If you’re a small-business owner, you’ve probably looked at sites like Amazon and eBay and wondered how you can rival their success.
While you likely won’t create a platform that can sell any product imaginable, you can certainly use e-commerce platforms to build your business and create online success. From e-commerce marketing software to e-commerce SEO software, here are some tips to get you started on your e-commerce journey.
There’s a certain amount of X-factor involved in creating a successful business, including a successful online store. Of course, the first step is providing something that customers want and offering it at a competitive price. But there’s much more to it than simply offering the lowest price.
This is probably the easiest part. People have a lot of needs, so finding one to fulfill with a product or service isn’t difficult. Don’t worry too much about whether someone else is already doing it. Just make sure that you’re doing it the best that you can. If you’re unsure, check out market intelligence software to get an initial lay of the land.
Of course, there are the logistical considerations of obtaining inventory and securing the means to deliver it to customers. And if you’re creating the products yourself, you want to make sure you have adequate materials and time to meet potential demand. But the key is finding a product that people want to buy. Without the demand, there’s no reason to supply.
We all have websites we hate visiting because the interface just doesn’t feel user-friendly. Maybe the layout is unintuitive. Or maybe customer service is unresponsive or unhelpful. As an online business owner, you want to avoid these issues and provide your customers with an all-around good experience on your website.
If you’re building your own website or store, be sure to try user research software to ensure your customers are using the site as intended. When creating a store on either a pre-existing marketplace or using an e-commerce platform, it’s worth testing first to ensure that the front-end experience is enjoyable. And when it comes to the back-end customer service, it’s crucial to be responsive, understanding and kind to your customers. Customers remember bad customer service, but they also greatly appreciate good customer service.
SEO is the buzzword of the day. But it’s also much more than a buzzword: It's a requirement. If you want your store or website to fare well on the World Wide Web, you’ll need to use SEO software or at least learn the basics of SEO.
When optimized correctly, everything on your site or store is scanned by Google (and other search engines) and ranked by keyword relevance. You want that content to be both useful and easily read by Google, Bing and other search engines so you can rise in search rankings. This allows your website to be seen and visited by more people. Much like a brick-and-mortar store, increased foot traffic leads to increased sales.
Social media is non-negotiable in the marketing world these days. If you’re looking to open an online store, you want to create a social media presence to attract new customers. Social media management software makes it easy to manage multiple profiles (on multiple platforms) in one place, while also tracking the success of posts and interacting with customers.
We recently discussed which POS integrations can help brick-and-mortar businesses make the most of their software tools. The same principle applies to e-commerce platforms. Many e-commerce platforms integrate with different software platforms, from marketing tools to accounting tools. Choose an e-commerce platform that works with your current software. Alternatively, buy new tools that work with your current e-commerce platform. Better to have all your data available in one or a few places than scattered across a dozen tools.
Not all e-commerce platforms or payment gateways come with security measures. If you’re collecting delivery addresses, credit card numbers and other personal information, you need to ensure that data is secure. Fraud protection software protects both you and your customers from fraud. As an added measure, you should also look into data security software. Depending on the payment gateway software you use, supplementary security may or may not be necessary. That being said, it never hurts to have more protection. Your customers will appreciate it.
No one likes being ghosted (or ignored). If a customer has issues with one of your products or wants to make a return, they should feel like you are easy to reach. Tools like live chat software make it easy to speak to customers directly and in real time, but this can be unsustainable for a small business that can’t employ people 24/7.
If live chat isn’t an option, ensure that customers can reach you easily via email or social media. Clearly state the best ways to reach you and how long it typically takes you to respond. Setting expectations early can prevent customers from becoming agitated and turning a small problem into a big one.
Building a business — even an online business — takes time and effort. But there are tried-and-true strategies to make customers happy. If customers want what you’re selling and can easily get in touch with you, you’re on your way to success.
Once you’ve become an e-commerce master, check out 10 Great Online Marketplaces for E-Commerce Pros.
Lauren is a market research analyst focusing on the e-commerce and retail industries. Since joining G2 in July 2017, she has focused her energy on consumer-driven spaces after spending time in the vertical, design, and CAD software spheres. She graduated from the University of Chicago with a degree in English language and literature and her writing and research has been cited in publications such as Forbes, Eater, and Nasdaq.com, among others. She enjoys building and sharing her knowledge, and in her free time enjoys reading, knitting, and gaming. Her coverage areas include retail technology, e-commerce, and restaurant technology.
Subscribe to keep your fingers on the tech pulse.