Starting an e-commerce business is something that our grandparents couldn’t have dreamt up. As little as a generation or two ago, e-commerce didn’t exist. The rule book is still being written.
Selling in an online environment comes with many challenges that we’re all learning to overcome. That’s why we’re going to cover some basic e-commerce start-up tips, to help give you the inside track.
Online payment options
We’re going to start with something so obvious that you may think it goes without saying. But people can get ahead of themselves. So, let’s start at square one. You need a way to take payment online (see online payment gateway for small businesses for more information).
All too often, entrepreneurs of all ambition levels get to the stage of completing their website without taking the necessary steps to ensure that customers can pay securely online. Sure, the website design takes time, the look and feel of your product pages are aspects you took slowly to get right, and composing the content may have eaten into your evenings and weekends. But as CEO of your venture, there is no-one else to pick up after you. You have to think of everything – and do everything – because no-one else will.
Ensure that your online presence comes complete with a secure way for customers to pay for your goods and services or expect your traffic to bounce over to a competitor. The choice is yours. Early impressions are hard to change once you’ve set out your stall as a trader who doesn’t offer the same reasonable ways to pay as the other big players in the market. Much easier to start as you mean to go on than convince customers who left to come back.
Launch when you are ready (and not before)
What does launch when you’re really mean? Are you going to get into the world of trading and understand things at the stocks and shares level? Are you going to plan to launch when the bull market or bear market suits your enterprise? Probably not. At least, not at this early stage. Your considerations should instead focus on the economy and the season. Launching during a recession isn’t necessarily always going to mean you won’t succeed, but choosing to launch your bikini line during peak summer trading months while the market is strong just makes sense.
Make sure you are ready to focus on business operations when you launch, rather than looking over your shoulder at business set up. That may sound obvious, but if you aren’t quite ready to start taking orders you will only find that adding customers into the mix will create more problems. Avoid the 20+ hour days by launching only when the business is ready to stand up for itself.
Focus on the user (ask for feedback)
The customer knows what the customer wants. The market is plain to read, both for buyers and vendors. Focus on trends and demand. Don’t try to force your opinions on the customer in terms of selling things that no-one wants to buy. Ask for feedback wherever possible. Feedback is the direct link to the expectations that customers bring with them having sampled your competitors. Stay relevant to your base.