Another Episode in the books!
John Lawson joins the 28th session of Smart Brand Marketing with your host Tom Libelt.
We talk about using the social platforms to drive more sales, build brands.
We also go into how Amazon is your biggest competitor if you’re selling through their platform.
How to Build an E-Commerce Brand
Regardless of how long you have been in the online market and what kind of business you have, it’s always a good idea to venture into a new market. One of the better markets to head on to right now is E-Commerce not just because it is one of the more popular online industries now but it does offer a rather stable rate of ROI for those that can keep up with the competition.
Making your business as successful as possible in E-Commerce will depend on how you build a brand around it. But before you go about building a brand here, it’s best that you learn a few things about the market first.
Why Venture into E-Commerce?
So, why should you be in this market in the first place? As one of the more popular online markets right now, E-commerce does offer a number of advantages for you that no other business market out there can offer. However, if you are really looking for some reasons, there are quite a number of valid ones out there. Here are just some of the more compelling ones.
1. It’s Slowly Becoming one of the Biggest Online Markets
As a market, e-commerce is showing great potential of becoming a leading online industry even as early 2018. Before this year ends, it is expected that revenues from e-commerce will reach the $2.5 trillion mark. In the US alone, there was an 12% market growth in the sector as observe from 2012 to 2018.
It also helps that the industry is highly dynamic and fluid by nature. This means that businesses that can either follow trends or start them tend to have the best chances of success here. This also means that the market tends to diversify itself with every new business concept being introduced here.
2. Passive Income
The ability to earn money from every minute of the day (even the ones when you are not active) is a feature not a lot of businesses have. One of the few exceptions that has passive income earning ability directly embedded into its model is e-commerce.
The reason why this is so is simple. E-commerce is not limited to one place as brick-and-mortar businesses often do and tend to operate even if the owners are AFK (that’s gamer-speak for being away from the keyboard, by the way).
Everything in the business is online which means it is visible and accessible in any place and through every mobile device out there so as long as there is a reliable internet connection. This also eliminates the need for you to set up multiple storefronts in various international markets which can be a hassle depending on where you want to operate.
3. It’s Easy to Set Up
Unlike a traditional business, which requires months of construction and paperwork to set up, you can have your own functioning e-commerce platform in no less than an hour. This means that so as long you have a product to offer, you can quickly set up a business on the same day you have conceptualized it.
Aside from being easy to put up, there are a number of tools out there that you can use to further improve your services and visibility in the market. From SEO tools to selling platforms, there is a tool out there that might just help you enhance your online businesses for a fraction of the cost. The best part about this is that you don’t have to learn anything about coding just to master these tools.
4. Online Buying is the Future
Just how many people out there actually get their stuff online? As of 2018, those people already comprise of 80% of the entire Internet population. It’s that big that opting not to tap into these people is not a recommended move for any business owner right now.
However, you have to understand that these consumers operate on a considerably different playbook in the same way that e-commerce functions differently than any other market. For starters, online buyers right now are not that invested in things like brand royalty so forget about reeling them in with catchy tag-lines and quirky advertisements.
Instead, your goal is to build trust with them. Online consumers are not just looking for products, they are looking for solutions to their problems. If whatever you are offering offers such for them, these consumers will find value in your business which should establish a trusting relationship between you and your target market.
5. You can Sell and Entice More with Minimal Effort
Unlike in traditional buying where enticing buyers to spend more is not advised, you can actually offer more to your online buyers without looking clingy or desperate. All of this is done through an algorithm which monitors your customer’s spending habits and provide them with offers based on the categories the pages they have visited. From similar items to accessories, what you can offer to your customers to enhance their buying experience are considerable through your online business.
There are also some improvements in recent years meant to solve one of e-commerce’s biggest problems: cart ditchers i.e. those buyers who went through all the phases of the buying process but stopped right at the end. There are apps and algorithms now that can help you retarget these people and entice them with newer offers before they even leave your landing page.
The point here is that the ability to remind your customers that you are offering to them might have some value for them can ensure that every buying process is beneficial for you and these people.
These are just some of the reasons why setting up an e-commerce page for your business is recommended in these times. But, of course, deciding to venture here is not enough. You also need to know where you should set up shop in order to yield the best possible results.
Where to Sell?
Having a winning concept is not going to cut it these days. You also need to look for the best spot in the online world where you can directly interact with your potential customers. Visibility, after all, still plays a vital role in your success here as much as it does in the real world.
So, what should you look for in an e-commerce platform? Whatever platform you choose, be it Amazon or Shopify or anything else, it should possess certain key qualities.
This is the first thing that you have to look for as, believe it or not, you’d still have to pay to get your own e-commerce brand set up. With that in mind, the best e-commerce platforms out there won’t host you for free. After all, they’d have to pay the people to keep the platform running and ensure a smooth transaction for everyone using it.
Some e-commerce platforms will be more expensive than the rest depending on the features that they offer. Regardless of your choice, always remember this: never sacrifice an optimal customer experience just to save money on your part.
Aside from how you much you are going to pay for the website, you should also consider how your customers are going to pay you. Some platforms don’t offer customers the ability to pay you through some third party service like Payoneer or PayPal and this can be frustrating on your customers as they have to sign up for a new account just to get what they want.
For the best results, look for a platform that allows payment via 3rd party payment platforms. This increases convenience for your customers and reduce the chances for them ditching their carts.
3. Mobile Optimization
The platform you will choose must be optimized for mobile devices. The reason for this is that a third of the population of Internet users today actually access the Web through their mobile devices. A good e-commerce platform will be optimize for mobile users also in the sense that they have designed the platform to quickly adjust itself when accessed through smaller screens with touch-screen interfaces.
Think of it this way: no sane person out there will want to entrust their valuable information to site that cannot assure them that such information will be safe on their site. Security is actually one of the biggest concerns amongst online businesses and platforms these days as the information you put in any of your profiles can be used against you in a number of ways not limited to stealing your money.
The e-commerce platform you will use should have layers upon layers of security for both businesses and customers as well as additional failsafes in case something goes terribly wrong. A HTTPS/SSL-supported platform, for example, can go a long way in ensuring that every transaction customers make with you are safe.
5. Customer Service
The disadvantage of e-commerce is that you actually have only a portion of control over how long your online business stays online. Sure, by design, your e-commerce business should be up on a 24/7 basis but things like server shutdowns, security leaks, and other problems can make that impossible.
Downtime is a common occurrence for online businesses but what you should be looking for is a platform whose service can make sure that your online business gets back to working order as soon as possible. Also, availability is something that you should look for as you need a service that can quickly attend to your concerns as soon as they pop up. Sure, these features can increases your expenses but you’d rather pay for a service that can get you the results that you need than a free one that takes forever to get to you, assuming that they are trying to help you.
As your online brand grows, so will your needs change. A good e-commerce platform will not force you to pay for features that you no longer need. This is what is called scaling, the platform tailoring its services to meet your needs as your business grows in the site.
For instance, your business might need to increase its storage space because the volume of orders it is taking has increased. There are platforms out there that can adjust your business’s storage capacity and other basic features to help your business keep up with the demands. Also, such scaling should not be offered to at prices that are unreasonable.
Dealing with Competition
As is in the real world, you can’t avoid dealing with competitors in the online world. After all, you can’t expect to be the sole person offering that product/service in the market, no matter what your market research is telling you.
Also, you have to remember that there are different businesses out there that may offer something different from what you have but nevertheless target the same market as you do.
If competition is unavoidable online, what can you do with it? There’s the option to learn from them. What are their strengths? In which areas are they lacking? What markets have they yet to tap? You can use this to carve your own niche in the market and stand out.
Another option is to make them a part of your network. Find out what your business can offer to them that can be beneficial for both of your businesses. Collaboration is a big thing in the online world right now as turning other business owners into potential partners and network contacts tends to put you in a more favorable position as opposed to, well, directly competing with them.
Building your brand online is an entirely different ballgame. There are new rules that you have to follow and new strategies to consider.
However, with that being said, there are still some lessons from the real world that are applicable online. For instance, you still have to be diligent here in learning all that you can about the market before venturing into here. Next, there is the fact that you should never, ever, sacrifice quality for the opportunity to earn money especially in choosing a platform to do your business in. Lastly, you should always consider how other businesses can affect your performance in the market.
If you take in lessons from older markets while learning new ones, you should be able to ensure that your business can last long in the world of e-commerce. All that is left to do then, is to turn that potential into something that is actionable and tangible.
Have you ventured into e-commerce yourself? What other strategies have you used to maintain a competitive edge in the market? Let us know in the comments section below.
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