I will present you with the basics of e-commerce.
For dummies, this is going to be an extremely dialed-down discussion on the absolute basics of e-commerce.
E-commerce stands for electronic commerce. It is is selling a product or a service online. E-commerce has expanded exponentially in recent years and will only continue to do so. And the more it continues the more it will continue.
Small and medium-sized businesses all the way through to large corporations and even independent freelancers have benefited from e-commerce. Their products and services are now so easy to discover and purchase at any hour of any day from almost anywhere in the world.
The possibility to scale in this day and age is like no other. E-commerce is the fastest-growing retail market.
So why wouldn’t you want to be a part of that?
There are loads of benefits to hopping on the e-commerce bandwagon.
With e-commerce being electronic you have a global market this multiplies your target audience exponentially.
You’ll also choose who your customers are and define how to target them. With your store being online you’re essentially open 24/7 365 days a year, there’s no need to flip that sign on your front door that states open on one side and closed on the other.
Customers can purchase your goods all day and night. You also have the ability to work from anywhere in the world provided that you have an internet connection.
You’re also going to require a lower investment compared to a physical store.
So who can open an e-commerce store?
Anyone really, provided that they have the few essentials to get started. These essentials include a product or service to sell, a place to sell (website), means to process payments, and a marketing strategy to attract customers.
Let’s discuss each of these a little further.
So right off the bat, you’re going to need a product or service to sell. You can either make something yourself or you can source it from somewhere else.
Some things you want to keep in mind are who you want to sell your product or service to. Are these other consumers or are these other businesses?
You also want something unique. You don’t want to sell something that every other Tom, Dick, and Harry is selling.
What’s the point?
This means more competition and fewer chances of sales.
Also, try and think of a product or a service that solves someone’s problem. No one likes having problems. So, if you have something that can solve enough people’s problems, you’re a winner.
Finally the cost of your goods and your selling price.
You want to price your products at a low enough rate that you remain competitive with similar products on the market. However, you don’t want to price yourself too low that you don’t make a sufficient profit to keep operating. On the other hand, you don’t want to price yourself too high, otherwise, no one will purchase your products. And you don’t want that.
Next, you’ll need to figure out where you will be selling your goods.
The nature of e-commerce is selling online so you’re not going to be looking for a brick-and-mortar location or physical storefront. You’ll need a website or an e-commerce platform to sell your products. You can either build your own website or use a CMS content management system such as the Kibo Eclipse store. A CMS provides the basic framework for your website and allows you to add and edit your products, accept payments, and manage your online store.
Some other examples of these include Shopify, Magento, and big commerce, just to name a few.
Beginners generally start here, versus building their own website.
Factors to keep in mind when choosing your CMS platform are pricing, scalability, flexibility, and ease of use.
Keep in mind that your website or CMS platform is acting as your physical shop. This is where people come to interact with you and purchase your goods. This is where you influence them. This is where you impact how likely they are to convert from a visitor to customer, and hopefully a returning client.
So, the decision of where you will be selling your goods is one of the most important ones that you will make. Choose wisely.
The next thing to think about is how you’ll be transacting with customers.
This is a really important decision. Your payment provider is someone that needs to be credible and trustworthy because after all there are the ones handling your income.
Important points to keep in mind here are compatibility with your e-commerce platform, availability in the countries that your business is targeting, the ability to accept payments in different currencies, the fees charged reliability, reporting, usability, and customer support.
Some payment processes that I highly recommend are Stripe and PayPal.
Lastly, you’ll need a good marketing strategy to attract your customers.
Let’s face it, if you don’t attract customers to your online store, you aren’t going to make sales. It’s not like having a physical storefront where people may just stumble upon you. You have to bring
your customers to your online store. This area will need a good amount of work if you’re going to be successful. It’s also an area that constantly needs to be revisited, reviewed, and adjusted, based
on what’s bringing your traffic and what is not.
There are a few areas of focus for this one.
Social media has become a channel of digital influence and is a brilliant tool for building brand awareness. It’s almost impossible for new brands to be successful online without
some sort of social media presence. Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, and other networks can be used for almost everything from specific targeting and real-time engagement to customer
service and direct sales. It’s a no-brainer to stay heavily active on these platforms, and the best part of these is they’re free.
Number two – SEO, which stands for search engine optimization.
This refers to techniques that help your business rank higher in search engine results pages. This makes your website more visible to people who are looking for solutions that your product or service can provide. Think about how often you click onto page two or three of a Google search to find what you’re looking for. Hardly ever so. We don’t want our websites to be ranked there, because no one will ever find us. The first page is where you want to be.
Don’t underestimate the power of emails. It is a highly successful tool to keep your audience engaged. You will however need to find a balance between keeping your audience
educated and informed versus overwhelming them with too many emails. Start working on building your email list right from the beginning. There are some great affordable tools out there that
can help you they help you manage the list of your email contacts and segment your email list. They allow you to customize emails, create, save, edit and manage multiple email templates as well as get detailed reports on the effectiveness of each campaign.
Some recommendations that we have for email marketing are MailChimp and Sendinblue.
Ecommerce is a big playground of its own, but it’s a playground that anyone can play. There will always be bigger and older kids playing there too, but when did that stop the smaller younger kids from playing? Don’t be too intimidated. Small kids grow into big kids. They grow and learn along the way. If you want to play on the playground, go for it!
I hope I have shared enough insights to lead you in the right direction.