Stepping stones for launching an eCommerce business
With the growing number of ecommerce stores and witnessing the success achieved by many of them, most of the retailers with brick and mortar stores are now a days thinking on investing on an online store. But having the budget to get a store developed and designed is not enough. Many of the retailers planning to venture into the eCommerce ecosystem have the notion that it’s an easy task and the only cost associated are that of the store development and hosting. On the contrary there are several vital steps associated with launching an online store.
Here are some Stepping stones for launching an eCommerce Business.
Market Research and Analysis.
No matter which industry vertical you deal in, it’s inevitable that there are already online stores selling the same service or product. The primary step is to do an in-depth market research and analyses their success factors. Identify your targeted audience and benchmark their online presence.
Draft business plan
Jot down your business plans and identify what would be your key differentiator with your competitors. Figure out what extra and unique would you be able to offer that would lure consumers to visit your store. You have to be clear about your differential advantage. Estimate your budget and make a check list of all the investments that would be required till atleast one year down the line. Also do not forget to define your strategies to mark your presence just not In terms of product offerings or pricing but also your marketing campaigns.
There are hundreds of eCommerce platform available in the market. Even after comparing the top contenders you will find each has its own specialties. Enlist your requirements in details and the compare which platform will suit your business requirements best. One platform might involve less initial investment or even low recurring cost but will have limitations in case future of expansions, some other platform might be open sourced and its features can be extended in future but might incur heavy investment. You will have to select one keeping all odds in mind.
Select the hosting service provider wisely. You need to select a quality service provider else your online store project can turn out as a disaster. Registering your website domain name relevant to your brand name is vital. People should be able to associate your brand with your store’s URL.
Development & Designing
Choose the web development company wisely after going through their portfolio, and if necessary ask for one-two references as well. Discuss with your selected company and decide the look and feel of your store. Your online store should have a well-designed navigation path so that visitors can smoothly complete their shopping cycle.
Hire professional photographers for getting pictures of your products. Always remember your product pictures will be all by which consumers will judge them, as they won’t be able to perceive them by touching or trying them.
Study what payment options or mediums are preferred by the online consumers residing in the targeted region. Some may prefer net banking, some COD and some may prefer paying via PayPal. Selection of payment gateway is crucial as it projects an positive image of an authentic ecommerce service provider. A merchant account has to be selected with a bank or financial institution. Check on the application fees, monthly fees, termination fees and annual fees.
Customer support and shipping
In online business, providing efficient service is vital. Analyze the options available to you in terms of delivering though shipment providers or dropping shipping items.
In case of selecting a shipment provider, define your targeted geographical region first and check on the provider’s reputation there.
Your team responsible for looking after your online business should be separate from the team you have for your brick and mortar store. They should be competent enough to handle critical ebusiness scenarios.