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How To Start an E-Commerce Business
- Be Truthful to Yourself – Are you in a fantasy land on vacation or in reality, at home, taking out the trash?
Is your appeal to start an online business from a distance seeing only claims of making huge sums of money or are you up-close, aware of the hard work, possible challenges and steps you should take to succeed by researching?
- The demographics of your market
- Who your customers will be and if needed, a specific area of the country or world
- Your competitors and their business history
- The methods of marketing available for you
- Compile a list of possible roadblocks and solutions
- Speak to or hire any professionals
- Identify Your Hot Button – Determine what you can sell better than anyone else?
- Think Outside the Box – With the same item, what puts a business ahead of its competitors?
Was their price the lowest, their delivery fastest, were they the only one with that product, did they give better rewards or gifts or was it their reputation for doing business and customer service?
In your market research you will identify what people are looking for and your job is to then provide the solution. This will move you to the front of the line and compel buyers to seek out your website and make their online purchases from you.
- Plan of Action – Your company’s business plan will consist of these points in detail:
- Financial status, strategies: startup, monthly overhead, contingencies
- Suppliers: your contacts and what you will obtain from them
- Logistics: getting your product from production to buyer
- Targeted customers & their regions: using your demographic research
- Resource Management: mindful of costs and your competition
- What will your online business contribute to the local economy
- Tax-Legal Consultations
In these two areas, ignorance is not bliss and will impact the information entered into your business plan and strategies of how you will market your company. Learn what governmental laws say from these two fields about what you can and cannot do in your online business that protects the buyer and include the information you need to have to protect your company as the seller.
- What’s your ‘Rep’
From the beginning, you and your company must establish and maintain a good reputation in all aspects of doing business. Invest your time, serve your customers and take actions to address or handle anything that attacks your company, watching competitor comments; inaccurate news reporting; poor reviews or bad customer care or services.
- Murphy’s Law
Be prepared for unexpected, additional costs that can impact your online business more than a traditional storefront due to the base of operations from anywhere in the world vs a set location. Having possible customer misunderstandings of product expectations or intent, additional product costs could be:
- Replacement of a product
- Damages from security checkpoints or shipping
- Fraud online
- Seasonal losses
- Red Light-Green Light – To acquire a customer, you must generate traffic; to retain them you can market through:
- SEO: Search Engine Optimization
- Special Offers
- Advertising on or offline
- Social Media and web-tools
- Changes – Be prepared as technology impacts everything including your customer’s buying habits. Schedule updates to improve/add to your Website new:
- Payment Methods
- Shipping Options
- Terms, Conditions, Policies of Sale
- Online Handshake
Most buyers won’t look at them but those that will, your terms, conditions, policies of sale should be clearly stated protecting your buyer and you. When in place, a buyer’s trust will follow and success will be deposited in your bank.
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Remember those around you that have helped you along the way.