As a passionate entrepreneur, everybody has this question. Where do I start?
The question doesn't end there. How do I start, how much money will it cost, will I be successful, Is there a market and demand, how much time should I spent.. and the list goes on and on.
There are lots of inspiring ecommerce success stories. Check out the Forbes article. If they can do it, you can as well. You can start small and you don't have to leave your current job.
If you wanted to be successful in the ecommerce business, you need to build a brand. You need to be authentic. You need to have a vision and a purpose. Every brand makes a promise.
This is exactly were you start. Spend time on thinking what kind of brand you want to build. We decided to focus on building a kids boutique. We wanted it to be unique and tell a story.
For every ecommerce business, there are 3 pillars to focus on
1. Identifying your niche.
2. Build an email list.
3. Drive traffic to the website.
Let me go deeper into each of these areas
1. Identifying your niche - In the beginning stages, a brand has to differentiate from all its competitors. For example, If you start a company selling clothes, you cant differentiate with companies who are already in your space for the last 10+ years. You need to focus on a niche area for customers to remember you. When a customer thinks about a specific category, they should think about your brand. You should spend your first few months trying to experiment on what to sell and what do you want to be known for in your niche.
For example - You could think of - focusing on dresses for dogs, dresses for 1 year old girls etc. and not focus on any kind of dress. With this approach, you will have a smaller addressable market (by focusing on a niche area) but on the flip side you will be super focused on your category. You will have minimum number of competitors and you can differentiate with targeted messaging and positioning. This will help you build a market and a strong brand presence.
Dianz is currently positioned as a unique kids boutique. Dianz is still contemplating and experimenting on what to focus within a Kids boutique.
2. Build an email list - Email marketing still works. In this new world of social media, we might find it difficult to absorb the fact that email marketing still has one of the highest conversion rates. What your email list provides is an engaged potential customer base. They are the people who will buy from you in the beginning stages. They are the people who will believe in you and will market you. You have an opportunity to communicate to them on a regular basis. They will know you well and they will remember your brand. You have full control on what they should hear and how often.
The challenge with social media is that there is too much noise and there are too many platforms. Its not to say you shouldn't have a strategy at all but in the early stages email marketing is the best bet.
If you are a data person like me, I start by setting goals to build my email list. Its totally possible to create a list of 10,000 subscribers in a year. It starts with getting your friends to subscribe to your email list by asking them for support.
3. Driving traffic to the website - Your success in ecommerce depends on your website traffic and conversion rates. Think about it as a funnel you need to optimize.
If you think logically, the following needs to happen
a) Visitors need to see your website.
b) You need to analyze the visitor behavior on the website. What pages do they visit, how long do they spend on the site etc.
c) Optimize the website experience - You wanted to provide an awesome experience for the visitors.
d) Convert visitors into paying customers - You want your visitors to become paying customers.
If you don't have visitors on your website, you don't have a business. The concept is very similar to a lemonade stand. For the lemonade stand to make money, you wanted to put it near crowded places with lots of people. You wanted to position your lemonade stand closer to the road and ensure people can see.
The key to success is to understand your conversion funnel from visitors to paying customers and to optimize your website to increase conversions.
Start by setting monthly traffic goals. Our personal goal is to get 50,000 visitors in a year.
Lastly I wanted to emphasis a keyword in my dictionary. FOCUS.
There are lots of new shiny objects in the market everyday. There are lots of new problems in the market everyday. Once you decide what you wanted to, be super focused on it. Dianz is focused on bringing innovation and unique designs in the Kids Boutique segment. Look at your key success metrics daily. Work really hard to improve the success metrics and everything you do should directly affect that.
1. Think about your brand story.
2. Work on identifying the niche.
3. The primary goals are - build an email list and drive website traffic.
4. Lastly, be laser focused on your goals.
In the next article, I will deep-dive into how you start.