How to Start an Ecommerce Business During a Time of Crisis
Online shopping has become one of the most popular activities in the digital world. Ecommerce has been booming as a result.
The total value of global eCommerce sales in 2019 amounted to US$3.53 trillion. That was 14.1% of the total retail sales worldwide. The projection is that eCommerce sales worldwide will reach US$6.54 trillion by 2023.
In the US alone, e-commerce sales revenue in 2019 amounted to US$356,424 million. With 246.9 million users, the average revenue per user in the US in 2019 amounted to US$1443.88.
Use the Crisis as an Opportunity: Start an Ecommerce Business
As the world goes through an unprecedented crisis in 2020, eCommerce has emerged to be more feasible than any other form of business. We can go a step further and say that eCommerce is almost the only form of business that’s holding up.
Even after adjusting growth forecasts to the impact of the current pandemic, the forecast for eCommerce in the US is a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 6.1% until 2024.
The total sales value of e-commerce in 2024 is projected to be US$ 493,071 million by 2024, after adjusting the pandemic impact.
An entrepreneur with drive can use the current crisis as an opportunity and start an eCommerce online business right now.
The tips we present will help you take the plunge. And, be successful.
Remember Step Zero
A website, riveting products display, customer service to leave your customers with their jaws open … These are the images that come to mind.
All of these are important. However, there’s a step before all of that. That’s what we call step zero. Within that, we include the following:
- Decide on what you want to sell. If you already know, fair enough. Then you start a step ahead. If you don’t, then remember the following:
- Do your internet research to check what is selling at the moment. Home wellness equipment, for instance, is sought after as gyms stay shut.
Everything that is mobility-dependent – fashion accessories, cameras, luggage, and so on – has little demand right now.
Use social media platforms and social selling sites to get an idea about which products and/or services to focus on.
- One of the smartest ideas to launch an eCommerce business amid the crisis could be to offer a service you can provide on your own. Like an online tutorial.
Demand for online services is on an all-time high. It’s a good time to offer your coaching skills.
- Conduct your little opinion poll. Design a questionnaire and send it across to as many friends, family members, and acquaintances you can.
The focus of your questionnaire should be on checking the product need, and the kind of customer service they expect.
Incidentally, this is also how you can create your niche of committed customers to start with. Remember that business experts advise going narrow and deep to start with, rather than wide and broad. That comes later.
- If your business plan involves other stakeholders beyond yourself, strengthen those relationships. Suppliers and delivery partners, for example. Assess their capacity. Execute partnership agreements.
Dropshipping is a viable plan to start. That implies you don’t need to bother about the delivery. The supplier is in charge of that. You receive orders and keep a percentage. You pass on the order and the agreed price to the supplier.
- Formulate your Plan B. You may never need it, but it is good practice to have one. If your supply and/or delivery partners fail, you need to be prepared to keep your business going.
Remember that for the dropshipping model, diverse products and supplier base works best.
- While you are at it, read up a bit on online business models. Don’t study the eCommerce giants. Look for other eCommerce businesses that have been around for a while. Try and gather information on:
- One product category or diverse? Which model is doing better?
- Dropshipping or direct supply? Which is performing better?
- What payment options are they offering?
- Which social media channels are they using to advertise their products?
- Don’t miss checking out the Facebook library. You have no idea the kind of insights you can get.
Step One Contains A Lot
This is not sequential. You can start taking care of these components even while you complete the preparatory steps.
Set Up Your Ecommerce Store
This is one of the easier steps to take. There are several readymade solutions you can access. Each one has its pros and cons. Check them out:
- Shopify: The best eCommerce platform according to many, but we advise you to check out for yourself.
- Big Commerce: Check out for industry-specific choices
- Weebly: Exceptionally good for small businesses, some say.
- Magento: One of the best open-source eCommerce platforms, in terms of robustness and features. Check it out.
- Wix: One of the simplest to use, say reviews.
Other readymade solutions are also available. This will not be one of your stumbling blocks.
However, when you choose which platform to go with, check for these features beyond the design templates:
- Mobile responsiveness
- Multichannel integration options
- Product, order, and return management systems
- Payment option integration
- SEO friendliness
- Customer support
A word of caution: don’t wait for the perfect storefront. Perfection is a mirage. As human beings we are finite, remember. Launch your eCommerce store even if it doesn’t look perfect to you. You can keep improving it.
Doublecheck Your Product/s and/or Services
You have to wow your customers from the word go. You can improve your storefront later – but not your customer experience. Give your first set of customers the best possible experience.
A critical point to remember in this context is that a customer is a customer. Family members and friends may order once or twice to show solidarity with your venture. If their experience isn’t good, they won’t continue.
On the other hand, if your initial clients enjoy their experience, they will become your unpaid ambassadors. Known to you personally or not – the more you can engage your customers, the better it is for your business, say experts.
Keep Profit in Mind from the Start
If your first sale amounts to US$10 only, make sure that you spend US$9 and keep a dollar for yourself. Unless you calculate your prices this way, you will be starting on the wrong foot.
You may wonder why we are suggesting profit when everyone else seems to suggest coupons and discounts. Offer coupons and discounts by all means. Not without that one dollar for yourself, we say.
Your business strategy will go haywire otherwise. Business is about profits at the end of the day. History shows that it is a poor business practice to start without a focus on that.
Keep Customer Service in Focus
Not getting ready answers to queries is one of the major reasons for cart abandonment. Set up a robust customer response mechanism from the very beginning.
This where your initial research will come in handy. Draw lessons from the responses to that email you had sent out to acquaintances, friends, and family members.