The growth potential of e-commerce as an industry is phenomenal. It has already crossed the $1 trillion benchmark in 2012, according to trade website e-Swype. This statistic though is true of only the Western world. The real potential of growth in e-commerce is in the developing markets, where internet penetration is on the rise and more and more people are getting familiar with transacting online. These markets include China, India, Pakistan, the Middle East, parts of Africa and some island nations in the Indian Ocean. These economies in the next 5 years are going to be the real catalysts of growth in the e-commerce space.
This is therefore also the right time for anyone with an entrepreneurial streak to consider starting an e-commerce venture. Given that e-commerce is looking at a quantum leap in terms of growth, more and more entrepreneurs are looking at setting up e-commerce stores and marketplaces. The e-commerce space though is a cruel mistress and there are some companies that become behemoths in their spheres of influence, while others have disappeared without a trace. There is a proven sequence of steps you can follow to guarantee your success when you’re starting a small business online. They are as follows.
1) Find a need and fill it: Always look at what the market wants, before you decide on the products you want to stock. Many people do not consider the needs of the market, and this is a crucial error. How do you gauge the need of the market? Quite simple, you speak to consumers, you visit online chat boards and have discussions with market experts and common folk alike. Do a keyword search on Google to gauge what people are looking for, so you get a sense of what people are in the market for. Take a genuine interest in the business of online retail and read reports about the next big thing in your trade. Sounds like the bare basics, but due diligence is important.
2) Design your website: Designing your website to be responsive, user friendly, aesthetically pleasing and of course easy to navigate is of vital importance. Remember, your customers need to be able to find what they are looking for as quickly as possible, else they will look for it elsewhere. Keep these things in mind when designing your website and you should be alright.
- Choose one or two ‘clean’ fonts on a white background
- Make your navigation clear and simple, and the same on every page
- Only use graphics, audio or video if they enhance your message
- Include an opt-in offer so you can collect email addresses
- Make it easy to buy–no more than two clicks between potential customer and checkout
- Make sure that the name of your webstore is easy to remember and not too long to type
- Your website is your online storefront, so make it customer-friendly
3) Write copy that sells: Remember in the online domain, copy acts as your salesperson, pitch and closer. There’s a proven sales copy formula that takes visitors through the selling process from the moment they arrive to the moment they make a purchase:
- Arouse interest with a compelling headline
- Describe the problem your product solves
- Establish your credibility as a solver of this problem
- Add testimonials from people who have used your product.
- Talk about the product and how it benefits the user
- Make an offer
- Make a strong guarantee
- Create urgency
- Ask for the sale
It isn’t the hardest thing in the world to do, but doing it with flair makes the task more difficult than it actually is. If you’re unsure about writing the copy yourself, do not hesitate to outsource it to an external party. You won’t regret your decision. It’s actually that important.
We will go over the rest of the rules of successful e-commerce shop in our next post. Do watch this space for more.
Raymond Jefferson is an entrepreneur who runs a specialty home décor e-commerce store. He also teaches a course in internet marketing online.