Americans have long loved to shop. But the ways in which we do our shopping are changing, and they’re changing fast. Twenty years ago, Amazon was a relatively new company riding the infamous “Dot Com Bubble”, which later burst and sent dozens of major websites — including plenty of fledgling e-commerce sites — to their graves.
But now, e-commerce is back with a vengeance. Amazon has grown to become a trillion-dollar company, the second such company ever (following Apple). Americans are doing more and more of their shopping online, including through mobile apps, at the holidays and all throughout the year.
Giants like Amazon, Ebay, and Alibaba are raking in the cash, while smaller e-commerce sites are holding their own and growing their customer bases. In short, e-commerce is booming and showing no signs of slowing down. Here are the keys to succeeding in e-commerce.
1. Find your niche
Business may be booming, but that doesn’t mean getting started in ecommerce is easy. And to find out exactly what you need to do, we can learn from the companies that already established themselves as ecommerce success stories.
Amazon sells everything, but even it once specialized: it began life as an online bookstore. That’s because only the most massive ecommerce endeavors can afford to try to be “everything stores” right off the bat, and even with the proper backing, it’s a risky game to play. What makes more sense is finding a niche customer base that appreciates your ability to specialize. Bigger ecommerce shops may offer a little bit of everything, but discerning customers will reach out to the specialists in areas where quality really matters.
Take Bump Girl, for instance. The site specializes in a certain area: maternity dresses. With higher quality goods and customer service that understands the role of the goods in customers’ lives, it stands out in a crowded ecommerce field. For the people who need maternity clothes, a specialized company with quality products is appealing.
- How To Write An Effective E-Commerce Business Plan
- How To Set Up A Successful Online Store
- How To Write Compelling Product Descriptions To Boost Sales
- How To Make Serious Money On Amazon
- 7 Smart Strategies For Selling Products Online
- 4 Common E-Commerce Mistakes You Must Not Make
- How To Develop A Successful Digital Coupon Campaign
- How To Improve Your E-Commerce Strategy
- 5 E-Commerce Models To Choose From
- How To Stay Competitive In The E-Commerce Industry
- 5 Must-Have Extensions For WooCommerce
2. Master SEO (or pay someone else to do it for you)
Picture this: you have a perfect product that will appeal to a niche customer base. You have quality goods and affordable shipping, and you’re ready to become the go-to source for your would-be customers. Your potential customers grab their computers or phones, search for products like yours, and — well, then what?
If you have great SEO (search engine optimization), then they’ll find you. If not, then not so much. Like it or not, search engines like Google and Bing are the gatekeepers of the internet, and even the most promising ecommerce startups need great SEO in order to survive.
Need a success story for this? You can provide your own: just search for something that you want right now. It could be a pizza or it could be a book, whatever you feel like getting. See the ecommerce sites near the top? See the local options? How about the pins in the search engine’s map of your hometown? You’re seeing the results of great SEO, and your business needs that too.
- 11 Reasons SEO Is Crucial For Business Growth
- 5 Things You Need To Know About SEO
- 7 SEO Techniques For Fashion Brands And Blogs
- 5 SEO Tools Every Online Business Owner Should Have
3. Build a brand
If your goal is to sell your own goods online, then you need to convince customers to buy those goods and not the stuff available through competitor websites. At the core of this is a business problem that’s older than the internet. And the solutions are older, too: you need a product that is in demand, especially to the niche customer base we’ve already talked about; and you need a brand that consumers trust.
For example, you’ve likely heard of The North Face. They’re one of the more successful ecommerce businesses, but they didn’t get there just by winning SEO battles. Search for “ski jacket” or “hiking jacket” and you’ll find competitors like REI and Columbia. Those companies do well too, but North Face more than holds its own. Why? Because it is a brand with fans who are willing to seek it out.
Build your brand by obsessing over quality — nobody is going to choose you over super-cheap Amazon unless you can offer something special. Invest in great branding and logos, and market your stuff with SEO and other digital marketing techniques.
And don’t feel like you have to go right to build your own website: selling goods in a brick-and-mortar shop or via Amazon is a great way to get off the ground. The North Face sells goods through online marketplaces and even outdoor specialty stores that are, in some ways, its competitors. And that’s the right move for them, just as it will be for you.
- 5 Essential Ways To Brand Your Business
- How To Brand Your New Business
- How To Build A Brand That Lasts
- How To Build Your Personal Brand
- 5 Ways To Use Social Media To Build Your Personal Brand
- 5 Ways To Create A Tailor-Made Customer Experience
- 7 Social Media Branding Tips