If you have a phenomenal idea for a business, but don’t have a huge amount of capital behind you to cover expensive overheads, it’s likely that you’ll gravitate towards e-commerce. The beauty of this kind of business, is its simplicity and accessibility. All you really need for a thriving e-commerce business is a good idea, a great product and an ability to market that product effectively. It’s relatively easy to set up and maintain, and relatively low risk.
But while the digital realm has created an era of unparalleled opportunity for imaginative entrepreneurs with a great product to sell and the marketing nous to sell it, it’s also resulted in stiff competition. In your ecommerce business is to stay afloat in the face of rigorous competition it needs to offer customers something that its competitors are missing…
Beautiful (and original) front-end design
Believe me, this matters! It doesn’t matter how great your product is, or how phenomenal the standard of service you can offer may be if your website looks like a dog’s dinner. A great many budget conscious entrepreneurs use ready made ecommerce platforms like Shopify and WooCommerce which are plugged into WordPress or Squarespace sites. These are all well and good and may offer some great opportunities for customization… But they’ll hardly enable you to stand out from the crowd. Remember that your website is not just your sales floor, it’s also your marketing tool. It needs to keep users’ attention on the page and minimise bounce rates, and a paint-by numbers front end is unlikely to do this. Consider, instead, using a professional drupal developer. Drupal is an excellent choice for startups because its open source code means that your developer won’t have licensing costs that they’ll pass onto you. Moreover, its versatility and scalability mean that it can grow with your business. Most of all it will enable your developer the freedom to compose a front end that’s eye catching and unique as well as engaging and intuitive, which brings us to…
An emphasis on user experience
Even in the world of ecommerce, the customer is king. When making a sale in person you’re able to influence the customer’s behaviour through keeping an eye on their body language, posture and facial expressions as well as what they’re saying. In the digital realm, however, you need to employ other means to influence customer behavior. Your business can position itself above your competitors, not just by having a website that looks great but by placing a string emphasis on user experience (UX copy). Nothing drives bounce rates faster than websites which are not user friendly. Make sure you work with your developer to make sure that your website is easy and intuitive to navigate and that you use compelling calls to action to subtly nudge user behavior in the right direction. If your website makes them feel comfortable, engaged and in command, they’ll scroll right past your competitors to get to you.
A strong focus
Have you ever seen that show Kitchen Nightmares? In it, celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay visits failing restaurants and helps them to steer their enterprises back in the right direction. His most common complaint? Over-diverse menus that lack focus. Many entrepreneurs make the mistake of thinking that in offering as broad a range of products or services as possible, they will be more likely to succeed and attract as many customers as possible. However, the opposite is often true. The more things you offer, the fewer things you’re able to do well. Make sure you emphasise your own specialised products, rather than offering as much as you possibly can. It is often far better to cater to a smaller niche and have a reliable customer base than to try to be all things to all customers.
So, your website is on point and user friendly and your range of products has been streamlined to make sure that you cater to your niche and offer something that your competitors don’t. But bringing those customers in in the first place will, of course, determine the success of your enterprise. For this, you will need to use specifically directed marketing and advertising. A reckless entrepreneur can easily burn through their marketing budget trying to create a carpet bombing of a marketing campaign, trying to reach as many people as possible rather than staying focused on a particular group of people, those people whom you think are likely to want to use your service and buy your products.
If you have this and your rivals don’t, you will keep your overheads manageable and lay the foundations for success in ecommerce.