August 29th, 2018

5 E-Commerce Tips for Small Business Owners

Author: Eric Lynch
Eric Lynch
Partner & Director of Business Development

So you want to start an e-commerce business. Why not, it seems easy enough. There’s billions of people using the internet, and all you have to do is list your products, right?

Well, there’s a bit more to it than that. But luckily, we’ve worked on enough of these and marketed them that we can help any small business owner with a few tips. So here are 5 that we think will help you kick-start your e-commerce business.

Tip 1 – Know Your Audience

There’s only a few e-commerce stores where the idea that “anyone with a credit card” is their target audience. You are not, nor will you ever be Amazon, Walmart, or eBay. Those folks exist, they’re the richest businesses on the planet, and they won’t allow another one of them. So, you need to find a niche, understand them, and market to them.

A lot of successful e-commerce stores we’ve worked with usually start by selling to themselves.  They understand their audience because they are their audience. So long as you don’t eat your own profits; it’s a great way to really understand who your customers are, how much they spend, and how many others are out there like you.

Tip 2 – Know Your Enemy

If you think your business idea is unique and you don’t have any competition, there’s probably limited to no market for what you’re doing. It also begs the question, where have you been buying your stuff? No, there’s probably a slew of competitors out there so you need to know what they do right and wrong, and improve on all those things.

Use tools like SpyFu or SEMRush to help you understand their web presence, ad budgets, etc. better. This will help you get to understand what you’re going to need to do to start competing. Also, buy from them. Learn their customer experience, shipping charges, anything that will help you do a better job and win more customers.

Tip 3 – Get Your Content On

Whether it’s tutorial videos, blogging, email, newsletters, or something crazy like a podcast, content creation will position you as an authority figure in your marketplace. Learn to use tools like social media to help you get the word out and build a community. If your content is good enough, it will get shared. Those other eyes and ears are the ones you need to reach to get more customers.

Speaking of social media, they now provide you with tools to increase your sales directly on their platforms, don’t hesitate to use them as new channels.

Tip 4 – Measure Your Success (not just in sales)

Sales growth is obviously the main point of having an e-commerce store. However there are other measurements to see how your sales funnel is shaping up for the future. You see, not everyone is ready to buy when they hit a website. Some are there researching the best products and prices. So why not find ways to get them in your funnel earlier in the process? Things like newsletter signups, social engagement, and even abandoned carts are an indicator that purchases are on the horizon.

Seeing an uptick in your signups and then the newsletter open rates is a sign that you’re resonating with an audience. When they are ready to buy, you’ll be the one they go to. Even just seeing year-over growth in traffic is an indicator that what you’re doing is working.

Tip 5 – Don’t Be Afraid to Be Wrong

You might have started with some natural and even logical assumptions on what your potential growth would be. You might have hired the most qualified agencies, created content every day, and shared everything you did. A year later and you’re in no better place than you were when you started. While I doubt that’s going to be the case, it is possible. It’s ok to change your strategy. Would that mean that I’m wrong – yes. But not every e-commerce store or market is the same.

Learn from mistakes, and again keep finding out what your competitors are doing. If they’re successful, steal their ideas. Even if it contradicts the suggestions I’m making here.

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