When we look at the digital age, the need for an online business has started and quite frankly has become necessary since the advent of online shopping. Whether it is 3 pm or 3 am, you can look for whatever you want online and purchase it from any business that is offering your desired product or service. The use of online stores began when people started selling and purchasing things that were in daily use. It was not long when people used to watch a commercial on television and wait for it to come into stores to go and purchase it. Today, you can see a new mobile phone ad on television and search for it online to purchase it immediately. Life has been made a whole heap easier because of online stores.
Starting Your First Ecommerce Store – The Plan
Before you build your online store, priority number one is creating a killer e-business plan.
Congratulations — you’re thinking of starting an online business. You certainly know how to spot a growth area when you see one. The rest of the economy might be shaky, but e-commerce enjoys rosy predictions for years to come. More and more people are spending more and more money online every year.
Of course, if it were that easy, everyone would start an online business. Well actually, it seems like everyone is starting an e-business. Hordes of new online stores spring up every week. Retired grade-school teachers and people who used to sell shoes for a living start them, as well as experienced, well-financed business types and people who have no idea what they’re doing launch them.
And why not? The barriers to entry are low, a lot of online businesses can be run from home, and there’s gold in them hills.
But, in truth, it’s not quite that simple to succeed as an online merchant (which is different from just setting up a site). As one e-commerce expert noted, there are more dollars being spent online all the time, but the amount of competition for those dollars is growing even faster. At this point, it could be tough out there.
But don’t lose heart. There are a lot of people making money online who don’t have degrees from the Wharton School of Business (Trump’s alma mater). Plenty of cyber-merchants are flying by the seat of their pants and doing exceptionally well in the process.
You can be one of them, if you’ve got some cash to invest, are ready to work hard, and — this part gets tricky — are willing to put some serious thought into it, you will succeed. Let’s start with the serious thought required before you open for business.
Two Vital Parts
The easy part is assembling your basic business structure. You’ll need to choose your software platform, set up a credit card account, develop a marketing plan, and figure out a few more nuts and bolts. Oh sure, there’s a lot of homework involved here — and plenty of cash outlay — but all told, this part is not rocket science.
The hard part is developing your e-business plan. This requires awareness and understanding of what it means to do business online, and an inventive strategy. Developing a sound business plan is not only critical; it’s the do-or-die step in starting your online store.
What’s really different?
Is there anything that really distinguishes your site from similar online merchants? If you’re merely going to sell widgets like the 14 other well-established widget sites do, your ‘me-too’ approach will limit your success. Find some way to set yourself apart so people come to you rather than your competition.
Here’s the reason originality is so important in your e-business plan: In the good old days you could set up a dry-cleaning business in your neighbourhood, and it didn’t have to be any different from the dry-cleaning business across town. No imagination, but no problem – because nobody would drive across town to get their clothes dry-cleaned, they will use the most convenient store.
However, online, all businesses are right next to each other, so customers can be picky and choosy as to which supplier they will purchase from. Click your mouse and you’re there. Simply setting up the exact same online business that someone else set up in 2002 is going make your success an uphill climb. They’re already established in the search engines and you’re not, so setting up an online business takes a little more originality and a kind of twist that tweaks potential customers, that setting up a real-world store doesn’t.
What’s the competition?
Scope out potential competitors’ sites – now is the time to spot the chinks in their armour. What are they missing? What customer needs do they fail to serve, that you can cater to and gain the advantage? Pretend you’re a customer: what do you wish was different about your competitors’ online store?
Who are your customers?
The people who spend money at your site are the most beautiful people in the world — you want to know everything about them. (In fact, you better share their interests, otherwise you’ll never bond with them enough to be successful). With all your customers’ desires in mind, make your site the centre of their world, beginning with the front page, make it clear that you exist for their special needs, all the way through to the last page.
Two More Key Points Before You Begin
Talk to people
This one’s a freebie but it’s all-important: get as much advice as you can. Call business owners. Pester people. Look under rocks. Find out why people failed doing the same thing you plan to do. Don’t go into this blind: good information can save you tens of thousands of dollars.
Do the math!
This is a big one! Before making your final decisions about your e-business strategy, sit down with a calculator. Make a list of all your upfront one-time start-up costs, and all your fixed, monthly ongoing costs. Make sure you include a hefty line item for your marketing budget, and another hefty line for unexpected expenses, which will occur every month, guaranteed.