There are over 12 million ecommerce stores that operate online, but only about 650,000 sell over $1,000 worth of products per year.
So, while the online ecommerce market is booming and is poised to soar over 3.5 billion in 2019, merely building an ecommerce store doesn’t guarantee that you’ll have any success.
However, if you take the necessary steps when planning and building your ecommerce store, you can significantly increase your chances of turning a profit consistently and breaking into even the most competitive online markets.
The important thing is to be very thorough and take the time to execute each step of the process thoroughly.
To help you get started, here are the most fundamental steps you must get right if you want your ecommerce store to turn into a profitable business for many years to come.
Choose a Niche Carefully
Starting an ecommerce store is a long and challenging process, but the first step is always the same – you need to decide what you want to sell and pick a niche that fits your needs and has good potential to be profitable.
However, many novice online marketers make the mistake of rushing through this step. They are too eager to get their store up and running, so they hurry to select the niche and often end up working in a niche that doesn’t interest them or isn’t a good fit for their situation.
Ecommerce can be a difficult business, but you are more likely to succeed if your website is popular and effective at keeping potential clients interesting. The best way to ensure interest and keep orders coming in is to use online visual merchandising to your advantage. One way to do so is to make sure you display images of all of your products. However, that online products-merchandising strategy will only work if those images are as professional and high-quality as possible. The subjects of your images and videos must also help you draw potential customers in. For example, displaying a video of a happy client using your product may boost sales. All visual elements of your website, including text, must be in sync and support the main goal of getting your visitors to buy your products.
That’s why, although it may be tempting to just make a decision and move forward, you should be careful and take as much time as you need researching niches until you find one that fits with what you want to do.
But how to approach choosing a niche for your business?
Well, the first step is simple – you need to look inward and think about areas that interest you. Do you have hobbies that you are passionate and knowledgeable about? Or maybe you have work experience that makes you familiar with a particular field and gives you insights about the best products to promote?
If you can choose a niche that works for you as an individual, it will be much easier to push through the difficult periods and overcome numerous obstacles that you’ll face on the path to success.
Once you know what you’re passionate about, you can start looking at specific niches in the field. Use a keyword research tool to type in some keywords and see if there’s enough traffic and interest while getting ideas for more specific niches you could focus on.
Finally, you should look at the competition that you’d be facing in the niche that you’re interested – use competition analysis tools to see what type of websites rank for the best keywords and if it’s realistic for you to compete.
Make Sure You Select the Right Products
Selecting a niche is a fundamentally important step in the process of building an ecommerce store, but to make the most out of the promising niche that you chose, you need to have products that are appealing to your target audience, profitable, and reliable so that you ensure long-term customer satisfaction.
The first step of the process is rather straightforward – you need to figure out who you are targeting and the pain points that you want your products to address. If you take the time to develop a comprehensive and specific customer avatar, you should have no trouble identifying the most critical problems that your products should solve.
What’s more, you should look for specific features that are the most important to your target audience. Some audiences are very price sensitive, so finding the best deals might be your best strategy, but others need the products to be high quality and include specific features, and are willing to pay more.
Bottom line is, you need to know now which segment of the audience you want to focus on and offer a range of products that cater to different needs.
You can also take a more opportunistic approach and search for types of products that don’t have as much competition – you’ll find that some niches are dominated by one type of product even though there’s a demand for alternatives.
Once you have a few ideas of the types of products that you could promote, you should make sure that you verify the feasibility of making it work before moving forward, as any mistakes at this stage can be costly.
Check out the specific product-related keywords for traffic and see if other stores are promoting the products that you’re considering. Also look at the traffic numbers for specific products searches, as that can give you an inkling if there is a real demand in the market.
You can also talk to the people from your target audience and get to know their preferences, which can help you gain a better idea of whether the specific product’s that you’re considering don’t have any significant drawbacks that you might have missed.
Finally, if you find that the product has good potential to sell and be profitable, you will need to find a supplier and figure out how you’ll want to handle storage and shipping.
Having storage to keep your products and shipping them yourself gives you the most control over how quickly you can deliver products, but dropshipping offers more flexibility in terms of pricing and lowers your initial overhead costs, which can be huge when you’re just starting out.
Whichever method you choose, make sure that you use valuable resources and services such as Wise Merchant to help you optimize your ecommerce shipping fulfillment and ensure that your customers are happy.
Develop a User-Friendly Website
In order to succeed at selling anything online, you will need a website that your target prospects can trust.
In fact, website visitors take only 50 milliseconds to form an opinion about a website, so if you fail to present yourself professionally and appear reliable, the chances of turning that visitor into a customer will be greatly reduced.
However, many ecommerce store owners struggle to develop a website that looks professional and trustworthy while at the same time providing a convenient browsing experience to all users.
With rising user expectations, you need to have a unified design that’s in line with your brand and appealing to the people that you want to reach, and that requires thorough planning of every detail that you include.
However, even though the process is complicated, the first step is rather simple – you should select a domain name that’s memorable, brandable, and available. You can use a domain name generator to come up with domain name ideas that could become your brand and appeal to your audience.
Make sure that your site is convenient to use on all devices, as today, most of the online traffic comes from mobile, and so the majority of your profits are likely to come from mobile users as well.
To make sure that you don’t break the bank during the website development process, you should have a good understanding of how much does a website really cost and adjust your plan according to what you can afford.
The good news is, there are plenty of ecommerce platforms that make the process easier and offer built-in features that are designed to provide a convenient experience to online shoppers.
Create a Comprehensive Marketing Strategy
All of your efforts in developing an ecommerce business won’t mean anything if you can’t get targeted visitors to come to your site.
That’s why having a solid marketing strategy that can deliver qualified leads consistently is essential, even though finding a formula that works isn’t always easy.
Although many ecommerce owners try to find the one lead-gen method that will solve all of their traffic issues, the truth is that in order to maximize the chances of success, you need to have multiple marketing strategies that work to get visitors to your site.
This way, even if one or two approaches fail to bring any significant results, you can still have at least some consistent traffic to your site from other approaches.
But what specific marketing strategies should you use?
Well, there probably aren’t online marketers that don’t know what does SEO stand for, but even still, many of them fail to implement an SEO strategy that delivers tangible results.
With Google algorithms becoming more sophisticated and better at spotting black hat SEO practices, your best bet is to follow the Google Webmaster Guidelines and try to provide value in your content, while also making it easy for Google crawler bots to analyze your site.
Over time, quality content and a solid site structure will help you climb the rankings for the relevant keywords, and you can start receiving consistent traffic without needing to do anything more.
However, until that time comes, you still need to find a way to get prospective customers on your site.
One method for getting instant leads to your site that’s growing increasingly popular is using cold email outreach to reach your ideal customers instead of waiting for them to come to you.
Although this may seem intrusive, if you can craft an engaging and relevant email and present your case to people that could be interested, you may start getting some quick sales which can help to push through the initial months while you get some traction.
If you’re not sure how to craft an effective cold email, you can use templates to increase cold email outreach ROI by taking a framework that works and customizing to fit your needs.
Whichever marketing approaches you end up using, remember to track ecommerce sales in Google Analytics to see which approaches are generating the best results so that you can tweak the ones that aren’t performing and scale up the ones that you see as having the biggest potential.
About the author
Marcus Svensson is responsible for the Growth of Albacross, a B2B lead generation platform, with previous experience as a founder and background in Mathematics from Stanford. Albacross is one of the top lead generation tools in Europe today and growing with hundreds of new companies every day. For best lead generation visit albacross.com