Ecommerce Business- Da Vinci code.
In layman’s definition, Ecommerce is the modern way of reaching out to your customers and doing business with them.
The pandemic has accelerated the process of digitization in various sectors and today in the era of lockdowns and social distancing, this medium i.e. e-commerce has emerged as a winner.
This article is my attempt to narrate my personal challenges that I have encountered myself to scale eCommerce websites and my learnings from undergoing the whole grind process.
My failures & my lessons….
First and foremost, let me clear some myths to set the narrative of the content.
Myth one – Ecommerce is very easy to set up and you can start earning immediately.
On a daily basis, I come across my retail fraternity friends who consider setting up an e-commerce business- the easiest thing to do on the planet.
Yes, it might be easy to develop an eCommerce enabled website but believe me, the toughest part is to get the traction and organic traffic onto the site.
The average conversion rate for e-commerce sites is less than 3%, so driving relevant traffic to your site is crucial.
E-commerce has exploded, meaning there’s more fierce competition now than ever before which makes getting the customer buy onto your platform more and more challenging.
Myth two – Ecommerce website is the easiest and fastest to break-even when it comes to profitability.
This myth may or may not be true and it depends solely on the category that you are selling.
Yes, in case of innovative product categories, the statement may turn out to be true. For example, Tesla, being a revolutionary & Innovative car ‘ clean energy’ concept, disrupted the entire traditional value chain consisting of dealers and authorized showrooms, etc by going directly to the end-user through digital channels, wherein an end-user can book his/her test drive and order a Tesla car online at a click of a mouse.
They created an online buying experience for their customers.
Myth three- I need technical personnel to help me set up an eCommerce business
This is one of the most myopic statements or reasons, I come across during various panel discussions.
You do need a team of technical people specializing in the platform on which you want to build your eCommerce business.
The most important person that you need is A STRATEGIST, who can visualize and identify the trends in the business and the one who understands the technology but most importantly understands the end-user or the CUSTOMER.
The techies often lack this core skill.
10 Must do’s in order to get immediate traction for your eCommerce business.
Start small with your eCommerce business
This applies to new startups or first timers only.
Not applicable to huge brick & mortar businesses wherein the speed of scaling is of utmost importance.
You have to walk before you can run.
There’s no short cut way to go from a small store to behemoth overnight.
The right strategy is planning to scale up over time, addressing key areas for growth before making any major leaps.
This way you can create your own audience or customer base who will trust you and your site.
Launch with limited products.
Most of the entrepreneurs believe in “Variety is the spice of Life” which does not hold its essence in the digital business.
Pareto principle (80/20 rule) is more relevant in digital businesses than before. Only selected merchandise and categories will get you revenue or sales traction.
The challenge is to find out those variants or lines contributing the most to your overall sales.
Today we have tools like enterprise software (in case of huge corporations going for eCommerce) wherein you can in real-time track the traffic on to your site and check the cart-abandonment rate or bounce off rate including the inventory status.
Various plugins are now available to check the keywords which are driving traffic to your website.
Once you know the keywords driving traffic on the site & resulting in the sales of certain products or categories;
Use various creative formats for one piece of communication by using A/B testing plugins or tools.
This will help you overcome creative fatigue which is very high in the eCommerce business.
You can then scale your eCommerce business by leveraging on the already built strengths.
Learn how you can compete with Amazon, in case you are a brick & mortar retailer, click here
Grow your customer base using customer service.
Using PPC and organic AdWords, and SEO tools you can scale your eCommerce site in few months itself, however, the make or break of your eCommerce site is your customer service.
As a small web company, you may be getting 1 or 2 complaints out of 1000 customers that are visiting your site but as you scale up the chances of complaints are also higher maybe 100 out of 10,000 customers that you are now catering to.
You need to create a specialized call center for complaint redressal system with well-defined policies.
The first step in providing excellent customer service is to ask questions and provide feedback. The best way is to get in touch with a live human on the other end of a phone line and get a first-hand review or feedback of your rendered services.
Make your goods return policy, customer-friendly, even it may initially burn a hole in your pocket, but in the long term will build trust for your eCommerce business.
Focus on your last-mile deliveries:
The majority of the complaints in an eCommerce business arises from the lapses in the last mile delivery process.
Issues like picking up the wrong item or breakage during the delivery process are the most common.
Learn more about the last mile, click here.
The biggest problem with eCommerce entrepreneurs is that they get involved in fulfilling the orders themselves.
Once you have reached a quantum of orders, it is advisable to outsource the fulfillment of orders to the third party partner, so that you can focus on generating more and more orders.
That’s what I call a “focused approach”.
Find your eCommerce site Niche.
Distinguishing yourself from your competitors is crucial to standing out and attracting new customers for your business.
This can be accomplished by making sure your website looks professional and is optimized correctly to suit today’s Google algorithm.
By providing a unique product or service, you can focus on a smaller demographic, making it easier for you to increase your domain authority.
Use Influencers to promote your eCommerce business
For fashion & lifestyle businesses, influencer marketing works very well.
Nowadays, microbloggers with a limited number of followers are proving very effective.
Choosing the right metrics is of the key importance here,
- Don’t go for the number of followers, engagements, and comments, etc. (they can be extrapolated).
- Leverage sales generated per influencer as the correct metric for judging any influencer.
Basically, understanding your audience is key to figuring out which marketing channel will generate traffic that actually converts into sales.
Social commerce is the next big thing.
Ecommerce retailers have long used social media to advertise and promote their products.
But in recent years, social shopping has evolved to allow customers to make purchases from right within their favorite social media sites and apps.
This has shortened the buying process and improved the overall customer experience, so retailers will want to lean into social shopping in 2020.
Both Facebook and Instagram have launched shops to target small & medium enterprises.
Learn how to leverage social commerce, click here.
Offer Multiple Payment Options on your e-commerce site
The world is moving away from cash and cards, and especially when it comes to online shopping.
Digital wallets like Apple Pay, Google Pay, PayPal, (UPI, and Paytm for Indian Territory).
But if a shopper doesn’t see their preferred digital payment method at checkout, they’re likely to abandon the process.
The challenge for retailers is the sheer variety of digital payment platforms that already exist, and adding the new platforms onto their eCommerce site.
Product descriptions are outdated- Videos are trending.
Recent studies suggest that 60 percent of shoppers would rather watch a video about a product than read a description of its features and uses.
If you want your website to translate into cash then adding comprehensive videos to their product pages, including how to use the product, why a customer needs it, will help your customer to overcome their hesitations and it acts as a call to action.
Be more visible
I always profess the statement “Create your own audience”.
Make your products available on marketplace websites, amazon, etc will add more weightage to your eCommerce business since it will give your business some kind of credibility and trust.
To sum up, the article, running an eCommerce business is very exciting as you discover new trends, new customer’s behaviors, new tech highlights but it is at the same time quite challenging.
It is definitely not the quickest way to make your millions.
Enter only if you have a long term business plan and you are eager to learn the overall process.
Digital or eCommerce business is full of testing and experimentations, enter if you have patience and persistence to last longer in the game.
In case if any of my retail fraternity members, want to learn from my experience of setting up retail commerce solutions for their businesses, then feel free to reach out to me on firstname.lastname@example.org.
I strongly believe in helping my retail fraternity members and enabling them to succeed in the fierce marketplace.
About the author:
Ritesh Mohan is a passionate retail professional with over 20 years in the Retail sector, handling some of the biggest brands in beauty, fashion, and fragrances retail & FMCG sector. He has been instrumental in the growth of some of the regional brands as well in the Middle East region. Ritesh specializes in Retail management, Product development, and Brand Management, Retail Operations, Sales Management and Franchising & Business Management. He strongly believes in empowering business owners with his wisdom & experience of around two decades in the industry.