For better or worse, the world is a more digitally connected place than it was even three months ago. The coronavirus pandemic has very quickly changed the way we live our lives. For many businesses, selling online is the only way to make revenue right now. Many people are selling online for the first time now. If you feel like you need a crash course in eCommerce, you’re not alone!
In this article, we’re going to give you a quick crash course in eCommerce, broken into eight simple steps:
It goes almost without saying that in order to successfully sell products online, you need to have a baseline level of business savvy. You need to understand which business models work and which ones do not.
I am taking the time to write this out because I want one point clearly understood. Just because a product sells in-person does not mean it will sell online. Many brick-and-mortar businesses are dipping their toes into eCommerce for the first time, seeing it as a potential method of salvation from he coronavirus-induced economic downturn.
Yes, eCommerce can save your business. The fundamentals still matter, though. Identify a target audience and figure out what they want and need. Research their online behavior. Make sure that you are selling a product that meets needs that already exist.
To borrow directly from Neil Patel, a very accomplished marketing professional: “take something that already exists and make something better, while also doing a better job of marketing it.”
Socrates said, “the unexamined life is not worth living.” The eCommerce version of that axiom is “the unexamined product is not worth selling.”
Before you sell something online, you need to ask a few questions:
The answer to all of these questions needs to be yes. Keep coming up with ideas, experimenting, and tweaking until you reach the point where the answers are all yes.
After you have figured out what you want to sell, you need to figure out the supply chain. As we see it, there are ten parts to this:
This is a lot to bear in mind. Yet before you start selling online, you need to know where your items are coming from, where they will be stored, and how they will be shipped to customers.
If you are transitioning a brick-and-mortar business to an online one, feel free to skip this step. If not, read on.
You might expect picking a name and logo would be easy, but there are more steps to this than you might expect. This article on eCommerce CEO does a good job of spelling them out, which we’ll paraphrase here:
There are tons of great eCommerce software solutions on the market right now. Some are hosted by external websites, such as Shopify and Bigcommerce. Other eCommerce sites can be set up on your own website, such as Magento, WooCommerce, and OpenCart.
We encourage you to do your own research on this subject, but as a good primer, check out our Shopify vs. WooCommerce post. Not only does this post go over two exceptionally popular software solutions, but you can also get a sense for how you can evaluate other solutions as well.
This will differ based on the eCommerce software you select, but some basic principles remain the same. You want your website to look professional, have consistent branding, and you want it to rank well in search engines. You also want to avoid making careless eCommerce mistakes while you’re at it.
At this point, we will now refer you to some great guides for setting up different shopping cart solutions:
Once your eCommerce store is set up, your task is not complete! No crash course in eCommerce would be complete without some suggestions on how to drive traffic to your business. After all, even the best designed eCommerce store in the world is a bit of a numbers game. You have to have visitors to have buyers!
With this in mind, you will want to think about your customers’ habits. Where do they socialize online and what news sources do they read? You will want to be present on the blogs they read and the social media sites they use.
The dynamics of press coverage will differ by industry, but some basic principles will apply no matter what you sell. First, you will want to optimize your website for keywords. The titles of your products, and the pages they are on, should contain words that people are likely to type into Google.
Once you optimize for keywords, this will help you pull in organic search traffic. This is often not enough, though. You should also consider advertising through websites such as Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram.
Beyond ads, though, there are many more marketing techniques you can employ. You may want to look into email marketing, social media marketing, and content marketing, all of which can generate traffic by different methods.
Once your store is up and running, you will want to periodically review your website and your business practices to find things you can improve. One simple way that you can lay the groundwork for this is by implementing Google Analytics. Taking a few minutes to set this up will grant you access to tons of data about your users’ locations, interests, how they found your site, and information on what they did while they were there.
Once you know who is visiting your site, you can start running retargeting advertising. That is to say, you can find people who have visited your site and show them ads while they are browsing other websites. You can also start sending emails to people who add items to their shopping carts without purchasing.
Setting up an eCommerce store for the first time takes a little work, but it’s worth it. Ecommerce was growing at an incredibly fast pace before the pandemic and has become even more relevant now as we live our lives remotely. It’s the perfect time to get started!