90% of startup businesses fail. And a significant part of these numbers can be traced back to eCommerce stores that opened with high ambitions but were forced to close down because they couldn’t attract enough customers.
With fierce competition in most industries, including having to compete with global giants like Amazon or Walmart, small eCommerce stores have a tall task trying to get started, especially when they don’t have a solid reputation to rely on and have to prove themselves to each prospective customer.
However, even though the competition might be tough, thousands of eCommerce stores are taking off each year, some of which even dominating their markets shortly after launch. This type of success comes down to knowing exactly what to do before the launch, and how to make the most out of the first crucial months that usually determine whether the business can sustain itself.
So, to help you get started and make sure that you have the best chance of success, let’s explore some of the essential factors of launching an eCommerce store that every entrepreneur must consider.
Who Is Your Ideal Customer?
An eCommerce store without an audience to sell to is little more than just another website on the internet. Sure, you may have buy buttons and a checkout option, but if you don’t know who you want to attract, none of it will matter.
Therefore, before you start looking for the best eCommerce platform or thinking about the product range that you want to include, you need to sit down and identify the ideal customer that you want to attract and cater to.
Many novice entrepreneurs make the mistake of trying to sell to a broad audience, thinking that this will provide them with more opportunities to make sales. But unfortunately, unless you want to compete with Amazon (which you probably don’t), your best route is to specialize as much as possible and offer a unique experience that no one else is providing.
That way, even though the size of your potential client pool might be smaller, their interest in your store will much stronger, helping you separate yourself from others, no matter how competitive the marketplace might be.
To begin, think about who would be the ideal person that your products could help. For instance, if you’re selling running shoes, consider narrowing it down further and selling them to active young women who exercise regularly and are looking for high-quality shoes and accessories to improve their performance.
Once you have a basic idea of who the ideal customer might be, flesh them out on paper as much as possible. Who are they? How old are they? What are their interests? Where do they hang out online and offline? What’s their job and schedule like? How much are they willing to pay for what you have to offer?
These and countless other questions will help you get a much clearer picture of your customer base. They will also give you specific ideas on how to position your products, create a brand, and run your marketing campaigns.
What is Your Brand About?
Branding is at the very heart of any successful eCommerce business. Without a strong brand, you’d be little more than a faceless store, which would make convincing anyone to buy something almost impossible.
The reason why people choose to buy from smaller stores and not Amazon or other giants is usually not about price – it’s only natural that large multi-national corporations will have better margins and more competitive pricing.
Instead, people buy from small stores because of the exclusive products that they offer and the unique brand experience that they provide for their customers.
There’s a reason why people are willing to pay a premium for brands like Apple, Nike, or Mercedes-Benz – it’s not just about the quality of the products that they produce but also about the reputation and the brand identity that people want to associate with.
So, as a growing online business, your main goal should be to establish a brand identity as quickly as possible. And you won’t be able to do that by being careful.
You need to be willing to make your brand different, bold, and truly unique in your marketplace. Your brand must also encompass values and ideas that your audience can relate to, projecting them through compelling stories and experiences of people just like your buyers.
When people associate with your brand, it should not only be about the products but also about how they feel when buying from you, knowing that it’s a representation of who they are.
If you performed thorough audience research, you should have a pretty good idea of how you can position your brand. But you should also look into your current competitive landscape and look for ideas and differentiation points to focus on.
Once you have a good understanding of what your brand should look like, it won’t matter if you use tools like a free online logo maker or simple website themes. You will know how to use simple elements to create a powerful image that your audience responds to.
Is Your Website Trustworthy?
Even though many factors contribute to the success of an eCommerce store, in the end, it comes down to one thing: will your site’s visitors trust you enough to buy from you?
Consumer trust plays a vital role in eCommerce, and you must take all of the necessary steps to make your shoppers feel safe.
First off, look at what impression your site leaves in the first few seconds of the visit, as those brief moments will usually determine whether a prospective buyer will click away or start browsing your selection.
Some of the absolute bare minimum basics include having an SSL certificate, using a mobile-friendly and responsive design, and ensuring that your website loads fast and doesn’t have any glaring issues.
Having strong brand elements across your site is also an integral part of getting your customers to trust you. When shopping online, people are looking for transparency and things that they can identify with, so a strong brand personality that shines through all of your design elements and copywriting will go a long way in getting people to trust that you will deliver on your promises.
To make transparency on your site even more prominent, you could use a simple WordPress Table of Contents plugin to structure your FAQs, guidelines, how to’s, and any other relevant information that can help answer common questions and figure out the best buying options.
Finally, make sure that you use plenty of social proof elements, as they are an indispensable part of selling online.
Having reviews of each product on the listing pages is essential, but you should also have more generic testimonials from happy customers that talk about the positive experiences of buying from you and how your products helped people overcome their problems.
If you can, enhance these testimonials with pictures and real names, which will add a lot more credibility and help prospective buyers associate with the people behind them.