eCommerce has witnessed tremendous growth in the past few years. Enough growth to attract a slew of entrepreneurs all jumping onto the bandwagon in search of fame and fortune. Starting an eCommerce business can be fast and relatively easy and cheap.
But with 90% of new ecommerce business failing as quickly as in the first 120 days, surviving is one of the first major challenges for an eCommerce startup. And turning into a profitable venture is the ultimate challenge.
Any eCommerce business takes a long time to grow, and it’s not reasonable to expect fast results, especially when the competition is so severe. It took more than 15 years for Jack Ma’s Alibaba.com to become a public company and it had many ups and downs along its journey. It’s definitely not a fantasy world where everything goes as planned.
There are hundreds and thousands of eCommerce stores around the web, and only a few could actually make it big. The first phase of getting started is rather significant and an indicator of how the business will perform in future.
To make sure you are putting your best foot forward, ask yourself these 6 questions before launching your eCommerce venture.
1. Who will do web design & development?
Most certainly, a web store is not just a domain name and a few pictures. Just like our conventional shopping centers, your website needs to be aesthetic and well- furnished. Although the definitions of the terms differ, the essence remains the same. Ask yourself how you are going to get your website designed. If you can shell out a lot of money for this, you can get services from a web designing company.
You can also hire a web-developer but don’t trust him with all your company details and take a good hold of the administration yourself. ‘Can I design it myself?’ Yes, you can do it yourself by using tools like Shopify and Zen Commerce which lets you design your online store yourself without much IT knowledge as a prerequisite.
2. Should I go for SEO, SMM, or SEM?
When you are taking professional help with zero knowledge about the subject, there are high chances of being misled. Online customers do not come out of nowhere. Digital marketing is a necessity but you should keep yourself updated before trusting any of your digital marketing agencies’ plans and executions. Refer to some professional guides and tutorials to understand how SEO, SMM, and SEM work and which one suits best for your business and the kind of products you sell.
3. How will I manage product deliveries?
Logistics is the backbone of any eCommerce business. An online transaction is complete only when the physical product reaches the customer in its best condition. You need to question yourself if you want to tie up with an inexpensive shipping partner or the one who provides seamless services at modest costs. If you choose services over cost, you can go for companies like FedEx and Blue Dart who charge some extra bucks but it’s worth the investment. You also need to think about assuring customers about the date and time of your product deliveries. You can do this by installing something like a product delivery data scheduler, that allows your customers to choose their own delivery date and time.
4. What products will I sell?
What will your business be about? Be very clear on what you are going to sell. Yes, the competition is cut-throat but what can be more harmful is wrong product selection. Don’t try to sell everything at once, trust us; it’s not easy and more importantly, not worth it. Try to adopt product rationalization by focusing on products that can bring in more revenues to your business. Start with a very limited selection of products which you are confident of being able to sell fast. Once you have got a foothold in the market you can expand your product line as your business grows.
5. From where will I source the products?
When you know what to sell, plunge into all the researching prior to the stocking of products. Make sure you are getting most competitive prices for the products so as to keep a profitable margin. Browse through market trends and choose products that are in demand. Don’t copy exact items that are selling fast on other sites, observe trends and come up with unique products that your customers will like and buy. Source the right products at the right prices is only half the battle. You also need a smooth order management system to ensure you source your products at the right time and never run out of stock.
6. How will I handle Customer Issues and other problems?
Your store is online. You can’t ship the same item that has been photographed. Therefore, variations are bound to occur. Not all customers understand this and might create an issue over slight variations from the pictures. Sometimes, you won’t even reach the point of issue solving as they will deny accepting the package at the first place. (Yes, without any tolerable reason.) Prepare how you are going to handle all this without causing any harm to your businesses’ revenue sheets.
eCommerce is growing but most certainly there’s no shortcut to success just like in any human endeavour. You need patience along with efforts and approach to excel in the field. You just don’t bake the cake and it’s done. You will have to put in all the right ingredients and showcase it in the most delightful manner. A half baked cake, or an improper frosting, can spoil it all!
Maulik Shah is the founder & CEO of Biztech IT Consultancy Pvt Ltd., one of the leading web design and Development Companies in India. He also runs Biztech Blog, where he shares insights from the world of ecommerce and other web based technologies. Find out more about Biztech IT on LinkedIn or Facebook.