Having an online store offers tons of advantages over a traditional brick-and-mortar storefront, and some definite disadvantages as well. Navigating the ecommerce landscape can be tricky, but once you find your path, you’ll find it can be incredibly rewarding and offer seemingly limitless opportunities for growth and success.
When it comes to selling online, you’ll very quickly notice that the internet levels the playing field in a lot of ways. Having a beautiful storefront with a variety of offerings and prime real-estate becomes more attainable online for small businesses. And, this can be accomplished without paying luxury rent prices or hiring an army of employees. The downside, is that this is just as true for everybody else as it is for you, meaning that the internet can also bring you into direct competition with hundreds or even thousands of similar sellers.
While the internet may be a level playing field in terms of visibility and access to customers, it’s up to you to stand out. So, one of the first things you’ll need to figure out with your online store is what your niche is going to be. By narrowing your target audience to a smaller segment of the population, you can severely limit the amount of competition you have within that niche. In fact, with a narrow enough niche, you might not have any competition at all. Of course, you still want your products and your brand to appeal to enough people for your business to succeed, but by striking the right balance, you can serve a very focused and specific group of people better than anyone else.
The next thing to do to make sure you stand out is to have a fantastic website, and online store experience. Your site and online store need to be fast, well organized, easy and intuitive to navigate...oh, and to look fantastic! We highly recommend going with a platform like Squarespace for your ecommerce and website building needs, as they have a vast catalogue of feature-rich and visually stunning templates that can help take a lot of guesswork out of how to set up your online store, and give you a quick leg up on the competition.
No matter what ecommerce platform you go with, make sure it is easy for your customers to both find and purchase products. Search fields can be a huge help. If users have to register for your website, make sure the process isn’t an obstacle to the buying process or navigation. Also, try to collect as little information as possible from your customers during the actual buying process. The more form fields they have to fill out, the antsier they’ll get.
When people do make purchases on your store, make sure there is a fast and effective system in place for them to get in touch with you, and for you to provide great customer service (if required). While you’ll do a great deal of promotion yourself, ultimately, the best promotion for your store is going to come from your loyal and passionate customers.
Speaking of promotion, this is probably where you’ll be spending the bulk of your time after you set up your store. Marketing is what separates the casual ecommerce sites from the major leaguers.
In simple terms, you want to think about the experience of your ideal customers when they look for information about a certain product, and try to intersect with that experience. Create a blog to write blog posts with valuable knowledge about your products, your company and your industry. Answer questions that you think your customers might be asking. Get involved in online forums where your customers are inquiring about the kinds of products you sell. Create social media accounts to interact with your customers on the channels where they spend the most time.
Starting an online store can be difficult, but incredibly rewarding. Once you find your niche and get in a groove, you’ll be amazed at how what feels like such a small store can do such big business.
Need help from a team of marketing professionals who has not only launched several of our own ecommerce websites, but also helped many of our clients do the same? Apart from building you a beautiful, user-friendly Squarespace website, 10twelve wants to be your strategic partners to help your business grow. Contact us today!