Even the prospect of launching your first e-commerce site can be exciting. There are so many choices and opportunities in front of you, not to mention the possibility of finding a new revenue stream that can continue for years without forcing you to spend long hours at the desk.
There is more to building a profitable online store, though, than simply choosing an e-commerce template and watching the profits roll in. To help you get a sense of what the most successful Internet entrepreneurs know, here are four things to keep in mind before you launch your first (or next) online store:
1. Most products really don’t sell themselves. Occasionally, we meet with would-be entrepreneurs and e-commerce site owners who think they’ve stumbled upon the one product that's virtually guaranteed to go viral and bring them huge profits in a short amount of time. Even if that were possible, it's likely you'd be facing some pretty stiff competition in no time at all. The reality is that it is relatively easy to spread the word about great products and services online, but you still need a strong Internet marketing plan to get the ball rolling.
2. Trust matters. Trust is incredibly important to e-commerce for a couple of reasons. First, if searchers and shoppers don't trust you or your site, they aren't going to enter in their credit card information and complete a purchase. And second, if you don't build trust over time by following through on your promises and guarantees, then no one is going to trust you going forward.
With that in mind, it's important to build trust by putting visible reminders of your business associations, e-commerce verifications, and other credentials on your e-commerce site. Then, make service and transparency a top priority to get the reviews and reputation you need.
3. You’ll have to work to get (and keep) customers. One of the reasons that e-commerce is getting tougher is that search engine optimization and pay-per-click advertising are more competitive than ever. That means you're going to have to work hard or spend money (and possibly both) to win your first few customers. After that, you'll have to keep them coming for great products, top service, fast shipping, or low prices… and possibly a combination of a few of those factors.
4. E-commerce is all about efficiency. The most successful online stores aren't always the flashiest or most popular. Instead, they are the ones that continually refine their marketing and budgeting approaches, working one percentage at a time, slowly but gradually improving their financial picture. Whether your store is a hit from the day it launches or takes a while to gain momentum, never fall into the trap of being satisfied with what you have.
Make no mistake: You can grow a popular and profitable online store, often in less time than you would think. But, it's going to take a little bit of imagination, a lot of hard work, and the right e-commerce design team on your side.