Ecommerce as an industry is still growing strong. In the past month alone, a whopping 80 percent of Americans shopped online. More importantly, the millennial and the post-millennial population spend close to six hours each week shopping online. This presents an exciting opportunity for hustlers to get in and find success in this industry that is often considered to be oversaturated.
Find your industry fit
Marketing plays a pivotal role in determining the success of your eCommerce website. Unless you know the industry well, it may be difficult to identify the right platform and marketing message that you should be deploying for your target audience. The first step in your hustle towards eCommerce entrepreneurship is to find an industry that you either know very well, or have already invested in. For instance, if you already own a fashion blog, then you should be looking into launching a fashion store. Besides the fact that you are knowledgeable in this industry, it also helps that you could leverage the popularity of your blog to drive customers to your store.
Buy a semi-established store
Launching a new eCommerce store from the ground up can take up a lot of time and resources. It is a better idea to buy an online store that is already up and running. The success and revenues that an eCommerce store generates should however not be the sole criterion for purchase. A successful store that is already well-established may not have the scope for expansion or growth in future. A semi-established store, on the other hand, may already have a bunch of loyal customers but may have not completely capitalized on marketing. Such a store may not yet have taken advantage of social media or content marketing. This provides an opportunity for a hustler to buy low and maximize returns through marketing. You could check out marketplaces like Shopify’s Exchange to browse eCommerce stores that fit your criteria.
Revamp your marketing
As noted earlier in this article, marketing is everything when it comes to eCommerce. In the absence of a favorite store, customers tend to slip back to purchasing from a store that offers the wares they need at the lowest price. The objective of your marketing campaign should thus focus on building a relationship and a brand that customers feel happy about. It is a good idea to take the focus of your marketing campaign away from price and focus on other factors like convenience, trustworthiness, credibility, product features or customer support. These factors help establish a brand that your customers would come back to even it is not the cheapest on the market.
Renegotiate supplier agreements
There are two ways to maximize profits – by raising prices and by reducing cost of goods. Marketing and branding campaigns can help with increasing your volume without having to resort to a price war. The next step in the hustling process is renegotiating supplier agreements so that you can buy your products at a cheaper price. This needs to be a process that is performed on a routine basis so that you are paying fair market value.
Focus on support
The most sustainable customer acquisition strategy is word of mouth marketing. But for that to happen, your customer support needs to be top notch. If you do not operate your own support lines, hire a VA who is located in the same country as your primary customers. This should be done for two reasons. Firstly, customers want to feel assured that they are in safe hands and nothing establishes this better than having a representative talk to them from the same state or country that your customers comes from. Secondly, customers also feel that a local company can understand their needs better than a foreign entity.
The objective of your customer support should be to wow your customers. Implement easy return and refund policies that are completely transparent. This makes your customers return to your site for future purchases and the ROI from such initiatives more than pay back the expenses incurred in deploying such a return policy in the first place.
An eCommerce store with terrific customer service will inevitably get plenty of word of mouth. Combine this with your in-house social media campaigns to set up a system that will bring a recurrent stream of new customers referred by friends and family.
One thing that separates successful hustlers from failed entrepreneurs is the former’s obsession with data. Track everything that is related to your eCommerce store. Besides the obvious metrics offered on Google Analytics, an online store owner must also look into other metrics that drive conversion. Session recording tools help business owners understand the really minor frustrations (like a button that a visitor doesn’t immediately notice or a dropdown that the user finds difficult to scroll down to) that cause a drop in conversions. A/B testing tools help the marketer understand what is driving your metrics up or down. By aggregating data from a multitude of sources, it is possible to understand the customers’ psyche that can help you with devising features and policies that can drive conversions up.
Strategize – Execute – Track – Repeat
Growing your eCommerce store from nothing to thousands or even millions of dollars in revenue is a continuous process. It is important to execute the strategies regardless of how complex they are. At the same time, track how your strategies move the needles on each of your metrics and do not think twice about dumping your new feature if it does not grow your business in the right direction.
This guest post is courtesy of Anand Srinivasan. He is a marketing consultant and the founder of Hubbion, a free to use task management tool for startups and small businesses. He has been published on Entrepreneur, TheNextWeb, Business.com and a host of other startup focused blogs and websites.