What is eCommerce?
Before we get into the many aspects of the topic, let's quickly address the basics: What is eCommerce?
eCommerce stands for electronic commerce. It is selling a product or service online. That's it!
eCommerce has expanded exponentially in recent years and will only continue to do so.
Small and medium sized businesses, along with corporations and even independent freelancers have benefited from eCommerce. Their products and services are so easy to discover and purchase at any hour of any day from almost anywhere in the world. The possibility to scale in this day and age, is like no other.
eCommerce is the fastest-growing retail market.
Why wouldn't you want to be part of that?
There are loads of benefits:
- Global Market
- 24/7/365 availability
- Targeting customers
- Work from anywhere
- Reduced costs / lower investment
Even though you might be new to it, eCommerce has been around for decades. If you're curious to learn more about its past, check out our post on the history of eCommerce.
Who Can Start an eCommerce Store?
Anyone! Literally anyone (yes, even "dummies") can start an eCommerce website. This includes everyone from solo entrepreneurs to Fortune 500 companies.
That said, to be successful, provided they have the few essentials to get started.
The essentials of an eCommerce include:
- A product or service to sell
- A place to sell them (e.g. an eCommerce website)
- A means to process payments (e.g. a checkout extension)
- An eCommerce marketing strategy to attract customers
Now, let’s discuss each of these a little further.
Product or Service to Sell
Right off the bat, you’ll need a product or service to sell. You can either make this yourself or you can source it from someone or somewhere else.
Some things you want to keep in mind here, are:
- Who you will be selling your product or service
- Other businesses (Business-to-Business or B2B)
- Other consumers (Business-to-Consumer or B2C)
- Something unique / niche
- Something that solves a problem
- The cost of your goods and your selling price
- You want to price your products at a low enough rate that you remain competitive to similar products on the market.
- However, you don’t want to price yourself too low that you don’t make sufficient profit to continue operating.
- On the other hand, you don’t want to price yourself too high that no one purchases your products.
A Place to Sell Your Products - Your eCommerce Website
Next you’ll need to figure out where you will be selling your goods. The nature of eCommerce is selling online, so you’ll need a website and/or an eCommerce platform to sell your products from. Keep in mind that your website is essentially acting as your physical shop. This is where people come to interact with you and purchase your goods. This is where you influence them. This is where you impact how likely they are to convert from a visitor to a sale. And hopefully a repeat sale.
You can either build your own website or use a CMS - Content Management System. A CMS provides the basic framework for your website, and allows you to add and edit your products, accept payments, and manage your online store.
Some examples of these, which we recommend include:
Factors to keep in mind when choosing your CMS platform are:
A Way to Process Payments on Your eCommerce Website
Next, you'll need to think about transacting with your customers. This is a really important decision. Your payment provider is someone that needs to be credible and trustworthy. After all, they’re the ones handling your income.
Important points to keep in mind here are:
- Compatibility with your e-commerce platform
- Availability in the countries your business targets
- The ability to accept payment in different currencies if necessary
- Fees charged
- Reliability and Reporting
- Usability and Customer Support
We highly recommend are:
A Marketing Strategy to Bring Traffic to Your eCommerce Site
Lastly, you’ll need a good marketing strategy to attract your customers. Let’s face it - if you don’t attract customers to your online store, you aren’t going to make sales. It’s not like having a physical storefront where people may stumble upon you. You have to bring your customers to your online store.
This area will need a lot of work if you’re going to be successful. It’s also an area that constantly needs to be revisited, reviewed and adjusted based on what’s bringing you traffic and what is not.
There are a few areas of focus for this:
Social media has become a channel of digital influence and is a brilliant tool for building brand awareness for your eCommerce company. It’s almost impossible for new brands to be successful online without some sort of social media presence. Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, and other networks can be used for almost everything.
[Check out this post about Facebook eCommerce Shops for some examples of just how powerful this approach can be]
From specific targeting and real-time engagement, to customer service and direct sales, it’s a no-brainer to stay heavily active on these platforms. And the best part - they’re free!
I suggest learning some social media marketing basics before getting starting on one of these platforms, though. Just because they're free doesn't mean they're easy. You could waste a lot of time posting to these channels without ever seeing any meaningful results. Take some time to invest in your social media presence and it will produce a reliable ROI.
SEO - Search Engine Optimization
SEO refers to techniques that help your website rank higher in search engine results pages. This makes your website more visible to people who are looking for solutions that your product, or service can provide. Think how often you click onto Page 2 or 3 of a Google Search to find what you’re looking for. Hardly ever. We don’t want our websites to rank there, because most won't find us. The first page is where you want to be or aim to be.
How you go about doing this involves a long list of best practices. SEO can cover everything from how you write product descriptions to posting SEO-friendly blog posts to creating the right eCommerce sales funnel for your market. All of these aspects of your business are opportunities to gain the kind of traffic your eCommerce website needs to be successful.
Don’t underestimate the power of email marketing. It's a highly successful tool to keep your audience engaged. You will, however, need to find a balance between keeping your audience educated and informed versus overwhelming them with too many emails.
There are some great, affordable tools out there that can help:
- Manage your email contacts
- Segment your email list
- Customize emails
- Create, save, edit, and manage email templates
- Detailed reporting
Recommendations for these are Mailchimp and Klaviyo.
But just like with other forms of eCommerce marketing, there are a number of best practices you'll to follow to see the best results. I've covered some of these email marketing secrets before if you're interested in picking up some of them right away.
eCommerce is a playground of its own. But it’s a big playground that anyone can play on. Don’t be too intimidated.
Of course, if you want help with your company's eCommerce website development needs, we're always here to help. Feel free to contact us with any questions.
Other eCommerce Resources:
What is Shopify? YouTube | Blog
What is Magento? YouTube | Blog
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