Buying products over the internet has become an increasingly popular method of business in recent years. Over the last 10 years, e-commerce has grown by almost 10% in the United States alone. If you are interested in starting an e-commerce business for yourself, it can be very profitable. Read on to find out what you need to do in order to build your first e-commerce site!
Determine your Niche
There is so much activity happening online that it can be difficult to find an opportunity to break in. The trick is to find an opportunity that hasn’t been capitalized on and target your skills or product to that particular audience. When you narrow down your product or service line, it is called micro-niche marketing. By doing this, you are specifying products that customers desire and cannot easily find elsewhere. Take your time on this step and research areas of the market that will remain profitable for many years to come.
Once you have decided what you will be selling, you will need to plan how you will acquire it. If you are selling products that you make yourself, you will still need to find a way to source the raw materials. There are many supplier directories that you can search for online. Alternatively, start attending trade shows. Meeting vendors who work in your industry will give you an edge up on the competition. You will be able to form a personal connection with the suppliers, which could result in discounts on materials. Once you have a list of potential suppliers narrowed down, call them or pay them a visit to find out if you would work well together. Be sure to ask them questions relating to their payment terms, shipping costs, and missing order policies.
Register your Domain Name
You are now at the point where you can start thinking about your website itself. It is important to select a domain name that tells your customers what you provide. If you are selling electronics, make sure to allude to that in your domain name. Otherwise, you will need to spend more money on branding and marketing to inform consumers of what you are selling. If you are having trouble deciding on a name, there are many domain naming tools online at your disposal.
Once you have your domain name selected, you will need to register it. Choose an accredited domain register to ensure you are doing everything by the book. You will need to pay fees in order to get your domain name up and running.
Having a hosted e-commerce platform will help you succeed in the world of business. You can find a web host that will offer you a shared, VPS, or dedicated hosting package. Shared hosting involves many other websites using the same server and resources as you. It tends to be the more cost-efficient option. VPS is when your website will be using a larger part of the server. You will still have others sharing the server, but it will be much fewer as compared to a shared hosting platform. Dedicated is the next option. This is when your website will be on a server by itself. It will have access to all the resources and will not have to share any. In addition to this, you will also be able to select whether you want a managed or an unmanaged hosting package. Having a managed web hosting platform will ensure that the daily operations of the site and the maintenance and updates that are required will be taken care of. If your website were to crash unexpectedly, for example, your web hosting provider would quickly locate the issue and solve it.
Unmanaged web hosting involves the business owner getting involved in taking care of the server and operating system. This option is geared towards more tech-savvy individuals, or who have businesses that are already well-established, as this would leave them more time to manage the website.
Now that your e-commerce business is up and running, it is time to let customers know about you. One of the first things that you can do is create an email list. You can host a giveaway or offer a discount on your website for customers to claim. In order to receive their prize, they will need to submit their email address. You can advertise your website and the perks you offer on your social media account and ask your friends to share it. Once you have a list of email addresses, these are the warm leads that you will be working with. Send out the occasional email containing updates regarding new products and coupons.
You will also need to stay on top of your customer service reputation. If customers are coming to you with questions or concerns, it is your responsibility to address them as soon as possible. You could create a forum on your website for your customers to congregate and communicate with. This will help them find answers to their questions, and it will allow you the opportunity to keep an eye on what customers are saying about you and how to improve.