It has never been cheaper to start an ecommerce business. Gone are the days where you need to spend hours learning HTML to build your own website – businesses like Shopify and Create mean that you can create an online shop from around £30 per month. Which is great news for cash-strapped startups – or is it?
Getting your ecommerce website online only tells half the story. What’s much more important is getting people to buy. And that means having the right product, at the right price, in the right place, with the right promotion. Hang on? That sounds like old school marketing! And yes, it still has a place in running an ecommerce business today.
Just because getting your ecommerce business online
is can be cheap, that doesn’t mean that you can ignore the basic rules of business. In fact, these rules apply more than ever. I firmly believe that if you want to succeed with an ecommerce business that you need to invest properly in branding, a decent website and in promoting the business properly to get it off the ground. But there is one question that you can ask yourself that will cost you nothing and gain you everything.
Why should people buy from my shop over my competitors?
There it is. It’s not rocket science. It’s not earth shatteringly off the wall. Just a basic business question.
Let’s say, for example, that you have ambitions to pull together a shop that takes the best local designer makers in your area and showcases them to your customers. You want to create a gift shop. The bad news is that whilst you can certainly do this cheaply, doing this well, in a way that means you won’t compete on price, is going to be a lot harder.
You need to think seriously about your competitors. Not On The High Street (NOTHS) and Gift Wrapped and Gorgeous do this sort of thing really well. What do you bring to the table? What are you doing differently? What are you doing better? Why should I spend my £30 on a gift in your online shop rather than, say, NOTHS? If you really want to get volumes of people buying from you then you need to be able to answer this question. And you also need to take steps to ensure you can compete.
And that means having a logo that looks enticing, an ecommerce website design that looks engaging, compelling and reassuring, a process that gets people to the checkout page and beyond and a meaningful brand that keeps your customers coming back for more. There are a host of other things to consider too: how do people find your online shop (both via SEO and Pay Per Click advertising and with offline PR and promotions), what does your packaging look like, how do you set the business up, control your stock and manage deliveries?
But you have to answer the most basic of questions first: Why should people buy from my shop over my competitors? After all, if you can’t answer this question, how are your customers going to be able to?
Image Credits: Nice Package via Paisley St Claire