The most obvious place to start with your e-commerce business would be to build your website, but before that, take just five minutes to think about your business idea. Why are you starting the business? Is it an area you are passionate about, or are you taking advantage of an opportunity you have spotted?
Keep it simple
When starting an e-commerce business, your website is quite obviously critical and choosing the right e-commerce provider is often a challenge. However, you don’t need to blow your budgets at this stage. Many e-commerce start-ups make the mistake of over-engineering their requirements, making their website become expensive and often unaffordable.
At this stage, there are many acceptable start-up e-commerce packages that can help you get your business off the group quickly and at little cost. Prove your business model without re-mortgaging your house, and if it takes off, you can consider investing more in a more suitable tailored e-commerce solution later. If you are able to compete on price, then consider starting off on eBay or Amazon – there are almost no barriers to entry and they give you the opportunity to test the market with little or no risk.
Cut back where appropriate
Whilst you don’t need a fully-featured, bespoke e-commerce solution from day one, you do need to make sure you only cut back where appropriate. Many start-ups try to keep costs to a minimum. However, this isn’t always the best approach to take, and cutting corners can make your business look unprofessional and untrustworthy. The two main areas which probably aren’t worth cutting back on are:
- Website design and development. I mentioned this earlier, there are some good start-up packages out there that will help your business look professional and will save a lot of time on trying to do this yourself.
- Bank integration. Don’t mess with the banks. Get this wrong and they could shut down your business. Leave it to the pro’s!
- Phones. Ever tried to call a company and got a dead line or no answer? If customers can’t reach you, they probably won’t spend their hard-earned cash with you either.
However, there are plenty of areas that you can outsource to reduce overheads and minimize financial risk, such as accounting, bookkeeping, warehousing and logistics.
Build and they will come?
Sadly not… so once you have your e-commerce business set-up, you need to think long and hard about how to drive potential customers to your website. There are a mind-blowing number of opportunities out there, so I’ve highlighted just a couple of easy and affordable options that can help give your business a kick start:
- Search marketing – Pay Per Click. Outsourcing to an agency probably isn’t within your reach from day one, so take a course in PPC and analytics and tackle this yourself. PPC is a great way to instantly drive traffic to your website and gives you a big boost in the early days. Keep a very close eye on performance and regularly review and optimize your campaigns. Once your business has built enough momentum you can then consider outsourcing your search marketing to an e-commerce PPC specialist.
- Start local. Tell everyone you know about your business and ask them to tell everyone they know. Don’t underestimate the power of local advertising and word of mouth; particularly when social media now plays such a huge part of our everyday lives.