Bricks and mortar businesses still represent a significant percentage of businesses worldwide, but for savvy entrepreneurs, an e-commerce website is an easy way to get a business off the ground with the minimum of start-up capital. So how can you turn your e-commerce business from a wistful daydream into a successful reality?
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Lots of people think running an e-commerce business means lying on a beach somewhere with a MacBook, sipping tequila and firing off emails. Sadly, the reality is somewhat different. Although you may be able to get away with working from a variety of different locations (subject to decent Wi-Fi), you will actually need to work as opposed to enjoying the local scenery.
Choose the Right E-Commerce Platform
Choosing the right e-commerce platform is vital. You need to have a platform you can work with, one that provides the right customer support and includes all the features you need to build a successful business. There are many e-commerce platforms to choose from, including Open Cart, Magento and WordPress to name but three. However, don’t rush and sign up for the first one you see. Instead, read reviews from the top hosting companies (such as this Bluehost review) and talk to other entrepreneurs to see what their recommendations are.
Build a Brand
The e-commerce world is highly competitive and unless you put 100% into building your brand, your business will not stand a chance. Without a recognizable brand, customers won’t automatically choose you over one of your competitors. To build a brand, create a distinctive logo and have a unique selling point, so customers choose you first.
Test Your Ideas
It is impossible to tell whether your ideas will work until give them a go, but it is foolish to invest in a business without testing your ideas first. To do this, conduct market research and find out whether there is a gap for your products or ideas. Talk to family and friends to see if they think you have a chance of making this work. If your ideas pass muster, create a test product or start marketing your services in a small way to test the market.
Selling products online is not easy but it can be done, as evidenced by the success of Amazon. However, whether you decide to market and sell your own products or stick to dropshipping, choosing the right profit margin is critical. Too low and you won’t make any money; too high and nobody will buy from you. It may take time to find the right margin, but stick with it and keep trying different products.
Just because you are selling online, it doesn’t mean you can ignore the principles of great customer service. Always provide a way for customers to get in touch – preferably more than one. This helps to build trust and allows you to sort out problems before they impact on your online reputation.
E-commerce has made it incredibly easy for entrepreneurs to get going with very little cash, but you need to treat your venture as a business or it will soon crash and burn in today’s competitive marketplace.