Starting an eCommerce business from home can be very easy,and once up and running, it can be entirely up to you how far you want things to go. Many businesses that started off in a garage or spare bedroom have grown to the point where larger premises were needed, and staff had to be employed.
It doesn’t matter whether or not you want to take it this far yourself, but if you want your business to become massive or merely just survive for the next 12 months, you need to pay close attention to your online presence.
After all, as an online business, this will be where you get 100% of your customers from – so you need to make sure you can be found easily and those visitors can be turned into buyers as effortlessly as possible.
#1 Improving your website
You might currently get very few visitors to your website because you do most of your selling on Amazon, eBay, or one of the other larger platforms. This is a business model followed by plenty of eCommerce businesses, but it does have one major flaw.
If, for some reason, that platform takes a dislike to what you are doing – and it doesn’t even have to be your fault – then you could lose most of your business income overnight.
This means you need to have a working and professional-looking website in place, even as just a backup. It might also be the case that somebody looking at your products on Amazon wants to know more about you, so having a good-looking website gives you legitimacy.
To improve your website, you should get a web designer involved, preferably one that has experience in eCommerce. Another alternative is to install a Shopify template on your site and ‘fill in the blanks’ to get your store up and running using the descriptions and images you already have from your listings on other platforms.
Once this is in place, however, the work is only just beginning, as it needs to be kept to this high standard. This might be too much for your to do – after all, you do have a business to run – so you should look for a website management company to take the strain here. They can make sure your website stays updated and alert you should any glitches occur.
#2 Use social media
Another tactic to help with legitimacy and drive traffic to your products would be to increase your efforts on social media.Half of the world’s population now uses social media, and while all of them won’t be your target market, it is a lot of potential customers to miss out on. Depending on what you sell and where you believe your target market to be, you will need to concentrate your efforts and your content style to fit the appropriate platform.
Younger people tend to flock to Instagram and TikTok to look for what they want, while older people can be targeted on Facebook. Either way, your posts need to be the right balance between informative and sales. People want to know more about you and what you do, so they can be clear on what your ethics are. Customers tend to buy from companies whose values most closely align with their own, so you need to be clear about what you stand for.
You could also get a social media influencer involved with your next product launch. They can demonstrate your product online to an audience that trusts what they say, and this could give you a huge boost in sales. Of course, you will have to pay them for this, but if you can work out a deal where they get a percentage of sales rather than a fixed fee, you will only be paying them from the money you have already made.
#3 Don’t forget about blogging & content
As well as posting on large social media platforms, you can also start blogging about what your business is doing. This might be seen as ‘old school’ or a waste of time by some people, but it can have a massive effect on your online presence. To begin with, regardless of what shape your website has taken, having a blog attached gives prospective customers a greater insight into what you do and can also give you the chance to create some long-form informative content.
This might consist of a guide particular to your niche or what to look out for when buying the types of products you sell. As customers do not have a salesperson to talk to and ask questions, you can take this place with these posts and install yourself as the authority figure in their minds.
This also gives you the opportunity to provide guest posts for other people’s blogs, especially those who are looking for an expert about the type of products you sell. You will then reach however many readers they have, who are likely to check out what you have to say on your own site – and possibly even your products as well.
#4 Drive more natural traffic using SEO
An additional bonus of this will also be a backlink to your site, which can help with how your site is seen by Google and other search engines. As you probably know from searching online yourself, people rarely look beyond the first page or so of results, so you need to try and get on those. This is called SEO and is not something you should attempt yourself, and as with website creation, you should turn to professionals to help you.
A reliable SEO agency can help you in many areas. They can help you find the right keywords to target when writing (and also for any online advertising you happen to be doing) which are relevant to people who want more information about and buy products in your industry. They can also help with content creation and placing it on other sites, which, the same as your self-written guest posts, will provide backlinks to your main site or to your listing on other platforms.
It could also be prudent to ask them to look at your website design to see if there is anything you can do to make it more search engine friendly, as a few tweaks in the right area can go a long way.
#5 Make sure your business is ready
If you are successful in all or any of these plans, you will see a distinct upturn in sales, which means you need to be ready to fulfill those orders and do it well. It doesn’t matter what you are using already; if you have a deluge of extra sales, you will need to make sure you are not overwhelmed and get everything out on time and in one piece.
You will need to have a state-of-the-art order management system in place to make sure that all of these extra visitors and the orders they place get what they want. This system should track the order from the second it is placed, through picking and packing, and despatched to the customer.
This way, you know exactly where everything is and where your bottlenecks are, meaning you can reassign staff accordingly. This can also help with controlling stock and spotting sales trends well in advance of you running out of best-selling items and missing out on sales.
A smooth order process is not only preferable for your own peace of mind but is also key for your long-term profitability and growth. Customers who get their orders quickly and without problems are more likely to order again.
If possible (and it fits in with your business model), you could encourage them to take a subscription out for a product, where they have it delivered every month or so. Again, this can be made much easier if you have a reliable order management system in place.
As it is far cheaper and easier to sell to established customerswith whom you already have a relationship than somebody who is brand new, it makes perfect sense to have as many of these repeat customers as possible. These same customers are also more likely to leave positive reviews for you online, which in turn can bring even more attention to your products.
A few final thoughts
You are likely to find that your eCommerce business will grow in tandem with your online presence, so you need to ensure that you are as visible as possible online. You will get plenty of visibility from your presence on selling platforms, but what can set you apart from the competition is getting attention and customers via other means.
Your website is vitally important here because even if it isn’t your shop window, how it looks makes an impression on prospective customers.
Blogging and getting an SEO company involved can get you natural traffic, and you can also make the most of social media. All of this will fall flat, however, if you don’t have your order management system in place so customers can get what they ordered, be happy with it, and want to order again.