The Ecommerce industry is becoming more and more demanding and sophisticated day by day. It is not enough to build an online store now and count on that customers will find us and buy products from us. Those times are over.
In order to acquire a customer and lead him to sell in our store, we need to take care of the entire range of issues. In this article, we write what you should focus on and how to approach E-commerce business to be successful in it.
Let’s start with the fact that the competition is not sleeping. As statista.com reports:
“In 2021, retail e-commerce sales amounted to approximately 4.9 trillion U.S. dollars worldwide. This figure is forecast to grow by 50 percent over the next four years, reaching about 7.4 trillion dollars by 2025.”Source: Statista.com
To take advantage of this market growth and not to be left behind with an empty store selling nothing, you need the right approach. It is important to focus on a few specific issues and treat them appropriately.
Below we list the most important subjects in your E-commerce store that you need to take care of, in order to increase your chances of success and be better at Ecommerce. Treat them as a roadmap.
1. Focus on Your Client’s needs, not on Yours
The biggest mistake of new entrepreneurs entering the E-commerce industry is the “I have to sell that” approach to the topic. Experience has shown me many times that the client’s needs and your perception of them are completely different.
Do the work and research the market before starting your Online Business. What’s more, even when you already have sales and the store is open for a long time, you should call your customers from time to time and ask them directly what they need. It may turn out that customer needs have changed along with the market change and you are stuck in the old belief.
Tip: Try to make 50 phone calls every few months to customers who bought the product from you. Believe me, this information can be very valuable. Just remember to call them by yourself. Don’t delegate this task to anyone.
2. Make an E-commerce strategy.
A huge percentage of new Ecommerce stores are being built WITHOUT ANY STRATEGY! It’s a nail in the coffin. Starting Your E-commerce business without any strategy is like going to the vast deep ocean with a ship, without a map, and with no destination. Sooner or later you will either crash into the rocks or you will run out of fuel (I mean money) and you will drown or starve to death.
Make any plan at the very beginning, before even building the website. Ask yourself what you want to achieve in a quarter of a year. Set yourself small, achievable goals that are realistic to achieve and start pursuing them. Often any strategy will save you time, money, and nerves.
Having set up a strategy, you can immediately see whether you are going. Towards your goal or backward. In addition, your employees will know what to do and what you will asses them for when it fails.
3. Remember of Pareto Rule in sales.
Sometimes when you think you need new products to be introduced to your store, it is worth taking a look at your Bestsellers before. Most often it turns out that a few products are responsible for the majority of the company’s income in accordance with the Pareto 20/80 principle, according to which 20% of products generate 80% of sales.
Once you have identified these products, it is very easy with small work (e.g. marketing, optimization of descriptions, photos or opening new channels) to increase all sales in the store.
TIP: Select 3-5 Best Selling Products in your store and take an in-depth look at them. Check if the descriptions, photos, or communication of these products can be improved. Check who are the people who buy this product. Perhaps you can list them on Marketplaces if you haven’t already. Or maybe there is a complementary product that people are eager to buy to these products?
4. Observe Market and React quickly.
Just as people change over time, so does the market. Nothing lasts forever and as time goes on, new players come to the market with new budgets and new ideas.
They make customers accustomed to new “better” solutions, and this may mean that modern implementations that you made 2 years ago on your website are not so modern anymore. Missing these changes can cost you a lot.
If you are just entering the market, you have the advantage, that you can choose the technology you want to use and the solutions you want to offer to your customers. You have to build a website from scratch anyway, so do it as best as You can, according to the latest trends in the market.
If you’ve been in the market for a while and have noticed a drop in sales, it may be due to modern competition that offers faster shipping, a better user experience on the site, or some other, newer form of communication. Watch it all and react quickly.
5. Always Be 2 steps ahead of Your Competition.
Here I will refer to the previous point a little bit.
It is worth considering using social media that competitors do not use. Usually, those who are the first to use new media to achieve their business goals, e.g. TikTok or Instagram have easy job. Yes, these are unpaved routes, but the competition there is less than, for example, on Facebook or YouTube.
Get rid of the thinking that if no competition does it, it surely doesn’t work, and start selling in an unconventional way. You can also implement new payment methods that the competition does not yet have, e.g. cryptocurrency payments, or deferred payments.
It is also worth considering how your customers can get goods from your store faster than from the competition.
Take a look at what the competition is doing and what is not doing and don’t be afraid of trying new things. Experiment and stick with what works for You best.
6. Choose Experience Employees and Agencies.
If you do not have experience in Ecommerce then you probably need to hire someone who does have. In this case, bet on experienced people or trusted agencies with many years of experience in this market.
There is nothing more helpful than someone else’s experience. Sometimes one employee who participated in the development of another business in the past, can benefit your company more than a few inexperienced but eager to work.
An experienced employee will save your business from unnecessary expenses and tests. He will notice when you are going in the wrong direction and help establish a company’s strategy, which is always worth consulting with such employees and seeing what they have to say on this topic.
TIP: It’s hard to find an ambitious person with useful experience in the E-commerce industry on the labor market because they all are already employed somewhere. However, if you manage to establish cooperation with such an employee, remember to reward him fairly adequately to his experience. Consider also paying him/her based on your company’s turnover.
7. Don’t burn the budget.
Remember if you don’t know what to do with money, the E-commerce market will help you burn it. Nowhere is so easy to waste Your money as on the Internet. The sky is the limit. Believe me, there are agencies that will take as much money from you as you give them and will not even mention testing something first.
You should plan your investments based on the store’s development strategy. Remember that your marketing, development, and product departments have specific budgets that will be reasonably allocated.
TIP: If you are testing a new marketing solution, don’t invest a lot of money just because someone told you it works. What works for one business does not have to be for another. It is better to make a test campaign on small budgets and if it works, gradually increase the budget. This will save you from wasting money on wrong ad campaigns.
8. Think about SEO in everything You do.
This is the core of Ecommerce business development. If you do not know what SEO means and you are building a store, stop doing everything and read the SEO lectures. It is impossible for you to not know at least the basics of SEO and start an online business successfully.
Even if you have a in-store development employee, you should know what to charge him for, and be able to understand his movements. In this way, you will be able to make the right decisions in the development of the store together.
There is nothing worse than an experienced Ecommerce Manager who is blocked by the boss’s ignorance. If, on the other hand, you are an Ecommerce Manager, the issue is simpler. SEO is the basis of every website decision. You should apply its rules when You:
- invent or optimize the name of the product
- write a product description
- insert product or brand photos on the website.
- come up with the category structure on your website
- create content on the website and your fanpage
- come up with advertising content
- create content on YouTube or Instagram
9. Wisely choose agencies.
That’s a big one. I have tested many agencies. It would seem that a marketing agency or software house is a “Guru Creation” with a baggage of experience and a ready recipe for the success of your Ecommerce. Nothing could be further from the truth!
With such a rapidly growing market, agencies are popping up like mushrooms after the rain. And specialists do not grow on trees. Most often it is a group of people who have done several projects with greater or lesser success, and who want to take advantage of the huge demand for agencies and earn money on it. This is normal and no wonder.
And here is your task: It’s up to you to find an agency whose help will be really useful to you.
TIP: Check the agency’s competencies by calling the business owners of the companies they cooperated with and asking them how they cooperated with the agency. You will often hear interesting things.
If I had to point out the first thing to pay attention to when choosing an agency, it’s… COMMUNICATION. Yes, this is what makes a collaboration fruitful.
If the agency often contacts you by itself to improve or optimize something and efficiently replies to your e-mails, that’s good. Also, if it reacts quickly to good and bad things that are happening in your business, it means that they are interested in the success of your business and not your money.
Even if in this case you came across an agency without experience or skills, you will be able to quickly verify it and react by changing the strategy or ultimately the agency itself.
10. Always think mobile first.
For several years now, the importance of mobile has been on top of speeches in the eCommerce industry. Now, it is the moment when I cannot imagine a well-functioning store without being mobile-friendly. Well, maybe apart from extreme exceptions in specific industries in which only one company has a product and customers have no choice because they have to buy the product somewhere.
In 2022, depending on the industry, purchases in ecommerce stores via mobile phones account for 50-90 percent of all sales. We should not be surprised then that the newly built stores are mobile-ready at first, and only when they are perfect on mobile they are being designed for the PCs in mind.
This approach is still innovative for some people, but it is a trend that will only gain momentum. If you take advantage of this, you still have a chance to be ahead of the competition. Just remember that all new functionalities in your store should work quickly and efficiently on phones and tablets.
11. Automate and optimize processes.
Throughout the entire Ecommerce sales process, there are many repetitive or monotonous processes that must be performed in order to bring success. You can automate many of them using the right tools.
There are mailing campaigns, recovering lost carts, listing products, and customer service processes such as invoicing or returns service to be automated easily. You can also automate packaging processes such as printing labels, notifying customers about posting packages, as well as notifying courier companies or ordering products from manufacturers. Literally everything.
Some of these automations will save you time and money, for example by reducing the number of employees needed Use these automations wisely, but don’t forget to optimize them.
Watch what works for you and check from time to time what you can change to make it work even faster or more effectively. Over time, you will push your results to high levels.
12. Measure and analyze everything You can.
Collecting data from the store is one of the key things driving the success of your business. It is known that there is a lot to do at the beginning in setting up a store. At this point, everyone is focusing on new product launches, advertising, and onboarding employees.
However, I want to point out that for your own good, you should install at least basic data collecting tools, such as Google Analytics, right from the start. This is crucial! and Really… do it.
At the moment, you may think that this data is scarce and there is nothing to collect yet, but believe me, when you need this data, it will be too late for implementation. The point is, the longer the time of running Your Online Store, the more valuable data you will collect and you will get a picture of what works and what doesn’t.
Most Important Data to Collect:
- Number of unique website visitors
- Bounce rate / engagement rate
- Conversion rate
- Advertising Expences
- Implementation expenses.
- The position of your product and content pages in the SERP
- The main KPIs of the company, such as sales margin, company turnover, and speed of service
- Employee performance
- Visitor behavior on the site
- Buyers satisfaction
- Number of abandoned carts
- Number of subscriptions to the newsletter
Correct collection of this data at the right moment will decide the correctness of your decision about future investments or activities in the company. This can often save you from huge losses due to missed investments or from an incorrectly set business strategy.
TIP: Make sure you are collecting data correctly. It often turns out over time that, for example, the conversion rates measured by 3 different sources are completely different in each of them. Such mistakes lead to losses and wandering in the dark.
13. Constantly develop Your Ecommerce skills.
The growing interest in the E-commerce market means that in order to keep up with the changing trends, we must constantly increase our competencies. Business solutions that were OK 2 years ago may already be outdated and work in the mid-range.
In the meantime, new ways of reaching customers, and new ways of communicating with them, such as new social platforms may have emerged.
An example can be Live Sales, which until recently nobody wanted to do. It is enough for the public to hear data that a large part of Chinese E-commerce Stores successfully use Live Sales, and the eyes of Western markets immediately turned in this direction.
TIP: Listen to industry podcasts regularly, Subscribe to newsletters or read Ecommerce blogs such as ours so that you don’t miss a new trend that has appeared on the market.
Test the acquired knowledge in a live store and scale working solutions. Thanks to this, you will be more experienced and therefore it will be easier for You to make key decisions for the company.
14. Think twice before You pay for a website.
The topic of payment for the site design and implementation is quite extensive. We do not mean whether you should pay for the service provided, but rather that before signing a contract with Software House or a freelance web designer who will create your website, think twice if it is what you need.
FIRST OF ALL
Make sure that your future online Shop at the time of publication will meet all modern standards, such as Google Essentials, or UX standards.
TIP: It’s a good idea to make sure that as many positions from the Ecommerce Good Practices Checklist as possible are met. You can find Our Checklist of Good Ecommerce Practices Here
Double check if the contract allows you to make later changes and whether the Ecomerce platform will allow you to do so. There is nothing worse and more costly than looking for half-measures to get the tasks done that your platform could do.
Make sure you work with the best.
Check out all your contractor’s previous projects. Call the shop owners that the agency or freelancer made the shop for and ask them how they cooperated. Do in-depth research because your business depends on this cooperation.
Avoid unrealistic promotions among offers.
We can often find offers on the market like: “$499 online store”. Run away from such bargains as far as possible! Maybe you will get something for this price, but it will definitely not be what you need in your Ecommerce Business.
A well-built store should cost money. It is supposed to contain modern functionalities tailored exactly to your business. And it costs someone else’s work. Of course, you can use “Free” SaaS platforms and pay a subscription for them. This type of platform, i.e. Software as a Service, is a complex topic and is suitable for a separate article.
15. Be open to partnerships.
Approaching the market and E-commerce business as a fight against all competitors can be short-sighted. It is worth considering whether it will pay off to establish cooperation with some other store, e.g. with one that has supplement products for our products, and which we ourselves do not want or cannot sell.
A popular type of cooperation is also cooperation with Influencers. This solution gives us the opportunity to promote our own brand and our store among a group of people with known interests. After all, a given Influencer brings together people interested in the same topic.
Regarding influencers, choose them carefully and not only follow the number of likes. Oftentimes, smaller influencers can give us many more opportunities and benefits. A very nice solution is also cooperation with Youtubers who are able to recommend a product or simply review it.
The more you establish contacts with others and start cooperation, the more your brand and the store are recognizable. You open up new opportunities and there is a greater chance that you will be the first to notice a new trend in the market.
16. Find out what media platform suits You
Just as every person is different, every business also differs. Not every store will fit to all sales channels, or media in which you want to advertise.
For example for me, it may be most convenient to communicate with my clients on Instagram or YouTube, while You will prefer to do it via Tik Tok or Podcasts. It’s normal. Knowing that, find the best media platform for Your niche.
TIP: If you want to start using social media to communicate with your customers, but you don’t know which one, do this: Set aside a different platform each week of the month. 1st week publish and comunicate on Facebook, the Second week on YouTube, 3rd on Instagram and 4th on Tik Tok, podcast or other convenient solution. Repeat this cycle. Soon you will see what is starting to work and what is not, and then focus on the best medium.
If your personality or the Store’s promotion strategy resonates with a given medium, then it will be much easier and more pleasant for you to release new current entries, posts or videos. Also if People see that You are natural and real then they will buy from You more frequently.
17. Prioritize UX on your online shop
We live in the era of Amazon, Ebay, Aliexpress etc. Generally Big Marketplaces. They get people used to certain behaviors or solutions. When implementing your own Online Store, you must remember that the customer will wonder why he should buy from Your Online Store that may not be known to him, instead of on a Super safe and fast Amazon / Ebay
Track solutions for payments methods, user facilitation, Checkout process, and Sales funnels of Large Marketplaces. After all, there is an enormous team of people working on User Experience (UX) with huge budgets for tests. Something that works for them has probably been selected from a thousand other ideas. Therefore, sometimes it is worth considering whether it is worth re-designing a wheel, or just look how others do it.
18. Think outside the box.
You can often come across a situation where everyone in a given industry repeats a given sales pattern. No one knows why but this situation lasts a long time until someone with new ideas enters the business.
Break that mind wall and think about what you can do differently. Perhaps your products may be sold with some type of ancillary service. Or maybe you should do reviews of your products on YouTube? There are so many ways to do it.
Think about the following questions that might help you come up with an idea:
- How can you deliver the products to the customers in a different way than the competition. ?
- What can you offer in addition to the products?
- What additional services can you provide to clients?
- How can you communicate with the market in a new way?
- What doesn’t everyone in the competition want to do? Maybe you are able to do it?
- What your competitors don’t know about your customers?
19. Write Content and Really lots of it.
Content is the King as they say. And they are absolutely right! It is through content, that you communicate to people if you have something for sale and it is through content that you tell them why they should buy something from you and not from the competition.
Apart from the form of product communication, Content has another function. It is needed to educate people in your product category. Because there are a lot of people who are interested in your industry, but do not know if they want to buy something or if they need anything at all. Sometimes they need to be persuaded or pushed to be aware of this.
That is why you should invest in Content on your website from the very beginning. If you do it wisely and write in accordance with SEO principles, you can expect that it is content that will take over some responsibility for some, if not all, sales in your store over time.
Ecommerce beginners often neglect content and think that they will only go on paid ads. Anyone who understands that returns on content investments (which are initially nonexistent and only take off over time), are likely to be dealing cards in their own industry.
TIP: Post Content regularly throughout the year. Articles will start to drive traffic to your site after about 4-7 months. If you’ve been writing continuously, your traffic should only grow.
20. Always look for Brand opportunities.
“Nothing builds the foundations of Ecommerce as much as a strong brand on which it stands.”Jakub Szulc
If you don’t have any product of your own production yet, you will likely see opportunities for such moves over time. The More You sell other manufacturers’ products, the more you see what is worth to produce, from whom it is profitable to buy parts and what companies does worse, slower or more expensive production than you could do by yourself.
And here comes an opportunity to create your own Brand.
As the sale of products on Your Shop provides you with data on market demand and customer preferences, You can introduce your better and Newer products to the customers, and make people search for your Brand in the market. Of course, I will leave the topic of building a new Brand for another article and it is an interesting one.
When your brand is at least a bit recognizable, a few things happen:
You will have a second source of income from selling only your Brand’s products. You can sell them to Distributors, Stores, and even your Ecommerce Competitors. Such cooperation with competitors is not something strange and I personally observed how it worked successfully in our company.
Lots of People start looking for products by Your Brand name rather than the product name. This causes increased traffic to your website from phrases containing just the brand name. Google sees that people are looking for this particular company and starts granting you a bigger DA – Domain Authority. Furthermore if a lot of people are looking for something, it must be good.
This means that the overall position of your store on other product phrases also grows, which in turn translates into even greater sales.
You are protecting your business by diversification. In case of any problems with the store, you still have your brand. You can also sell such a Brand in order to raise money, or develop it in a completely different direction than your Online Store.
TIP: Be sure to register your Brand as a registered trademark. You don’t want to have problems later on with proving to someone that you first came up with the name and not Him.
21. Be Patient and Consistent.
Sometimes you just have to wait. Chances are you’ve done everything right. Your team is working on marketing and products, paid ads are spinning around, new products are still being added, content is still being written and … you can’t see some astonishing results.
Be patient. Some activities, such as google ads or Facebook ads campaigns, work right away, but a large part of the activities takes time, and being consistent and patient is the key. An example is traffic from articles where google crawlers just need to find and index your pages. Over time, other portals will also start linking to you. It needs time.
Just as you don’t build your home in one day, you don’t rock the Ecommerce Store in a week. If you take the approach of a stubborn mule who pushes forward step by step – slowly but steadily. Then you will finally reach your destination. I hope You will.
What skills do You need to be successful at E-commerce ?
In the Ecommerce industry, you will have to use many skills at the same time. Businesses that thrive and do well in the world of E-commerce are usually run by an effective Ecommerce manager.
Read the article: What skills do you need for eCommerce business? in which we write about how to be effective on the E-commerce market as a E-commerce Manager.