With more and more people shopping online most business enterprises (either new or existing) want to set up an online store to capitalize on this.
If you want to start your SMB e-commerce store and you don’t know where to start, this guide is definitely for you.
Initial Steps –
1) Decide what you want to sell –
The very first challenge to building any business is to decide on the product/service you want to sell as it can be instrumental to your success. You have to carefully choose the product by spotting patterns and ideas all over the internet and matching customer interests to your own data analysis.
2) Source your product/service
After you have sorted out what you want to sell, the next thing to figure out is how you are going to obtain your products. You can either manufacture your products or you can be reselling products. You also may want to provide a service.
3) Legal registrations, logo, name of the company, etc.
You should always get your business registered before you start your e-commerce business. Also when you start with a new enterprise choosing the right brand name (which is legally allowed) is important. Your brand name must be unique yet reflect your niche and the type of product you are selling.
4) Book a domain name
A domain name is your online identity and hence it should be catchy and relevant to your online business. Also, it has become extremely difficult to get domain names of your choice, and hence you can look at different extensions as well. Some popular domain extensions are .com, .in, .org, .co, .biz etc.
5) Choose the right e-commerce platform or create one from scratch.
The next step is to build an e-commerce store and the easiest way to do it is by using an e-commerce platform. There are a plethora of platforms (like Shopify, Big Commerce, VARStreet, and many more) available in the market which can help you with easily creating, managing, and expanding your online store.
6) Decide the target audience
The target audience is extremely critical. Whom you want to target, B2B, B2C, Govt., or certain niches like restaurants, retail, etc. will have a big influence on your overall business plan.
Next Steps –
A. Creating an online store by choosing the platform
There are a few things that you must keep in mind when creating an online store
1) User-friendly interface
The content of your website must be easy and simple for the visitors to understand. The online platform must enable people to get what they want in the least number of steps.
2) Quality photos/Images
It is very important to have good quality product images while designing a web page for your e-business. But apart from being good, they have to be optimized as well. They should not make the website sluggish.
3) Design that is in sync with the products you sell
Your web page must be designed in such a way that it should speak about the product you sell (i.e., it should complement the product you sell)
4) Payment Methods: – For any e-commerce platform it is crucial to integrate with multiple payment options (credit card, debit card, bank transfers, wallets, etc.) so that they can provide a seamless payment experience to the customer.
5) Reviews and Ratings
You must have some feature on your webpage that enables your existing customer to share their experiences with your product/service. This helps to build a lot of credibility for your website.
6) Landing pages and CTA
A powerful landing page can do wonders in driving conversions and the quality experience of the visitors. Here your visitors are looking for a quick solution, and your job is to serve them fast. A good Landing page with the right CTA can help boost traffic as well as conversion
7) Mobile Optimisation/Responsive UI
Statistics show that transactions on the mobile account for 45 percent of US e-commerce sales. Gen Z and Millennials are doing most of their research and buying through mobiles. So it is extremely critical that your website is responsive. It will also help your brand to climb the search rankings and bring in more mobile traffic.
As an online business enterprise, you must be able to provide your customers with all the product information they need so that it helps them with buying decisions and keep them from clicking away to a competitor with better e-commerce catalog management. Some of the best practices for e-commerce Catalog management are as follows:-
1 Product information:-
You must make sure that you provide comprehensive and complete product information in your catalog. You must also give all technical specifications, images, and supporting videos along with real-time inventory and pricing. Having consistent detailed product information will reduce cart abandonment and hence better sales.
2 Properly categorized products:-
For any online store with a huge number of inviting products, it is very important to properly categorize the products as it will help the customers reach the right product. Clear and logical categories will help to quickly find the goods by navigating the Catalog and hence improve user experience.
3 Upselling and Cross-selling:
You can use e-commerce growth strategies like upselling and cross-selling your customers related or alternative products to increase average order value.
4 Rich content:-
In a virtual world where the customer cannot physically see or touch the products, it becomes necessary for you to give the customer a pre-purchase product experience. Rich product content is multimedia content that stands out because of its visual features like graphics, videos, virtual tours, 360-degree product views, access to a catalog with in-depth product details, and more which enables your customer to visualize what your product looks like. Offering a product listing full of rich content will boost your SEO rankings and get more sales.
Getting your pricing right is the best way to improve your sales conversions. There are a lot of factors to be considered when developing an E-commerce pricing strategy. Competition, material costs, customer expectations, shipping costs, and taxes all play an important role in the pricing of your products. While working on your pricing strategy you need to make sure that you don’t price your products too high or maybe too low.
Some of the pricing strategies for e-commerce businesses are
- Cost-based pricing
- Competition based pricing
- Value-based pricing
- Dynamic pricing
- Bundle pricing
- Consumer-based pricing
Each of the above pricing strategies has its inherent risks and benefits. So you need to look through them carefully and judiciously decide which works the best for your e-commerce business. Optimizing your price will ensure that you maximize sales and keep yourself ahead of your competitors.
Few additional points to keep in mind that may become bothersome once you start doing business are –
1) Managing Returns –
The return policies of the E-commerce store have to be created well in advance as the biggest drawback of an online buying experience is its lack of product touch and feel. And if the buyers don’t get what they presumed to be about the product/service through pictures or videos, they must be empowered with a good return policy (definitely with required flexibility and precaution).
Security is a big concern for online customers. So you must make your site secure with an SSL certificate. Your web provider must come with an inbuilt SSL security so that the customers feel secure while sharing their vital details with you.
3) Customer support
Creating stellar customer support in an online business setup can be a game-changer for your business. And so setting up a cohesive multi-channel customer service strategy is essential so that you can settle their grievances or queries speedily. In addition, you can improve the customer experience by providing more self-help and FAQ documentation.
4) Analytics –
The VAR e-commerce platform should have an inbuilt analytics feature or have integration with others so that you can track your visitor’s behavior. And when you are completely done with implementing your website, you can drill down deep into your web analytics data which will help you understand the customer’s buying behavior which in turn will help you make continuous improvements.
5) CRM integration if required –
CRM is a tool that displays the customer’s entire journey in your store. Integration of CRM with your E-commerce platform will help you understand, analyze and improve customer experience on your e-commerce site.
Don’t Forget Marketing:
However, setting up a store is just one part of your overall business plan. Now we need to market the store and there are various Marketing vehicles which need to be used depending on your products.
1) Organic Search – SEO
2) Paid Advertisements – Google ads, social media
3) Landing pages
4) Abandoned cart management
5) Affiliate marketing techniques
6) Email marketing
7) Word of mouth
At the initial stage, you must optimize your business for SEO and must take advantage of any online marketing tools that your VAR e-commerce platform provides. And once your business is up and functional you can explore other options as well to see what works best for you.
VARStreet is a SaaS VAR e-commerce platform that enables businesses to deal with IT and Office Supplies. It comes integrated with 45+ distributors for catalog, pricing, and inventory. VARStreet can help you set up an E-Commerce store end to end. Once you create accounts with the distributor’s catalog and pricing can flow seamlessly. The built-in marketing tools can be utilized to increase traffic to your website. You can also create compelling landing pages to boost your conversion. Whether you are trying to set up a new business or trying to take your existing IT & office supplies business online, VARStreet can help you get there in lesser time and cost than most other providers. Also, it will drastically reduce your overall maintenance time and costs so that you can focus all your time and energy on growing the business.