Jack Bishop
Jack Bishop 27 January 2014
Categories Ecommerce

From Idea to Reality: How to Make Your New Ecommerce Website a Success

Succeeding as an e-commerce startup can be one of the hardest kinds of business success to come by.

Every e-commerce startup owner needs a personal trainer (for his business)


Many startup experts use a marathon analogy to show startup entrepreneurs how difficult getting a startup e-commerce business off the ground can be. Since competition in the e-commerce space tends to be tough, the marathon analogy can be particularly appropriate. You need to stick with your business for years. Just as competitive marathon runners always have a personal trainer guiding them, startup entrepreneurs need a trainer or mentor, too.


A competent and engaged mentor with knowledge of the industry and experience running a startup can be an invaluable resource to look to when you make mistakes. Perhaps you don’t showcase your products properly or perhaps you favor the wrong e-commerce platform. If you are inexperienced, you can take too much time recognizing the signs of a problem.


It makes no sense to simply blunder on by yourself because you are too embarrassed to admit that you don’t have the answers. It can be difficult to succeed as an inexperienced e-commerce startup without some expert guidance.


Underestimating how much hard work is involved in getting an e-commerce site off the ground


The e-commerce business is easy to enter - it just takes a drop-shipping agreement and a working website. Getting one off the ground and making it a self-sustaining enterprise requires extreme levels of commitment, though. Many e-commerce entrepreneurs fall by the wayside because they don’t realize that an Internet business is not mostly conducted on the Internet. It is conducted on the ground - by networking with people, getting financing and putting deals together.


For instance, to know what makes an effective website design for your specific audience, you need to do considerable market research among your customer base. To evaluate how to get your e-commerce website to rank on Google, you need to learn a good deal about search engine optimization. To find out what kind of return policy your customers will appreciate, you need to study the competition. A startup e-commerce entrepreneur needs to be in multiple places at the same time.


You need a business plan


You can’t expect that if you build a great product, your customers will somehow find you. Thebuild it and they will come strategy only works when you don’t have much competition. You need a business plan and a marketing strategy to succeed at e-commerce just as you do in any other business.


A business plan doesn’t necessarily have to be the detailed package of business scenario descriptions that investors ask you to show them. It can also be the personal set of ideas that you build in your mind to get a feel for your business. Your business plan needs to tell you the following.


.   You need to know your competition in great detail, having spent a lot of time researching them both formally and informally.


.   You should know your target customers intimately, having spent months getting to personally know them.


.   You must know to combine the above two - to stand apart from the competition in a way that will make you appealing to your target customers.


.   You need to make up your mind about what your business positioning is to be - do you wish to offer the best possible deal, the best possible quality or innovative ideas?


You need to find the right shopping cart


In currently accepted e-commerce terminology, a shopping cart is the full e-commerce platform that an e-commerce business uses to get itself online. It includes the content management system that displays your products, a checkout system, a payments processing system, a blogging platform and so on. In short, it’s the entire suite of software services that a business needs to make its products available online. Basing your e-commerce attempt on the wrong shopping cart can hamstring you from the start.


Two basic choices exist - the hosted route and the locally installed route. The locally installed route is meant for businesses that have the technical capacity to manage a complex software platform on their own. It does offer the best flexibility, though. Many entrepreneurs make the mistake of choosing this route simply because it’s supposed to be "the best". Only later do they discover the kind of complexity that’s involved. Services like Shopify offer high-quality hosted solutions that let entrepreneurs concentrate on the part of that’s most important - getting their business off the ground. Shopify has great e-commerce guide resources to help you understand the choice between hosted and locally installed software, too.


In conclusion...


While the news is full of e-commerce startup success stories, it’s important to remember that you only get to be successful at this business if you are willing to completely dedicate yourself to it. It’s important to not think of great success when you’re just starting out. Rather, you simply need to think of how much you love doing what you’re doing.

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