These tried-and-true tips will help you launch a successful e-commerce business.
Opening an online shop can be equally daunting and exciting. As a digital entrepreneur embarking on a journey through the world of e-commerce, you are going to find yourself facing obstacles you’ll need help navigating.
These tips address the common hurdles online merchants often encounter on their personal journey through the world of e-commerce.
1. Choose the Right Business Name
Your business name should convey something meaningful, but still be scalable as your business grows. When choosing a business name, the old adage of KISS (Keep It Simple, Stupid) applies here—you want your customers to be able to easily find your online business and return.
Make a shortlist of half a dozen names and get feedback from trusted friends and family members. An outside perspective is invaluable.
If you can find an original name that still has the .com domain available, you’ve hit the jackpot.
2. Establish Your Social Media Presence
Social media is the backbone of modern-day marketing. Social media has the power to turn followers into customers, as well as drive traffic directly to your online shopping platform. Sharing engaging content coupled with the right tags can help you boost your audience and increase customer engagement.
3. Write Top-Notch Copy for Your Listings
A compelling title that describes your product in a succinct, yet creative way will instantly attract potential buyers.
Don’t be afraid to inject some personality in the listing description—your customers will feel like they’re communicating with someone directly (and not just a faceless corporation).
Whether you are selling on Facebook Marketplace, eBay, or your own online shopping platform, honesty is the best policy regarding product imperfections. It is mutually beneficial for both you and your customers. This way, they know exactly what they are getting, and they won’t have a reason to leave negative feedback about your business.
4. Snap Some Quality Photos
You don’t always need to be a pro to capture a great photo. A few high-quality photos will instantly catch the eye of potential customers and can set your store apart from the competition.
Fortunately, the basic elements of a good photo—adequate lighting, crisp detail, and a non-distracting background—aren’t difficult to grasp.
5. Ship Your Items Swiftly (and Add a Personal Touch)
In the era of instant gratification, buyers expect their orders to be packed and shipped instantaneously. Some platforms, such as eBay, allow you to specify a handling time from a dropdown menu when you create a listing. 24 to 48 hours is a reasonable amount of time between when the buyer makes their purchase, to the time you drop it off at the post office.
Once you have packed the item snugly so it won’t be damaged in transit, you should consider putting a thank you note in the package. It’s common for sellers on craft sites, such as Etsy, to write small thank you cards accompanying their unique and handmade items. As a budding digital merchant, you should prioritize serving alongside selling.
On other platforms, it may be more appropriate to type a personalized thank you note. Some sites, like eBay, have packing slip templates that allow you to add your own message to the seller. It may be a small gesture, but it will encourage buyers to return to your store in the future.
6. Build a Positive Reputation
Potential buyers are more likely to make a purchase when they feel confident that you are a trustworthy seller. Positive feedback from previous buyers is one way to reassure prospective buyers.
Different platforms allow various methods to leave feedback. Often, both the buyer and seller can leave feedback about their personal experience during the transaction.
However, more often than not, buyers will only leave feedback when they had a bad experience rather than a good one.
Don’t be afraid to ask buyers that you had a positive transaction with for feedback. It will help you lay the foundations of establishing yourself as a trustworthy seller.
7. Be Flexible With Your Payment Methods
Your shop needs to be ready to accept payment the moment you open its doors—credit, Afterpay, PayPal, and Stripe are good places to start. While you don’t have to offer every option available, it’s wise to stay current with the method most buyers prefer.
For example, in the early days of Gumtree’s operation, buyers and sellers often exchanged cash at meet up. However, many buyers today prefer to pay via PayPal so that they are covered by PayPal’s Buyer Protection.
8. Use Creative Marketing Solutions
Everyone loves a freebie—a social media giveaway is a clever way to increase awareness of your business. Referral contests where entrants share your social media page with other people is one of the best ways to drive traffic to your business and build an interactive community.
Starting a blog on your business domain is a common content marketing tactic. Not only is blogging beneficial for SEO, but you can also indirectly increase your sales by describing the benefits of the products you sell.
In the same way, vlogging on YouTube is an effective way to engage a larger audience. Not only are videos very shareable, but they humanize your brand, and have the potential to receive an exponential audience if they go viral.
9. Generate Some Positive PR
While it’s not quite marketing, the rewards of positive PR are identical. If you’re passionate about what you’re selling, you can register an account at HARO (Help A Reporter Out) to get your story to the media.
Journalists working for high-profile media outlets use HARO to solicit sources for their upcoming stories. Replying to an email query from HARO is as simple as describing your expertise in the subject matter, and why you are an appropriate fit for the story.
Enjoying the Ride of Online E-Commerce
It’s important to remind yourself to enjoy the journey rather than just the payoff. Building an online business from the ground up is hard work. You’ll no doubt encounter a few hiccups in the process.
When you fall in love with the grind, savor the setbacks, and learn from your mistakes—those hiccups will become invaluable lifelong lessons.