If we told you that you could start an e-commerce business this week, you’d probably think we were crazy. However, believe it or not, it’s possible. Thanks to the wonders of the Internet, there’s actually nothing stopping you from creating and launching a product in a week.
In this article, we look at nine steps for launching an e-commerce business in a week.
Step 1: Identifying a high-potential product.
There are many things you’ll need to consider when deciding on what your product offering might be. We recommend finding something which has significant local and international demand and high margins. Moreover, it would be best if you also considered an offering which can easily be warehoused and fulfilled.
A couple of excellent resources to use to identify hot products are Google Trends, eBay Top Products and Amazon Best Sellers. For example, winter apparel is currently a hot trend for South Africans in light of the coming cold season and because of online shopping sites being once again afforded the sale and distribution of non-essential items. The earlier you find a trend, the better chance you’ll have at turning it into a thriving e-commerce business.
Of course, we advise selecting something which you are interested in, as you’re going to have to invest notable time and effort if you plan on launching a thriving e-Commerce company. The more enthusiasm you have, the easier the process will be.
Step 2: Secure a manufacturer.
Perhaps you have an excellent product idea and high levels of website traffic. However, if your manufacturer can’t keep up with your demand, you may find yourself in a situation where you struggle to fulfill orders. Communication is vital, especially in the scenario where you have overseas manufacturers.
When approaching potential manufacturers, develop a set of specific questions for each. If a manufacturer fails to ask even one of your questions, move on to the next until you find the best fit for your offering. Don’t only consider the cost; communication is far more critical.
Step 3: Create a brand name and online presence.
Your business brand name has to be both memorable, appealing to your target market as well as available as a domain name and social media handles. We suggest always opting for a dot-co.za domain name, and keeping it local if your audience will remain local.
Our industry partner Domains.co.za can help you register your domain name and fire up your local Web Hosting with ease.
Step 4: Corporate Identity and Website.
If you haven’t already considered your website layout and logo concept, get on it as soon as possible. Following this, recruit the help of freelance designers to ultimately finalise your web design and corporate identity. We recommend paying extra to get this done quickly for your first version.
You could opt for Wordpress and WooCommerce as opensource options, but there are several alternate options out there. Shopify is an excellent choice if you lack the technical know-how or budget to create a custom website; and Shopify boasts several themes which can get you up and running in no time and without much technical knowledge. Visit the Magic Interactive business page to find out more about these services.
Step 5 - Select a Payment Gateway.
In today’s saturated e-Commerce landscape, having a robust, efficient and secure payment gateway provider is non-negotiable especially in garnering trust with customers. In a nutshell, a payment gateway is a merchant service provided by eCommerce platforms which authorises payments via credit card, debit card, Instant EFT and in some cases cryptocurrency. For more on why your eCommerce site needs a payment gateway visit the PayFast business page to get in touch and get set up!
Step 6: Determine your fulfilment and shipping specifics.
The next step is deciding whether you’ll handle order processing and fulfilment in-house, or outsource. Of course, your decision will depend on the product or products you sell. Specific scenarios will require a drop-ship business model, in which the business owner acts as an order taker, and a third party (this could be your manufacturer) handles order fulfilment.
Perhaps you’re selling smaller items such as sanitary face masks. If this is the case, we recommend in-house fulfilment. If you’re shipping bigger items or speciality items, consider a third-party shipping fulfilment service and outsourced warehousing.
We recommend opting for a shipping service which offers priority and flat rate shipping costs. Why? Well, this allows business owners the option of sending customers tracking numbers as soon as a shipping label is created, which eliminates orders status customer service requests. Secondly, by opting for a priority shipping option, your customers will receive their orders in two days. Of course, this might not be the cheapest option to consider, but the customer experience will no doubt be better, which is something of vital importance.
Step 7: Create your revenue goals.
Obviously, we do not recommend going into this blind; it’s imperative that you determine and know your numbers. How much does each unit cost? What are the shipping costs? Shipping costs include all components of fulfilment, including staff, software and postage. Have you considered the processing fees of your merchant?
We advise developing concrete revenue goals, as specific as daily numbers. If your product has an expiration date, you’ll need to hit your goals to ensure you’re not stuck with unsellable stock.
Furthermore, always look for ways to cut costs, because in the scenario where your sales volume increases, it could dramatically increase your profit margins. If your website is seeing a considerable amount of transactional volume, we recommend negotiating better rates the processing company. Every Rand saved is money which you can allocate to your marketing and advertising efforts which in the long-run will further bolster the growth of your business.
Visit Outsourced CFO to acquire the correct skills and services from a business that have a wealth of knowledge to assist your business with your finance goals.
Step 8: Create a marketing plan.
Now that you have a product and website, you need to figure out how you’re going to put your offering in front of your target customers.
If you’re seeking to generate sales immediately, we recommend launching a Facebook ad campaign which also includes placements on Instagram. Consider using influencer marketing to drive conversions as soon as you launch. Of course, your marketing plan should consist of long-term components such as SEO, but in the beginning, your focus needs to be on generating sales and revenue if you desire to scale fast.
Ensure that you track everything accurately, by setting up conversion pixels and goals so that you know where every sale comes from. The more data you have at your hands, the more targeted your campaigns will become and the faster you’ll grow.
Barrk Marketing is an industry expert that specialises in defining and achieving your marketing objectives, visit their business page to find out more.
Step 9: Launch.
Lastly, the most important advice we can give you is; do not wait to launch until you believe your e-Commerce website is perfect. It’s counterproductive as you’ll more than likely have to carry out split tests to optimise consistently, and your site will never be perfect.
If you fail once, don’t quit, try again. Most business owner’s first attempts at a venture fail; in fact, many entrepreneurs fail multiple times before experiencing their first success.
If you require legal assistance to establish your terms of services and delivery for your customers, which most ecommerce businesses do, reach out to Legalese to access their creative legal solutions for startups and businesses.