Online Shopping: Prepare Your eCommerce Store for Growth
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E-commerce and online shopping is the wave of the future for every company, not just companies that want to ship their goods from China to the U.S. That fact is why companies, like Toys R Us are going out of business and why drop shippers with Shopify stores and garage sale scouts are living the laptop lifestyle in Bali.
Online shopping is not just the latest fad. It's changing everything for businesses. It's why shopping malls are trying to keep traffic high, by adding more fine dining restaurants, arcades, fancy movie theaters. They know they have to reinvent themselves to stay alive.
Large companies looking to add an online component to their revenue stream are in the right place. If you're a person with an idea about selling a product online and living like a baller overseas, this is the article for you.
Whatever reason you want to start an eCommerce store is irrelevant. It's a good idea and to do so you need the tools to get you there.
Knowing if you're idea is a good one is far more important than setting up a website, creating an ad budget, or getting your business registered as a corporation. The experts will tell you that its easy to validate a product. It's not rocket science, but it's not a walk in the park either.
Look, anyone can start an online business with a few thousand dollars (maybe less) and a good idea. Without the idea, you'll waste vast sums of money, so don't say I didn't warn you.
Likewise, a good idea, without the funding, can move pretty slow. You can do it for free, but it will take longer, so save up and do it right the first time.
Validating an idea for your store
Large companies usually know - in advance - whether an idea is going to work and what they can expect for revenue before they start to construct the product. You can too, no matter what kind of budget you're doing, unless you're creating something that no one knows anything about.
If that is the case, you're very lucky and I wish you all the luck in the world. You can still benefit from the tips I'm going to give you in this article to read on.
Online validation should take place before you start your online shopping store. Every product you choose to sell should go through a process like this, so here it is...
These steps are a series of questions you need to find the answers to before you spend a dime. Get a notepad out and start writing.
Step 1: Market research
Understand the market you're targeting. What do they use already that is similar to your product or service? Are they hungry for the product you sell? How hungry? Find out where they hang out and what they do for fun. All these things will be useful for your branding, positioning, designs, copywriting, and more. The more you know the more you sell.
Step 2: Competitor research
You have to know what products are selling that are similar to yours. Study your competition continuously and find out what customers are saying about it. What they struggle with are going to be your victories. Study their ads, their websites, their presence on social media. What do they do well? Do they use video? Are they a blogger? SEO? etc.
Step 3: Measure your passion for the project
Why are you deciding to do this? Is it just a way to make some extra cash or do you have a great reason? Is there story behind it? Can you tell that story publicly? You should that all will help customers identify with you and make it easier to build a following. Your mission is everything. Just opening is an eCommerce store is fine, buy why not sell something besides a "widget." Sell something of value that people will cherish. If they cherish what you sell, they will remember who they got it from.
Step 4: Figure your budget for ads, writers, web designers, graphic designers, etc.
Your business has to look like a business. The more you decide to do it yourself the better your idea, products, and services to be. Businesses that sell what everybody else sells has to make up for their lack of uniqueness with A+ marketing and copywriting. This is why Toys R Us went under and companies like Kmart struggles to stay alive. Target just has better branding even though they pretty much sell the same things.
Identify who you are in your market
Are you a big fish trying to dominate a small pond? Are you a beginner trying to break into a competitive scene?
Don't believe the haters that say you can't do it. If there is a will there is a way, but like I stated above, if your idea stinks, you're going to be swimming upstream. Don't do that. It's much easier to get a notepad out and create ideas you can validate. It's also way cheaper.
Knowing who you are is the first step to creating a plan and your goals. If you're trying to break into an area that has been dominated by big companies for decades, you have to get over the myths of eCommerce, like you can never beat the big box companies. How will you use that against them? What are their vulnerabilities?
Big companies tend to move slower - which is great for a nimble lead startup looking to crush it with online shopping. Market where they don't and offer better customers service. You have to figure out how you win and they lose. You can only do that by knowing who you are and making it work for you.
What do you do after you've validated?
Take your product that you've validated. You've done all the steps above and you're ready to start creating your brand. What do you do first?
Make a website? Create your social profiles? What?
Establish your goals. Then find out what you're going to have to do to hit those goals.
Set a goal that is huge and then set up a series of goals that will get you to that huge goal. Every little step along the way should be designed to manufacture the win of getting that huge goal.
Maybe your goal is to turn a profit in your first year. Maybe it's to turn a profit this week. It doesn't matter. Hitting goals is a science of logic, and knowing that your product will sell takes a lot of the guessing away from it. That's why I stress the validation so much.
Website creation, branding, and copywriting
Yes, I'm skipping a step because if you're going to sell a product, you should know all about where to get it and the costs associated. This isn't a blog about sourcing products, this is about preparing yourself for success.
Websites that turn a profit are designed to turn a profit. Many websites, especially for big businesses are just designed to be a business card that nobody cares about. These companies miss out on a huge opportunity to turn a casual visitor into a ravenous buyer. Remember, even with a solid purpose and passion for your business, if you're not turning a good profit you might as well not do it.
The way you make your website work for you is by creating a brand that looks exactly the way your customers would expect, but better and more persuasive. This is the key to any online operation.
Look if your products sell themselves, then your copy is somewhat irrelevant, some would argue. I wouldn't but a good product is half the battle.
Here's an example of selling something that isn't needed ...
Everybody needs socks. Everybody doesn't need fancy socks with cool designs and waterproof material, right? Let's say you're the guy selling the fancy socks for a premium price on your website.
The objection is not that the product isn't good. The objection a customer might have is that they "don't have the money" or "it's a waste of money" or "I don't need something like that." How would you sell something like that?
You sell those fancy socks, not by telling people how awesome they are. You're telling people what they give you by wearing them. Maybe they give you a talking point at a holiday party. Maybe they make you feel warmer while sipping hot cocoa with your family. It could also be a way to bond with your family.
Are you seeing the commercials fly into your head? Fancy socks are not about quality. They are about the emotion they give you when you wear them. That's it, and that's what you sell. It's exactly how Ferrari sells their cars. They write to their audience and expect only affluent people to buy their products. This is why you need to know your audience.
For more information on building an online business, check out the rest of the Digital Cartel Media blog. If you're looking for something specific on building a business. Check out this article on the 4-step approach to building an online business in 2019.