If you want to optimize your business for e-commerce, you are not alone. Entrepreneurs everywhere are beginning to see the advantages of turning their companies into e-commerce machines that allow them to make more sales and profits. However, you need the right approach and techniques that are proven to be effective. Therefore, here are eight concepts to consider for your e-commerce endeavors:
Market Research: Starting with the End in Mind
When looking to optimize your business for the e-commerce landscape, it can be tempting to jump right in. However, you need to do some preparation beforehand. Namely, you need to conduct market research on your prospects. By doing this, you can understand what they are truly looking for, how many of them are out there, and how to convert them with your marketing.
For instance, if you are looking to compete in the small kitchen appliance market, then you need to understand what niches are small enough to give you a sufficient profit while not being too large for huge companies to come in and take your market share. Use free tools like Google Keyword Planner, so you know exactly who you’re targeting before you go to the next step:
Getting the Right Attention
You can have the best e-commerce product in the world, but no one will buy it if they have never seen your marketing or heard of you before. This is the problem that many companies face when trying to make a transition into selling online. However, with the right tactics, your problems with getting attention will be a thing of the past.
To start, reach out to journalists in your industry that write for popular magazines in that niche. Pitch them an interesting story angle on your product or company. For instance, perhaps you sell pillows that are made of a special material, and you give back a portion of profits to charities. If you can essentially write the story for them, big sites online will have no problem spreading the word about your product and getting you that vital attention you need to be successful online.
Getting Funding for New Products
Getting funding to launch a new e-commerce product is one of the most significant challenges you will come across. After all, buying up inventory takes money upfront. But if you are not flush with cash, what are your options?
The first and perhaps most apparent opportunity is to get a business partner who can front some funds for your idea. If this is not possible, then you can also look for traditional investors although you should be prepared to give up some equity to them. Thirdly, you can leverage crowdfunding sites like Kickstarter that allow you to raise money from the public upfront and then build the product. Keep in mind that you need to deliver on your promises if you want your business reputation to stay intact.
Revenue Bursts and Special Sales
Once you have your product up and running, you need a way to get consistent sales. Part of this is dependent on how hungry of a market you have and how desirable your product is. However, there are also some tricks you can use to get a much-needed injection of cash flow.
The first is to have a reward for customers that refer your product to their friends. Send them some cash back if their friend uses a code when they buy the item. Secondly, you can send out promotional emails to your list and offer fantastic deals that are only good for a few days or even hours. These are called flash sales. While you shouldn’t build your business off the back of these sales, they can be a great way to get some additional funds rolling.
Building an Email List for Repeat Purchases
If you want to use the latter strategy above, you need to build up your email list first. This seems like a lot of work, but in reality, it just involves a few more hours of work on your end upfront before you have customers coming in.
First, download a plugin for your site shows a popup automatically after each visitor shows up and tries to capture their email. If this doesn’t work, then require emails for purchases so that you can market to them even after they’ve bought one time.
Ecommerce Conversion Funnel Optimization
The success of your e-commerce efforts is going to depend mainly on your conversion funnel and how well you optimize it. Without a great funnel, you could be throwing money away while your ads don’t convert at high enough rates to be profitable. You can also seek to optimize your other business practices as well, now that you will be looking for places to improve. Remember that there are plenty of methodologies to improve either the way you work with customers, customer acquisition strategy, and manufacturing process. Look at systems such as Kaizen or 5S.
To start optimizing your funnel, understand that each step needs to be fully integrated with the next. Your ad that brings people in should be tracking clicks and conversions all through the funnel and sending that data to the other pages. This way you can dynamically insert the right content and be A/B testing the whole time to ensure that the best version of each funnel stage is being displayed.
To start optimizing your funnel, understand that each step needs to be fully integrated with the next. Your ad that brings people in should be tracking clicks and conversions all through the funnel and sending that data to the other pages. This way you can dynamically insert the right content and be A/B testing the whole time to ensure that the best version of each funnel stage is being displayed. Utilize web chat software to engage customers quickly once they arrive at your website. Use the chat to answer their questions and to direct them further down the sales funnel.
Automate Your Inventory
Have you ever purchased a product online, only to get a message later that the seller is actually out of stock? It’s really frustrating, and if this has happened to you, your opinion of that retailer has probably lowered significantly. Business moves faster every year, and when you’re competing against things like Amazon Prime’s 2-day shipping, you can’t afford for your inventory counts to be off. As irritating as tracking inventory can be as part of your business, it is essential for successfully migrating to and maintaining an eCommerce presence.
Fortunately, using an inventory management software can automate the process to update your inventory based on new shipments of product and purchases that are made almost without your help at all. These systems track how much you have in stock, where each item is located in your warehouse (if you have one), how many orders you have outstanding, and can also be programmed to give you low stock alerts.
Managing Third Parties
You can’t build an e-commerce business without the help of third parties. This includes people like accountants, manufacturers, web designers, and warehouse providers. One thing in particular that many entrepreneurs struggle with is keeping their inventory stocked at the right levels.
By outsourcing to a third party, you can avoid a lot of the hassles associated with shipping the products to your customers. It might be tempting to store your goods in your own warehouse or your garage. You might tell yourself that you can handle your I.T. problems by yourself with a good YouTube video or two. However, if you leverage a third-party company, you will never have to do the work yourself, leaving you free to do what’s most important rather than getting bogged down in the minutiae. Sure, that means one more expense. But the time and money you save is worth it.
When it comes to business online today, it is more competitive than ever before. If you want to get ahead, you need solid business acumen and a strategy that is effective and proven. Use the tips above for your new e-commerce projects. That way you can turn your company into an online cash machine now and in the future.