by Alek Sabin
Starting an e-commerce store is an appealing prospect for many first-time entrepreneurs. The endless marketplace of the internet and countless avenues to bring products and services to customers makes e-commerce an enticing business opportunity. However, there are plenty of new online stores that fail every year, because their business plan isn’t properly thought out. Here are some tips that you should consider if you really want to put your best foot forward on your first e-commerce store…
Find a product people actually want
The number one most important thing to start any online store (or any store at all, really) is to find a product that people actually want. This may sound like common sense, but there are far too many would-be entrepreneurs who overthink the aspects of actually running a store before figuring out how to make their store appealing to real people. Take a look at some successful online stores you admire and notice how they find a need, and then proceed to fulfill that need.
This doesn’t even have to be complicated. Sometimes, taking an existing product that people have use for and simply branding it to adorn it with a design or concept that appeals to a more niche audience will be enough to bring people to your site.
Put the work in for an excellent website
Obviously, an e-commerce store needs a website; an online base for people to come to. That’s what puts the “e” in e-commerce. This is a step that you don’t want to do half-heartedly. An excellent website that is easy to use and navigate, and that draws people further into a predesigned sales funnel, is an essential component for any e-commerce store. Don’t hesitate to designate some of your resources into a well-built and well-designed site, or you’ll never be able to drive the amount of traffic that you’ll need to generate revenue.
To dropship or not to dropship?
It’s important to note that there are two main different ways that you can run your online store. The first is to use dropshipping, where the customer places an order through your store, and then you submit the order to a wholesaler, who then ships it to the customer. Essentially, you’d just be a middle-man. This is a highly convenient way to run an e-commerce store, because you don’t need to worry about a location.
However, dropshipping-based shops tend to have a lower ceiling, and your inability to control your own inventory puts you at the whims of your wholesalers. Alternatively, you can manage your own inventory and sell directly to the customer. This gives you more control over customer satisfaction and yields higher profit margins. However, doing this means you need to worry about space to keep all of that inventory and manage shipping.
For this reason, you need to plan out a location for your business operation. In the beginning, your home should do just fine for this endeavor. However, as you grow, you’ll eventually need to move into a larger space. One great option to consider before getting a giant warehouse is to find a storage unit with good security.
Customer satisfaction is everything
Nothing kills an online business faster than poor customer satisfaction. Reviews are such a crucial aspect of how consumers interact with companies, nowadays, and most search engines will display what your customers think of your store. For this reason, you need to make sure that you are taking every possible step to please your customers.
This means responding to all customer inquiries within the same day, at least, and preferably in the same hour. In addition, making sure that a package is shipped and arrives within the predetermined time is essential for preventing negative reviews, as well as getting positive ones.