What You Need To Know Before Starting Your eCommerce Site

Meet our guest:
Meet our hosts:
Dave Pancham
Dave has spent over 12 years in the industry where he has managed an e-commerce supplement shop for 8 years where they grew from 6 figures in yearly revenue to over 8 figures, managed millions in ad spend on Facebook, and founded a 7-figure fitness franchise marketing agency specializing in paid advertising, lead nurturing, and membership growth coaching which currently has over 100 clients.
Alex Ivanoff
Alex's specialty lies in psychology, paid advertising, funnel building, technology, and finance. He has managed millions of dollars in ad spend on various social platforms, and solved complex problems with thousands of businesses.

In recent years, eCommerce sites have helped brands grow rapidly and battle back against large corporations and big box store franchises.

However, it was only a few years ago when most eCommerce brands were unknown, flying under the radar as “the new and shady internet thing.” Now, massive eCommerce brands are delivering their products consistently to millions of people — and making top dollar doing so.

It is a truly unique time when you can create a new problem-solving product, find your consumers online, deliver it to them, and maximize profits (all without ever owning a physical store).

But it is not all roses and rainbows. It is completely expected to feel overwhelmed. In fact, some people may ditch the idea entirely because they don’t know where to begin or how to maintain such a business.

Fortunately, we’ve collected some tried-and-true tips that you’ll need to consider before launching your eCommerce business venture.

The Future Of Shopping?

Many people think of eCommerce as a wave or a trend that will fade over time. But here's some news for you: It’s time to learn how to surf.

It looks like 2020’s lockdown wasn’t as bad for ecommerce brands as it was for their brick and mortar counterparts. According to Trade.gov, the official website of the International trade administration in the US, online sales grew to an all-time high record of over 4 Trillion dollars since the pandemic started, as people found it all the easier and time-saving to shop online.

Brands saw this spike in online shopping as an opportunity to cut out their distributors, eliminate the middleman, and sell their goods directly to their customers. On top of that, digital marketing practices like conversion rate optimization and remarketing allowed them to further decrease operating costs.

At this point, people have enjoyed ordering their coffee, pet food, clothes, make-up, tech, and many many more products, only by clicking a button

Do you think they would prefer going back to going through traffic, looking for a parking spot, and wasting an hour of their day only to buy some cat food?

We certainly don’t think so.

Do You Really Know What You Are Selling?

Prior to setting up your business, you should definitely consider your go-to-market strategy. If you don’t know, an organization's go-to-market strategy is an action plan that outlines how it will bring its product to the marketplace, deliver on its key value propositions, satisfy customers and meet revenue generation and profit goals and expectations.

In the end, people don’t need another generic brand, and despite what your product team might tell you, your prized creation isn’t actually for every single shopper online. You need to know your market.

Maybe you have an idea for a much-needed product that will solve a certain problem. Maybe you looked at a specific niche and noticed a lack of a high-quality premium product. Maybe you’re planning to reinvent towels!

It doesn’t matter what you are planning to sell, so long as you make certain that this specific product or service is in demand and already has a growing audience.

This way you can guarantee that your product marketing - if done correctly - will already have a large audience waiting for it. And the more potential customers in your audience, the more data you can access to better individualize, customize, and optimize your brand towards a more customer led approach. Then your only job becomes to simply put it in front of them through marketing campaigns.

On the other hand, maybe your product is completely new with a concept never seen before hovering in a category or niche? In this case, you will need to put intellectual property protections in place before you put it on the internet. Then craft a compelling marketing campaign to help sell your creation. This is where you’ll have to distinguish your go-to-market strategy from a classic sales or lead generation standpoint to a more demand generation focus. People will need to know why they need your brand before they choose to pay you. 

If you are selling a product that is widely available on the other hand, it is important for you to understand how many sellers there are for this particular item. To be able to differentiate yourself in the mind of your audience.

As a general rule it’s important to know that the eCommerce  market is already highly saturated, and you won’t have a way to differentiate yourself as a seller unless you understand the market you are in, and the customer you are selling to.

A piece of general advice we would give you here is to sell a product that you deeply understand and that interests you personally. Many entrepreneurs are selling knowledge they already have or a product they already know how to produce.

Not only will you be creating a business with a product that you are passionate about, but you will also be able to truly add value through your personal experience.

Remember, knowing your market is key to your eCommerce success.

Thou Shalt Know Thy Customer

Assuming you already know what you are selling, Do you really know who you are selling to?

Knowing your customer is key for any business endeavor. Successful business owners understand what their customers want and how to make their product revolve around that.

The depth of knowledge is also crucial, it requires knowing more than a name, an age, or an income range. As a business owner, knowing your customer’s hobbies and interests along with what they watch, listen to, and read can be a profitable advantage.

Now you know who you are selling to, and also where and how they spend their time.

Understanding your customer’s buying behavior is also very important.

As a business owner, you need to almost internalize what type of person is most likely to need or want the product or service you provide. These are some of the key questions that successful business owners need to ask themselves on a daily basis:

  1. What is their reason for purchasing your product or service?

  1. How often are they going to buy that product or utilize the service?

If you can be proactive with your outreach efforts around the time you know they will purchase, chances are the customer won’t look elsewhere.

  1. Who are they buying for?

Your messages and promotions are going to be contingent upon if they are purchasing for themselves or for someone else.

  1. Where are they most likely to purchase?

Companies that know what their clients want and what they expect can also work on customizing the customer experience to create loyalty and repeat line business.

Smaller and more quick-to-respond entrepreneurs and small-business owners already have the upper hand in achieving this competitive advantage. Simply extending the length of your customer’s interaction will provide a greater opportunity to create a positive experience and build a strong relationship.

Listen to your customer’s feedback and provide genuine solutions. Start crafting a go-to-market strategy and a coordinating marketing strategy that focuses on what your customers are telling you about what they need, not what you think they want to hear about your brand.

Do you want to learn more about your customers? Click here to learn the 4 steps to creating your customer avatar.

The Tough Question: Are you stingy with your marketing?

Are you selling exclusively online?

If yes, will you sell only on your own website or through eCommerce retailers as well?

But which retailer best fits your brand?

Asking the right questions will ultimately result in a water-tight online presence.

You see, although Amazon is trying to grow its ability to sell custom or handmade items, the bulk of the demand for those items goes through sites like Etsy.

If you are selling on eCommerce retail sites, will you be selling it in your own online store (third party) or directly to the eCommerce retailer (first-party)?

You can set up your own seller store on many big eCommerce retail sites like Amazon, Walmart, eBay.

But with 12 million eCommerce brands, how can you stand out from this huge crowd?

Well, You have to lead a battle on two fronts.

  1. Paid media. Such as ads
  2. SEO, or organic traffic - aka content

To know more about Paid media, click here to uncover the 3 best PPC strategies to promote your business.

As for SEO, any successful website is not complete without a top-notch SEO in place (search engine optimization).

With strong rankings, you can generate leads and grow even more. You have probably heard the term SEO used millions of times before, but now this time it is crucial that you understand it.

Website Optimization for eCommerce Sites

Wondering how to set your eCommerce site up for success?

First, identify keywords that are relevant to your business and the products you are selling. You can use keywords throughout regularly updated written content on your site. This content should also be accurate and informative. Getting your message across online is vital. Or what we call “Ever-Green Content”.

Second, utilize social media for your eCommerce store.

Promoting your business online is one of the best ways to drive traffic. After all, it’s an online business.

Remember that  how you portray your brand online determines how eager people will be to visit your online store. If you are overwhelmed by all of the marketing jargon out there, start with something that most of us already know, social media.

Social media is the best way to reach a large number of people instantly for free, but it does take time to build a following. We would advise setting up your social media accounts before launching your business to create interest.

eCommerce marketing investments

Marketing can also come at a high cost. If you don’t have the money, you better be prepared to have some elbow grease to get working. Marketing your business is a lot of work, whether it be creating social media content or running ad campaigns.

But what type of marketing will you use?

Will it be sponsored content? Pay-per-click ads? (PPC), Or social media advertisement? 

You need to be prepared to have an understanding of all these aspects. If you think you will struggle with this, we recommend considering hiring a team of experts if you have the budget. What’s important to keep in mind is that not all digital strategies are made equal. Some are pay to play (PPC), others are free (SEO) but take time to see results. You need to consider your ideal conversion timelines, your customer lifecycle, and the average returns you expect to see from closed sales to help determine which strategy is right for you. 

How will you Ship Your Products?

Are you shipping your products or do you want to have a distributor to manage shipping?

If you are selling directly to consumers either through your own website or as a third party on an eCommerce site, will you be shipping directly to the consumer and handling the shipments yourself?

If you are selling directly to eCommerce retailers, these questions are crucial to answer.

And right after you lock your choices in, you need to determine:

What is your shipping rate?

Is free shipping an option?

What do your products weigh?

If you want to know more about eCommerce shipping, you can click this Shopify article to know how to ship products to customers.

Does your website drive away customers?

No matter what industry you are in, having a great eCommerce website is crucial for your company’s success. Fortunately, you can still build an engaging website for your business, even if you are not a web designer yourself.

How, you ask?

You start first by selecting a platform to build your store on. We recommend using either WordPress or Shopify. These two platforms offer many themes and plugins that will help your website look professional and visually appealing.

Alternatively, you can hire a professional web designer who will create your online store for you. It is crucial to find someone who will be reliable.

Some business owners might not like the idea of offloading the digital face of their brand to a third party business. But here’s something that most prideful business owners fail to consider: today’s digital eCommerce customer had some seriously high standards of quality, digital engagement. 

Having a bare bones site with some basic html and old school designs doesn’t cut it anymore. In fact, a less than stellar site will cut your performance at the knees. In a post-lockdown, eCommerce heavy, digitally saturated market, simply showing up online isn’t nearly enough to help distinguish your brand. You need to be sleek, memorable, and valuable from the very first online interaction.  

Many business owners would agree that the more money you invest in your website, the better the results will be. So, forking out a little bit more can mean a more engaging online store in the long run.

You can click here to uncover HubSpot’s 9 quick steps to improve website loading speed.

Conclusion

Setting up an eCommerce business may be hard work, but it is definitely possible. Most importantly, you have to remember that success takes time and work. It will not happen overnight.

Hopefully the questions above can serve as a rubric for you to follow when building your own go-to-market strategy for starting your eCommerce site. 

In such a complicated industry, it can often be helpful to simplify things to their simplest form: 

First, understand what product you are selling and who you are selling it to.

Then start thinking about how you would go about marketing that product. 

Which platform, and which strategy would you use?

And then plan your shipping process to get that product in front of your customer’s doorstep.

At the end of the day that’s all eCommerce is, right?

Victoria Petersen
Helping businesses navigate their growth to the upper echelons of eCommerce domination.