Creating a successful e-commerce business is not as easy as many people think. While the Internet does give small businesses a platform to share their goods and services with the world, it also forces them to compete with some of the largest companies to have ever existed. This is why it is so important for e-commerce business owners to have a comprehensive plan in place that will allow them to compete with the big boys.
Don’t Forget to Research Your Competition
The first thing every entrepreneur should do is research their competition and the state of the industry as a whole. This step is even more important for e-commerce businesses as they could be competing with other companies they have never even heard of. When doing this research, it is just as important to listen to the customers as look at the hard numbers. The complaints customers are making about larger companies could help you find the edge you need to start making sales.
Once You Have Found Your Niche, Master It
After doing a good amount of research, it is then time to start thinking about how you are going to make your goods or services stand out. Unfortunately, hard work will not always be enough if someone else is making the same product as you and selling it at a lower price. Unless you have a completely new product or service that has never been seen before, you will either need to focus on quality or price. Great customer service is an excellent way to show the world you are not a faceless corporation, but smaller e-commerce businesses almost always need to have a better or more affordable product than their competition.
Skip the Paid Advertising
The basic concepts of online advertising are very similar to traditional advertising mediums. Companies can either pay for the top advertising spots or work on person-to-person marketing. Paid marketing campaigns may become necessary in the future, but smaller business owners should focus on their free options. This begins with active social media accounts on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. You should also begin exploring some of the niche communities that can be found all over the Internet. Websites such as Reddit often have massive followings for practically every product, service, and industry imaginable. When you do become active on these sites, you should treat all of your interactions as if you were having a discussion with friends instead of making a sales pitch. Many of these communities can see right through disingenuous banter.
Create a World-Class Website
Maintaining a beautiful and responsive website should be at the top of your list, but quite a few business owners tend to let their sites fall into shambles. Not only do you need to continue publishing fresh and relevant content on your website to improve your search engine rankings, but you will also want to portray your company as an industry leader. Every few weeks, you or your advertising team should go through all of your site’s pages on as many different devices as possible. If any of the pages are difficult to read or look shoddy, then it is time to make some big changes. You must also keep an eye on any major search engine changes that could potentially affect your site’s visibility.
Personally Connect With as Many Customers as Possible
Forging personal relationships with customers is a lost art for many larger businesses. One of the reasons for this is because they know the customers will most likely come back for those same products and services. Smaller businesses, on the other hand, have fewer opportunities to prove themselves to their customers. Even small gestures like writing a quick email to someone who has recently placed a large order can make quite a difference in the long run. When customer complaints eventually come up, they should never be swept under the rug.
Anyone who has ever started down the path of creating an e-commerce site knows just how daunting it can be. Luckily, a little planning and perseverance will allow you to compete with some of the biggest companies in the world while staying true to the core beliefs of your business.
Jessica Kane is a professional blogger who has worked in eCommerce for the last five years. She currently writes for Rakuten Super Logistics and recommends them for all your order fulfillment needs now available at many fulfillment centers.
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