Making money on Ecommerce?
Make Money with ECOMMERCE
Making money on Ecommerce?
When we took computer and business courses, we were taught to get started on ecommerce we needed certain basic elements. These traditional elements are not absolute necessities but they are foundation concepts to get anybody going on ecommerce. The example of selling refrigerators to Eskimos reminds me that if we can create a need and tell a convincing story, we can still be successful on ecommerce. Here are the fundamental concepts.
- What to sell
We first have to decide on the products or whatever that we wish to sell. To make money online, we need to sell something, whether they are products or services or ideas or whatever we have. That “something” better be item(s) we have access to or have some control over. They may be our own or other people’s products. The choice of the right thing to sell is a science by itself. We must however ensure these products are legal.
In general, to be successful we need to pick a “niche” product or service, i.e. something we have knowledge on.
Not to worry if you cannot think of any product. You can still make an income by being an affiliate, selling for big companies like Amazon, Chapters, Google, Wal-Mart, Bestbuy and etc. There are literally millions of items you can sell online. Still run out of ideas or cannot find any products or services to sell with any of these companies, then consider creating a product of your own. We are living on a digital age; customers are not limited to buy any product or service. Customers often go online now to search for information. If we have good information and we can get enough surfers to click on them, we will get paid well by companies such as Clickbank and the like. We will do even better when we can get communities to promote our idea. It is good to know something on SEO, social media marketing on Facebook, Twitter, link-building, setting up blogging pages, CPA, PPV and etc.
- Websites or online stores
Like any conventional brick-&-mortar storefronts, we need websites to showcase our products or a way to inform customers what we are selling. Especially when we are in direct sales, the need for websites is more evident. The costs of setting up these websites are considerably cheaper than the normal brick-&-mortar stores, more like a small fraction of the costs. They can range from about a few dollars per month to several hundreds of dollars per year. The costs are usually dependent on web spaces and bandwidths which may also depend on
-the number of items,
-complexity of designs,
-traffic and several other criteria.
We now see plenty of “FREE” websites with numerous templates. Note that “FREE” is usually for a limited time or with some strings attached. Like the “show and tell” classes which often get the attention of the young students, promoters are imbedding video presentations into ecommerce websites. It is no wonder that Youtube is the third most visited website after Google and Facebook. Due to the popularity of smartphones, tablets, mobile devices and mobility of world population, the trend now is having websites to be mobile-friendly or GPS-friendly. Few years from now the term “M”-commerce maybe be taking over “E”commerce and “M”-sites will be replacing our normal websites.
- Hosting service
We would need a reliable hosting company to put up our web stores. Note the emphasis is on “reliability”. We must insist the hosting company providing at least 99.0% actual uptime if not 99.9%. All the great features of complicated script acceptance, statistical analyses, unlimited domains, bandwidths, email accounts and superb marketing efforts amount to nothing when our webstores are down. Prices range from conditional “Free”, a few dollars per month up to $30 or $40 per month.
- Payment acceptance
The most common way is to accept credit card payments over a secured socket layer (SSL) system. What if we don't have a merchant account to accept Visa, MasterCards, American Express cards, Discover or major chain charge cards? Don’t worry; consider using PAYPAL or Authorize.net or some form of payment processing gateways for our customers. Regardless which gateway we use, our customers will always look for the safe and secure system of SSL certification. We would not bother with payment gateway if we are accepting barters.
We may have the most wonderful products or services in the world but unless our customers know of our products else we might as well not waste our time and effort of putting them up on our websites. Whether we choose press releases, search engine optimization (SEO), social media blogging, affiliate programs or just word of mouths to promote our ecommerce, the important thing is to hit the critical mass to get traffic. Three words that sum up the world of online marketing are TRAFFIC, TRAFFIC AND TRAFFIC. Whether we choose to do the promotion manually or using paid automation software to promote our websites, the fact remains we need to generate TRAFFIC and lots of it. It is the number game, the more targeted buyers we get, the more sales we will get.
- Other factors; costs, employees, inventory, logistics, support staff, and time
Having put our webstores online and that our stores are generating some orders, we might think we have found success. Far from it, I do not believe our “CLICKS” stores will replace the “BRICKS”-&- mortar stores completely. I believe they are a complement to each other. We still need “people” to package and deliver the products and/or to offer after sales service. Ecommerce is not just about direct sales, it is very much a people business. Nevertheless, we have the choice of setting up ecommerce webstores with the above elements at comparatively low costs, with or without any employees, stocked inventory, or arranged logistics.
Some new or nonconforming products may require after sale service staff or support staff. One important cost that many of us forget is the time we spend on ecommerce and time is MONEY!
I am not attempting to cover all elements of ecommerce here simply because every business is unique and has its own niche. Like any normal brick-&-mortar stores, we will need different criteria or elements put together to make our ecommerce a complete business.
For anyone starting out on ecommerce web sites, other than getting the above elements ready, I often ask my clients what were their purposes of setting up the web stores and the markets they wish to target. Once the purposes and markets are identified, the rest of the elements are generally relatively easy to set up as there are now plenty of free or low cost web stores with thousands of free templates which we can use.
Ecommerce is not difficult. There is not much technical skill required to get started. If we can use emails and smartphones, we already have the skills required. Cost wise, we can start one ecommerce site as low as only US$3.95 per month or purchase an online mall at less than $200 per year! The final issue, the “make it or break it” element, we need a STRONG PASSION to succeed. The knowhow does not guarantee success but a burning desire and focused commitment will definitely accomplish GREAT things. So, what is holding us back?