the potential customer.

Several E-Commerce platforms these days provide the feature of creating logos based on your brand name, the message you wish to convey, and the chief idea behind your business.

There are also several talented graphic designers in the market to resort to when you are in need of such creative content.

If you personally have something on your mind, you are free to go ahead and develop a unique icon for your E-Commerce website yourself.

Chapter 5: Setting Up Payment, Shipping & Billing Information

Setting Up Payment, Shipping & Billing Information

5.1 Choosing the Payment Gateway Provider

Next, we come to set up the payment gateway provider for your E-Commerce venture. No wonder you would want to have multiple options available for your customer.

Yet a brief understanding of the pros and cons of each of the biggest names in the market would be better before starting.

1. PayPal

PayPal is an immensely popular payment gateway used throughout the world. It is one of the payment options you have come across on some of the other shopping websites so far.

According to PayPal, they have more than 80 million active accounts across a whopping 190 markets, working in 24 currencies across the globe.

Pros:

  • Easy setup and usage
  • The widely popular platform, so customers must be already acquainted
  • A lesser fee charged compared to other contemporaries for a merchant account
  • Can be integrated with multiple shopping cart systems

Cons:

  • No seller protection policy for E-Commerce goods
  • Procedures, such as withdrawals, take a good number of business days
  • The fee they charge for chargebacks is considerably quite high.

2. Stripe

A widely used third-party payment processor, Stripe is a payment gateway platform that enables payments through such a wide variety of methods – currencies from different parts of the world, credit and debit cards, e-wallets, and so on.

Pros:

  • It offers the cheapest payment processing fees among many of its contemporaries.
  • It offers much scope of customization for programmers.
  • Offers to cater to international payment solutions with its efficient database and work structure.

Cons:

  • Users are liable to account cancellation without effective notice period because of constant reviewing of account activity by Stripe.
  • Not much scope for working with the gateway if you do not have a programming background or are not ready to hire specialists.

3. Authorize.net

Considered one of the most reliable payment gateway options in the market, Authorize.net offers some unique features in its work domain like an advanced fraud detection suite and customer information management.

Pros:

  • 1.It comes with an entire package of services under one umbrella. So, you need to pay to just one platform for everything ranging from the payment gateway to recurring bill services
  • 2.Better availability in more parts of the world compared to other payment gateway options
  • 3.No cost of setup required.

Cons:

  • 1.Users have reported multiple failed payment processes, at least 5-10% per month.
  • 2.Several reporting issues, inadequate data analytics support
  • 3.The number of currencies it accepts is merely 7, while contemporaries like PayPal accept over 100.

4. Skrill

Founded in 2001, Skrill has slowly emerged out as one of the most popular payment options in the world today. It is especially popular among casinos as a much-used payment solution for credit renewal.

Pros:

  • 1.Any user-related information remains only within the company’s servers, hence a secure framework.
  • No fee required for money withdrawal, just a 1% commission.
  • 3.Major fund transfers are possible with a Skrill account.

Cons:

  • 1.Few international banks refuse to cooperate with Skrill
  • 2.Slow responses at times
  • 3.Payments to other processing items are often restricted.

5. Checkout

One of the most easy-to-use and affordable payment gateway options available today, 2Checkout, has been designed exclusively for the best experiences when handling E-Commerce ventures.

Pros:

  • 1.Multiple languages and currency support
  • 2.The opportunity of the fully customized checkout process
  • 3.Optimal fraud prevention tools and technology

Cons:

  • 1.Not much flexibility offered in terms of features and capabilities
  • 2.A skilled team will be required for implementation if you lack the expertise
  • 3.The dashboard is not very user-friendly and clear in the beginning.

5.2 Finalizing the Shipping & Billing Information

Whatever E-Commerce platform you prefer eventually for your venture, along with the payment gateway options, must by now be decided on.

After that, we proceed to the settings on the platform provider and adjust any information related to the billing and shipping processes of four customers.

For example, you might want to offer free shipping to any corner of the world. 79% of US consumers have admitted to preferring free shipping products than those with charges.

In such a case, you need to make sure that firstly, you do not have non-international shipping zones chosen on the platform.

Secondly, make sure to tweak the rates as per your wish, say the international zone rate changed to ‘free.’

It depends on what kind of shipping rates you wish to charge from your customer; edit the settings accordingly. Next, the billing information needs to be taken care of.

On your E-Commerce platform, under the account section, you would need to enter the appropriate billing information regarding the account where any money from the customer’s payment is supposed to reach.

Go through these two steps carefully. Although editable in the future, you do not want to be less careful with the monetary information, right?

Chapter 6: Product Manufacturing, Packaging & Shipping

Product Manufacturing, Packaging & Shipping

So, we are done with yet another subsection dealing with E-Commerce platforms, payment gateway options, and billing/shipping data.

This is followed by ensuring that you procure the products you have planned for at optimal prices, best quality, and from trusted manufacturers.

6.1 Finding Out the Right Distributor

Considering that you have chosen to go for some sort of a niche store as far as your E-Commerce venture is concerned, and the fact that you have planned some unique and desirable products to be listed on your website, garnering them from the best manufacturer is a challenge.

Besides, if you are planning to go international with your commodities, you could be in need of a global manufacturer, so you can cut down on shipping costs because of geographically constrained suppliers.

6.1.1 Analyzing Your Industry’s Distribution Channels

There is no single way in which the product of your choice is supposed to reach from the manufacturer to your website.

There are always multiple such distribution channels, and their components vary from industry to industry. All you need is a little research to find out what the channel looks like for you.

Usually, there are four types of industry channels for different companies.

  • 1. The Manufacturer: boutique stores, for example, avail their products directly from small manufacturers.
  • 2. Importer/Exclusive Distributor: some industries have channels where the importer has the exclusive rights to hand products down either to the retailer or to smaller distributors after procuring the products from the manufacturer.
  • 3. Wholesaler/Regional Distributor: in bigger industries, such distributors take care of products and hand them down to local wholesalers or directly to retailers.
  • 4. Jobbers: the most common kind of suppliers we see handing products down to various stores.
Layer 1: The Global Manufacturer
Analyzing Your Industry Distribution Channels

The best idea would be to start directly at the source of product manufacture. The benefits of approaching the manufacturer directly are many – you are cutting down the commission costs of the product coming down the distribution channel.

You might even get links to other distributors in case your venture is not big enough for the manufacturer to supply directly to you. This helps you establishing links in the industry you are to stay in.

Layer 2: The Wholesale Supplier

After you receive a list of distributor names, you can start approaching them one by one. You must try to find out from the data related to minimum order requirements and the unit prices at wholesale rates.

This allows you to get comparative results and proceed to take a step you deem best for the business. You should consider having people around you who have a fair idea of the market and of handling such distributors with ease.

Layer 3: An Internet Search for Wholesalers

The internet is not a bad place to search for anything and everything you want to these days. Try conducting a simple Google search about the wholesalers catering to niche products, like yours, and be sure to avail relevant information and contact details of the best in the market.

Layer 4: Hunting Major B2B Marketplaces

There are several online marketplaces that have an endless number of active manufacturers and wholesalers you would want to reach out to.

Some of the best ones in the market are Alibaba, Global Sources, Buyer Zone, EC Plaza, Busy Trade, and EC21.

Layer 5: Joining Major Forums Related to Your Industry

The other thing you could do is to join public internet forums catering to the goods and services of your industry. These forums are great places to meet and connect with people who can help you in terms of product supply, and so on.

Layer 6: Participating or Visiting a Trade Fair

One of the most powerful ways to meet people who are directly related to your industry or even your niche would be to attend a trade fair.

Such trade fairs take place on a grand scale in some of the biggest cities, and you should make sure you attend the nearest one, or whichever you feel would click for you.

You can search online for the upcoming trade shows on tsnn.com.

6.2 Deciding the Product Packaging

Packaging and shipping are two very important ways that can decide what your customer thinks about your service, especially when it comes to E-Commerce.

The packaging helps make or break the brand image; for the first time, the customer actually holds the product in their hands is within the package.

There are a number of reasons that may catch the customer’s eye, as we speak about packaging.

Any visible tampering with the product packaging is definitely not desirable and leads to a bad reputation for the company. Besides, weak packaging is likely to lead to damage and risk to the product itself.

Not just this, good packaging is a great way of publicity through the customer, for they are likely that the content customer either posts a picture of their product along with the package on social media.

According to Dotcom, 39% of the people have shared pictures, and videos of their new online purchases and the most widely used platforms were Facebook (84%), Twitter (32%), Instagram (31%), YouTube (28%) and Pinterest (20%).

Factors to Consider When Deciding on the Packaging

Factors to Consider When Deciding on the Packaging
  • 1.The specifications of the product: the weight, size, shape, type, the value of the shipment, and so on.
  • 2.The material of packaging for both external and internal packaging. You can choose between single and double-walled for external packaging and bubble wrap, foam wrap, foam peanuts, airbags, crumpled papers, corrugated inserts, and so on.
  • 3.Careful sealing of the package is an extremely important step. Pressure-sensitive and water-resistant tapes are a must, and so is the importance of securing edges over multiple layers.
  • 4.There are other methods like a single box method or the double box method depending on the kind of product and the ways of transportation.

6.3 Finalizing the Shipping Methods

After the hefty task of making sure that you pick out only the best options from amidst the array of features available for making your website user-friendly, we now come to the topic of shipping methods.

Choosing shipping partners might feel like handing your service and customer experience to a complete stranger and relying on them to make sure that the customer has a seamless experience. This can get tricky, and it is, therefore, crucial to pay more attention to this step.

To begin with, you should have the following shipping strategy goals:

shipping strategy goals
  • 1.Higher conversion rates
  • 2.Lesser costs incurred
  • 3.The higher average value of placed orders
  • 4.More efficient operations
  • 5.The increased margin of the target audience

Shipping From Home

Better called shipping from a warehousing solution, this is when you decide to stock products for an extended period of time.

You might want to have a large storage center and equip it with the necessary resources for various processes related to packaging and shipping.

This is comparatively a cost-effective solution because you are paying the rent for space and hiring the right people. It's just that you would have to take care of a lot of processes, inventories, and quality output.

Shipping from Third-Party Logistics Company

Shipping with a Third-Party Logistics Company, or a 3PL is simple. The 3PL fulfills customer orders for the E-Commerce retailer, that is, you, and handles everything from timely organized deliveries to proper packaging and so on.

You can see it as an efficient link in the supply chain, which helps you divert your attention towards other components while it takes care of the shipping for you. It saves you time, energy, and responsibility.

Also known as drop shipping, this is one way where you, the retailer, don’t get to physically see the product when it is dispatched to the customer.

The physical location where the 3PL conducts the entire process is known as the fulfillment center.

Chapter 7: Launching E-Commerce Storefront

Launching E-Commerce Storefront

7.1 Picking A Date & Time for Launch

Picking the right date and time for launching your E-Commerce venture is important because that is the day it could either make or break your brand name in the market.

With the internet being accessible to almost anyone in this wide world, an E-Commerce website like yours, with its uniqueness and niche products, is not going to take too long to make an impact.

Believe it or not, it matters to all stakeholders when you are planning to launch the E-Commerce venture. The perfect date and time will come to you once you have gone through these questions carefully.

  • 1.Is your product likely to do well at a particular time of the year or month?
  • 2.Is there a certain day when customers are more likely to respond to novelties in the market, say Tuesday based on research by Sunscrapers?
  • 3.Is your business international? This would mean you need to take care of time zones for evaluating the hour of the launch.

Understanding and evaluation of the above factors can help you decide the exact date and time for launching the product.

7.2 Designing A Classy Landing Page

Maybe you already have something in mind about how your landing page would look – some random sketches about themes, icons, messages, and slogans. Use them now to design a classy landing page.

A landing page is like a digital storefront. Just like their physical counterparts, they act as individual entities that the customer takes a glance at to either feel impressed or let down.

The landing page should be able to give a sneak peek into your products, offers, uniqueness, and niche.

You can choose out of the many themes available on the E-Commerce platform of your choice, or you may customize one to get what you have envisioned.

You might even want to look up some of the best ones in the market and get inspired by their take on promoting their products.

Your E-Commerce platform is expected to guide you in the process and also provide the necessary tools for customization and addition. You do not need too much technical knowledge for the same.

7.3 Adding Social Sharing Buttons

In the current world of the digital revolution, social media is one of the most powerful tools you can use to enhance your platform’s popularity.

You might even browse some of the top E-Commerce platforms and see ways in which they have integrated social media sharing buttons.

Some offer attractive discounts to their customers after the successful sharing of products and promotional posts.

No wonder you want more and more people to publicize your website on different social media platforms.

This will help in promotions without you having to work hard for them, for it is the customer that will be promoting your website among their circles.

Attractive offers and discounts for doing the same ensure it’s a win-win situation for both sides.

To do this, you need to ensure that you add social sharing buttons in your website so that people can share products, reviews, offers, and much more within their circles and more on social media platforms.

People tend to do this much more on platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, besides messaging platforms like WhatsApp and Messenger.

7.4 Double Check for Everything

Double Check for Everything

Just before launching your website and the array of amazing products, you need to double-check everything for any cases of missing out any crucial points or any kind of careless errors. Here’s a little checklist for you to go through before you land in the market with a bam!

  • 1.Check for any little errors, such as typos on the landing page itself or content that doesn’t seem interesting and easy to read. The sentences should be small, the language simple, and the images relevant and captioned.
  • 2.Make sure your time zone and related settings are correct.
  • 3.Check if the images have been optimized for speedy loading.
  • 4.Make sure all call-to-action forms and contact forms are working correctly.
  • 5.Double-check that all anti-spam protection measures are in shape.
  • 6.Make sure you have tested all payment gateway options at least once to make sure there are no technical glitches anywhere.
  • 7.Double-check all security features and steps
  • 8.Try using the mobile version of your E-Commerce website to make sure customers have a seamless experience.
  • 9.Check to ensure that the navigation through your website – going to new tabs and pages, loading products and their information, going to and fro the shopping cart, and so on – is easy and simple.
  • 10.Double-check your robots.txt file to ensure there is always efficient filtering and display of your website in case of related searches on search engines
  • 11.Make sure the website is compatible with different kinds of popular browsers in the market.
  • 12.Use an appropriate compatibility checker to see if all plugins or extensions work well with the platform.
  • 13.Double-check all the URLs on the website.
  • 14.Ensure you have an SEO plugin configured for your website.
  • 15.Double-check your HTML and XML sitemaps for these two things – that they really exist and are working sans errors.
  • 16.Make sure the social media integration buttons actually work, and links or posts can be easily shared.
  • 17.Make sure you haven’t missed out on designing the ‘Contact Us’ page with all relevant and updated information. Cross-check if the links actually lead to the right website (say map, portfolio, etc.)
  • 18.Make sure to have a suitable back up option for your website installed before launching it.
  • 19.Double-check all the legalities:
    • a. Image, plugin, font licenses
    • b. Inclusion of a cookie warning
    • c. Terms and condition section updates
    • d. Inclusion of terms and services policy
    • e. Verification and processing legalities
    • f. GDPR compliance
  • 20.No unwanted plugins, components, tabs, and links.
  • 21.Check for the responsiveness and efficiency of autoresponders, if any.

7.5 It’s Time to Launch.!

You’ve done the checking, and you’ve found everything is in place. You’ve also reached the date you have planned to launch your E-Commerce website. But there’s still room for perfection. Maybe you should wait for a little more?

Absolutely not. The biggest fault you can make at this stage is to wait for your E-Commerce website to be perfect and free of all glitches or outdated characteristics before it is to be launched. In reality, there will always be such pits to fill in, which you can as well do with time as the business expands.

So, its time to take action after the long time you have spent in turning your vision into reality. Together with your drive for achieving your dream and the technical prowess you have acquired, it is time you enter the world of E-Commerce right away.

Chapter 8: Onto the Customer Service

_Onto the Customer Service

Even after the website has been launched and is already in action, there is vast room for improvement, integrations, and inspiration. This begins with enhancing your customer service.

With time, as your business grows and more and more customers visit the website, there will arise a few necessities that you cannot ignore.

Be it the issue of the need for customers to engage with you directly over problems, or the need for setting up better experience features for them; this is the time to start working towards better customer service.

8.1 Set Up Unique Business Email for Customer Service

There are several undiscussed benefits of setting up a professional business email address that shall cater to customer service and much more.

  • Your brand name becomes popularized every time a communication is established over the email address
  • Business email accounts are provided with extra security layers
  • There are lesser chances of your professional email address being targeted towards the spam folder in customer emails
  • It also helps improving sales by showcasing your professional side to the prospective customer
  • Customer inquiries and tickets now have a chance of availing professional responses

All you really need to do is find the perfect domain name for your E-Commerce venture and check whether it is available or not.

It is always preferable to use the website domain name only, for it shows your professionalism and dedication.

Besides, customers are more likely to remember a unique domain name for your business rather than a common every day email address. This increases the chances of sharing your links on social media platforms.

8.2 Implement Chatting Facility on Storefront

The live chat feature allows the customer to connect immediately with the website admin through a messaging platform that is integrated with the website itself.

Regarded as an important website feature by most customers, live chat is essential to incorporate because:

  • It can reduce the pressure of emails
  • It can increase sales and reduce costs
  • It helps in better understanding of customer issues and demands
  • It is a great push if your contemporaries don’t have the feature yet.

Integrating live chat onto your website is usually quite affordable and easy to implement.

There is also the scope of free trials with some of the service providers to see for yourself what suits you best.

61% of US consumers have admitted to messaging online businesses within three months.

Some common live chat providers in the market are – Zopim, Olark, Helloify, ClickDesk, and SnapEngage.

All you need is to follow a three-step process for integrating live chat with your website.

  • Secure the code given to you by the provider and paste it onto your website template
  • Install the necessary software for the live chat messaging service provided by the platform you choose
  • Add the relevant data asked for according to the platform you are using

That’s it! You can get started.

8.3 Creating FAQ For Your Storefront

Most customers these days are on the lookout for the FAQ page on an E-Commerce page where they can get a fair idea of almost anything they need to know about the website, its policies, its products, and so on.

It is also quite beneficial for you in the long run for you to cut down the number of repetitive questions that land in your inboxes.

What Should an E-Commerce FAQ Page Be Like?

What Should an E-Commerce FAQ Page Be Like_

Well, here we go.

1. Short and Simple

The customer will not be interested in paragraphs or essays. They would want to have brief answers to their brief questions.

2. Based On and Appear Like Customer-Queries

After all, you are writing from the customer’s perspective. Make sure it sounds like it was written for them.

3. Positive and Promising

At no point should it seem like the customer’s queries are unwelcome, no matter how obvious they are.

4. Inclusive of Call-to-Action Forms

Perhaps not always necessary, but CTA forms can really boost to customer activity on your website.

5. With Relevant Contact Information for Further Queries

It may happen that the FAQ doesn’t have questions or answers that the customer is seeking; therefore, this information is a must.

Chapter 9: Building Your Brand

Building Your Brand

If the sea of competitors hasn’t made you realize the need for building your brand’s presence, look around one more time.

For a fact, there are several billion people in the world who are on social media today, and they use the internet daily to come across newer, better, and more specific websites to answer their needs.

This and much more make building your brand with little steps at a time very crucial to gaining any success in the long run.

The number one stage for this is the very powerful social media, as also believed by some of the top players in the market.

9.1 Make Use of Social Media

Social-Media-Monitoring-&-Publishing

We have already discussed social media’s importance for business promotion and popularity, and we are not going over the same things again.

Yet, we need to stress on some steps you could take after your website’s launch to make your presence bigger on the social media platform.

For a fact, 83% of people have admitted to using Instagram to discover and research new and products and services that they would like to purchase.

Few Tips On How To Utilize Social Media

1. Consistency Across Multiple Social Media Platforms

Different social media platforms demand differently when it comes to social media marketing.

While Facebook is always more about written content and website links, Instagram is about images and compelling pictures.

Where Twitter is about eye-catching slogans, LinkedIn is about video stories that tell people what your brand is about.

The mammoth tasks before you are to remain consistent across all these different social media platforms, according to their demands and niche.

Assign a team to prepare the different content, graphics, slogans, stories, and videos to spread the word. Only then can you successfully channelize your efforts towards brand building.

2. Showcasing Brand Personality Through Graphics

Graphics go a long way into making a mark on the minds of the viewer than written content.

This is because the latter might not register or ring bells for every social media user, but the former will.

Ensure that powerful and well-thought-of graphics are able to spread your brand’s message.

3. Weave A Compelling Story

Come up with unique stories, videos, and data. Use statistics, use customer experiences, use surveys.

The aim is to create something fuelling for the customer to think about and head straight to your website after.

9.2 Work with Influencers

Work with Influencers

Influencers on social media do not have as wide a reach as celebrities, but their audience is much more specific. This can work to your benefit if their viewers overlap with your target audience.

Influencer marketing can really help you reaching out to people you have more scope of selling your products to, because their interests are ‘influenced’ from and aligned with that of the influencer.

It is quite easy to look for the best influencer for your E-Commerce platform through social media sites like Instagram and YouTube, or through tools like Google, Peg, or Reachbird. They are almost always open for collaborations, and reaching out to them works the trick.

9.3 Focus on Content Marketing

Crafting the Content for Campaign

Content marketing is one of the most defined ways to make your presence felt on the internet these days.

In fact, most of the successful E-Commerce ventures have already taken steps to ensure their content marketing game is on point. This includes blogs, infographics, and e-book launches.

It may sound surprising, but 92% of B2B marketers and 86% of B2C marketers use content marketing for brand awareness.

There are so many talented content writers available in the market these days that a simple introduction of your goals and quick browsing of your site is all they need to deliver exactly what you want for your brand’s promotion.

You can use blogs as one of the strongest mediums of information about your business, besides the creation of content like infographics, which can be easily shared on social media platforms.

There are also eBooks for those who love spending time online and want further insight into your work. The idea is to generate informative, brief, and interesting content.

9.4 Connecting with Print Media

Print marketing holds surprising power when it comes to E-Commerce, as opposed to the general notions of the two being contrasting.

The print is still relevant and right for your business for a number of reasons:

  • 1.It engages more senses when the customer is reading it, as opposed to content on social media, where customers are more likely to be paying less attention and multi-tasking.
  • 2.You can cater directly and specifically to your target audience; hence, your acceptance stands the test and works the magic.
  • 3.Print media is much more personable and appreciated than anything the social media covers.

What could all work? Well, beautifully crafted catalogs, circulars, appealing postcards, and journals are areas you could work on.

9.5 Make List of Email Subscribers

Email marketing strategy is another very important tool you cannot ignore when your business has launched, and you are looking to expand it.

With time, as more and more customers visit your website, an email marketing list can ensure they do not get bored with repetitive content and are also aware of anything new that is upon your website.

You can begin by providing sign up forms on your website either for some regular newsletter you are planning to share with them or for subscription to the latest updates about your store and products. The footer of the website is the most optimal location for the same.

Next, you could make use of popups, whether standard or incentive in form, for achieving higher conversion rates of people signing up for the email list.

Use a catchy line to make them feel like they have so much more in store with your email list subscription.

Start collecting email addresses from your customers as another resort to email list addition. You could do this at the time of checkout, for instance, or when they are adding products to their carts.

You could use strategies like providing offers or insights for more customer attraction and even retention.

Email marketing campaigns, when carried out regularly and creatively, can have positive impacts on your marketing and brand position.

Just ensure that you are well aware of the latest email marketing trends, and you are good to go.

Chapter 10: Measure the Storefront Performance

It is no fad that the most successful E-Commerce platforms these days are completely metrics obsessed.

Data and analytics must guide you if you want to see your venture doing well in the near future.

After all, there is a scope of improvement in only those areas where the performance can be monitored.

There should be three main goals in your mind when you are channelizing your thoughts towards E-Commerce metrics.

  • 1.Focus on KPIs (Key Performance Indicator) followed by measuring the corresponding metrics
  • 2.Having a sound analytics system to conduct accurate measurements of the above.
  • 3.Setting benchmarks for KPI lists for guidance.

Here are a few of the KPIs you could analyze to understand better your E-Commerce venture’s performance and help improve it with time.

  • Sales per Month – the total annual sale divided on a monthly basis.
  • Avg. Order Size – the number, value, and type of items being ordered by a customer in a single transaction
  • Conversion Rate – the number of items being purchased out of the total number of products being added to shopping carts.
  • Site Traffic – the number of visits, likes, hits, views your website gets.
  • Value per visit – total website revenue divided by total visits on the website
  • Traffic Source – the different sources customers have used to land on the website: social media, google search results, and so on.
  • Social Media Followers – their increase and role over time.
  • Customer Lifetime Value – an estimated amount of the total purchases a customer is likely to make with your venture over the period that they are associated with it.

Chapter 11: Implementing Upselling & Cross Selling

Implementing-Upselling-&-Cross-Selling

Both upselling and cross-selling have several benefits for any E-Commerce venture in these times.

Yet, there are several areas of concern, especially when it comes to savvy customers who felt their choices are being misguided by the options offered to them based on their originally chosen item.

This does not hinder; however, the role that these two approaches play in the success and increased sales of businesses, especially online stores.

Let’s try to understand the roles and benefits of both. This is something you will very commonly see on Amazon, the leading online E-Commerce store.

11.1 Understanding Upselling & Its Benefits

Essentially, upselling is one of the techniques employed by E-Commerce ventures, which aims at persuading the customer to buy a better, improved, and upgraded version of some product or service they have been looking for or have already purchased.

The goal is to increase the order value and the profits acquired while also not compromising the quality of the product offered to the customer.

The probability of successfully using upselling to a customer is around 60-70% if they have already purchased the original version earlier.

  • 1.Increased Customer Lifetime value
  • 2.Helps build better customer relationships
  • 3.Higher chances that the customer will revisit or purchase an upgrade again
  • 4.Increased profits and order value.

11.2 Understanding Cross-Selling & Its Benefits

Cross-selling is a technique used by E-Commerce websites to sell related or complementary products to customers who have either made a purchase on the website or are looking up some or the other.

An excellent strategy for achieving almost the same goals as upselling, cross-selling differs in the fact that it offers ideas to the customer about purchasing something that he might need in case of purchasing a particular product.

This has a fair chance of converting into a success, for customers usually do not prefer purchasing just a single item when they are shopping online.

Benefits of Cross-Selling

  • 1.Increase in sales revenue
  • 2.Improved customer satisfaction
  • 3.Increase in customer lifetime value
  • 4.Better customer relationships
  • 5.Great for both the customer and the retailer

Your information is safe with us. eSparkBiz guarantees 100% data security. We don’t use emails for spamming.






    By clicking Inquire Now, you accept eSparkBiz's Terms of Use and Privacy Policy and agree to your personal data collection and use.