How To Start An E-Commerce Business
Some tips to starting an e-commerce business
E-commerce businesses are relatively quick to set up, can be cheap to market and allow you to tap into a potentially global customer base.
If you are setting up an e-commerce business you will quickly learn that this requires a certain strategic approach. If you want to grow your business online it requires a perfectly designed website which is easy to use, as well as employment of a wide range of online marketing techniques.
Why Start An E-Commerce Business?
Nowadays, if you are thinking of setting up a business you have the choice of going down the traditional route or opting for e-commerce instead. Whilst both have plenty to recommend them, the global marketplace you can tap into by setting up your business online is a pretty big inducement.
Here we look at the reasons why it makes sense to think seriously about e-commerce:
Quick To Establish: With an e-commerce business, you don’t need to worry about setting up retail premises or anything like that. If you’re a very small start-up you can even begin from your own home. All you need to do is get your product range finalised, hire a firm of e-commerce web designers to get your website looking great and functioning perfectly, and you’re ready to begin. It really does pay to have an expert design your site for you, as this is where customers will get their first impression of your company – and you want it to be the right one.
Easy To Expand: Most businesses start off small and build up. When you decide it’s time to expand your product range or win more customers farther afield, you’ll discover that with e-commerce there are no boundaries whatsoever. Even if you want to branch out into export business there is no need to worry about hiring new premises. Just update your website accordingly. This means that, in addition to being quick and simple, expansion is also a lot cheaper with e-commerce. This leaves you with extra capital to invest in other areas.
Marketing Strategies: Once you’ve decided to expand, there are so many online marketing tools at your fingertips – many of them free. From email marketing to pay-per-click advertising, article marketing or social networking, there are plenty of ways to bring in new traffic to your website to help you grow. This is another area in which e-commerce web designers can help, because in addition to putting websites together they should know how to help you boost your online presence using SEO etc.
Huge Customer Base: With a bricks-and-mortar base, you are often limited to a certain geographical area which means your pool of clients can be smaller. If you conduct your business online, on the other hand, you have instant access to a potentially global client base.
Think of how many millions of people use the internet around the world each day. Whilst you may still want to start off small and local, it’s great to know that you have this potential for increasing your customer base once you are ready for expansion. Also, if you make sure you offer customers a highly professional service each time, they are likely to return because purchasing goods over the internet from a reliable source is so much easier than going out to the shops.
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Developing A Successful E-Commerce Business
E-commerce development requires an entirely different strategic approach to traditional commerce. For one thing, your entire business is centered on your website so you have to be sure this looks right and functions perfectly. Added to this, you need to be aware of the latest internet marketing strategies to ensure online visibility. Bearing this in mind, here are some areas that need to be covered if your e-commerce venture is going to be a success:
Web Design: Your website needs to establish your company’s brand image so it’s important that it’s clear, simple and easy to navigate. If the design is too busy and confusing, the visitors will just be put off. Also make sure all the links work and there’s a clear search facility so your visitors can find the products or services they want in a hurry. Otherwise they will not return to give you that all-important repeat business.
Clear Product Range: It helps, when you’re first establishing a business, to not try to offer too wide a range of products. Often it’s a good idea to start off in a niche market so it’s easy to target certain groups of consumers. This will make your marketing strategy a lot simpler to begin with. Make sure that all the products you do sell come with very clear descriptions and attractive images on your site, as customers will not get the chance to examine them or pick them up as they would in a shop. Naturally, they will want to know as much as possible about a product before they buy it.
Hire An Expert: In addition to ensuring your website is running smoothly, you also need to develop marketing strategies to attract the visitors there in the first place. For this, it’s a good idea to outsource to an e-commerce development expert who can design a strategy tailored to your specific business. They will know all the most effective online marketing techniques such as SEO, pay-per-click, social networking etc to gain your website good search engine rankings and maximum exposure.
Offline Marketing: Whilst the majority of the marketing activities for an e-commerce business will be focused online, it can also be useful to employ offline marketing techniques to spread awareness of your website to potential customers when they are not online. For example, if you have company vehicles to deliver products you could advertise your website on the side of these. You could also advertise in specialist magazines relating to your niche sector as these are likely to be read by the kinds of people who would buy your products.
Easy Payment Process: Lastly, do make sure that the check-out process you use on your website works quickly and is easy to understand. Use a well-respected method such as Paypal as this is known to be secure and will give customers the confidence to buy from you without having to worry about online fraud.
Selling On eBay, Etsy Or Amazon? Introducing Your Cost-effective Business Partner
Finding a cheap international courier may at one time have proved a tricky proposition. But thanks in part to increased competition from within the courier industry and courier brokers providing a more streamlined approach to helping businesses fulfil orders across the globe, these days, the outlook for online retailers taking their wares overseas is looking very bright indeed.
If you are someone who is currently selling to a global market – perhaps you use eBay, Etsy, or Amazon to advertise your latest products – or perhaps you only occasionally need to send a parcel abroad – finding a reliable and cost-effective courier service should be one of your foremost priorities and there are many courier companies specialising in eBay delivery service for those who have daily regular parcels to send.
The main advantages of using a courier broker to transport your goods overseas are cost, convenience and choice. You see, because brokers are not tied to using a particular carrier or logistics company, they are able to shop around for the best deals on your behalf.
For any business to remain competitive, it’s vital to keep a tight hold on the purse strings. With Post Office services seemingly increasing all the time, shopping around for the best deal is essential. Only now you won’t have to – your courier broker will do all the ‘legwork’ for you. It’s one less thing to worry about in these hectic times.
As well as the price factor, reliability and trustworthiness are the other essential elements to consider when appointing your international courier company. Check customer feedback – not only on the courier’s website, but on independent websites too.
If you’ve ever had a parcel go astray (as many of us have), you’ll know how frustrating it can be. As the retailer, it means you will have to send a replacement product out to the customer and ‘swallow’ the loss on your balance sheet. And sometimes your customer may cancel the order altogether if the purchase was required by a particular date – which means you’ll have to issue a refund. Either way, it’s not great for business.
Whether you are running a home-based business or you are working from an office or manufacturing outlet, finding a first rate courier service will do wonders for your reputation. Indeed many consumers rate customer care as the single most important factor when dealing with companies and brands.
Finding a cheap international courier online is ‘one-click’ simple – and hopefully you will be using your trusted partner for many years to come.
Like we’re constantly being reminded, you only get once chance to make a great first impression. And that’s truer than ever when it comes to business.