What Startups Need to Do to Become Successful in Online Retail

Ecommerce is one of the fastest evolving markets in the world. According to some recent reports, it is supposed to grow up to $27 trillion by 2020.

It doesn’t matter if you’re working from your garage or a fancy office, setting up an ecommerce store has never been simpler for startups.

However, you need to know that you’re not the only one understanding the potential of this way of making money. There are thousands of other startups implementing this strategy, as well.

So, how to survive in such a competitive landscape?

Let’s find out.

Research the Industry You’re about to Enter

You need to understand the market demands, see who your major competitors are, as well as find your target audience. This form of research allows you to form retail partnerships, offer competitive prices, tailor your products to your customers’ needs, and provide exceptional customer services.

Familiarize yourself with your niche.

You need to know how big the market is and how fast it is expanding/shrinking. Collect this information from multiple sources, such as local government data, trade publications, research hubs, and trade journals. Pay attention to the case studies done by authoritative companies, as well.

Analyze your major competitors.

You need to figure out what their strengths and weaknesses are. How many customers do they have? How many people do they hire? How satisfied are their consumers with their products? What marketing techniques do they use and how do they invest in user experience? How competitive are their prices? These are just some questions you need to answer to gain a competitive advantage.

Identify your target audience.

To offer a highly personalized user experience to your customers, you first need to know who they are. Segment them and collect the demographic data, such as their age, sex, location, and education. Social networks can be your invaluable asset in this process. They will also give you an insight into your customers’ personality, preferences, values, expectations, and problems.

Choose the Right Ecommerce Platform

Once you do your research, you need to set up your ecommerce site. And, there are a few effective ways to do so.

You can sell your products on customer experience platforms such as eBay or Amazon. Now, even though these platforms are incredibly popular, it will be difficult for you to set yourself apart from a bunch of other businesses selling similar products out there.

This is why you need to consider setting up an independent ecommerce store. But, how to know which ecommerce platform is suitable for you? Well, first you need to understand what types of platforms there are:

On-premise ecommerce platforms such as nopCommerce are implemented locally, on your hardware and are managed by your IT staff. Even though they are easy to customize, they require a significant upfront investment. Not to mention the cost of regular checkups and maintenance.

SaaS platforms like Shopify, Volusion or Big Commerce are more affordable, as they’re paid on the subscription basis. Most importantly, the vendor is responsible for your hosting, maintenance, upgrades, and security.  

Open-source platforms like Magento or OpenCart are free and they allow you to install, configure, and protect your store on your own servers. To use them, you need to have at least some basic technical experience in web development and design. You can also sign up for a platform like 2Easy and find ecommerce programmers to do all the hard work for you.  

Invest in your Visibility on Google

All your rivals are using digital marketing to drive traffic to their sites. So, to cut through this online noise and grab your customers’ attention, you need to rank as high as possible on Google.

For starters, build an extensive SEO strategy.

Do a detailed keyword research and target only those keywords that can attract the right people and help you drive quality traffic.  There are numerous tools like SEMrush Keyword Magic Tool, Moz Keyword Planner, or Ahrefs Keywords Explorer that will help you do so.

Optimize your site for these keywords. Implement them into all important elements of your site, such as your blog posts, product pages, meta tags, URLs, etc. Make sure your keywords are added naturally and that they make sense to both search engines and your users.

Of course, SEO is highly intertwined with content marketing.

So, launch a company blog and start publishing top-quality content.

Keep in mind that you’re not writing content for SEO purposes solely. You’re doing so to prove your authority in your niche, establish a trustworthy brand, and bring true value to your readers. Make sure your posts are informative and relevant. Experiment with different forms of content to drive more leads and conversions. Apart from traditional articles, try your luck with infographics, lengthy guides, case studies, quizzes, or explainer videos.

You should do some off-page SEO, as well.

Find authoritative sites in your niche and publish your guest articles there. You could also take advantage of some other link building practices, such as broken link building, working with influencers, link reclamation, getting links from resource pages, and so on.

Offer an Outstanding User Experience

We’re living in a hyperconnected era, where your customer is the one deciding your fate. By writing just one tweet or a Facebook review, they can let everyone know how satisfied they are with your website, customer services, or products. Precisely because of this, you need to provide them with the impeccable user experience.

Make your site responsive

Google has rolled out their mobile-first index. So, to cater to both desktop and mobile users, invest in responsive website design. Here is what this means:

  • Speed up your site by switching to HTTPS, reducing JS, HTML and CSS, enabling browser caching, enabling file compression, etc. To boost your site’s speed on mobile devices you should consider implementing Google’s AMPs.
  • Your website navigation should be simple and logical.
  • Make your content easy-to-follow. Instead of making your readers scroll through it, offer expendable paragraphs.
  • Make your forms easy to fill out.
  • Add an easily visible search box.
  • Make your payment options more prominent.
  • Place all important information and elements, such as your shopping cart, pricing, offers, or shipping above the fold.

Behavioral targeting is a must

Turning your leads into your customers is difficult. You cannot force them into buying from you. You need to inspire them to do so. Therefore, give them something valuable, something they are really interested in.

And, in the world of online businesses, it’s not that difficult. You just need to keep track of your users’ previous interactions with your site- what they searched for, what they purchased, what they intended to buy before they abandoned the shopping cart- and tailor your offers and content to them.

That’s what Amazon does with their customized pages. They create them for each of their visitors, based on what they were looking for on their site before.

Just make sure you don’t offer the same stuff over and over again. Provide your customers with something fresh every time they visit you.

Give them Real-Time Support

Today, using emails or phone calls to boost your customer services is not enough. Statistics show that 67% of your customers turn to social networks to look for advice or help. Furthermore, the majority of them expect your response in less than an hour.

This is why you need to monitor your social networks regularly. Parallel with your inbox messages, pay attention to your brand and product mentions. There is a plethora of social media monitoring tools that will notify you whenever someone mentions you. This way, you will be able to participate in your customers’ discussions and help them solve any problems in real-time.

Measure your Performance

Now that your ecommerce site is up and running doesn’t mean it’s time to sit back and relax. On the contrary, you need to monitor your store’s performance regularly. There are numerous significant KPIs you need to keep track of, including the shopping cart abandonment, the bounce rates, the conversion rates, the lifetime value of the customer, the average order value, the percentage of returning customers, and so on.

By staying on top of this information, you will manage to pinpoint the fields of your strategy that require instantaneous attention.

Hope this helps!

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