The digital age has brought about the rise in e-commerce, and many people are turning towards establishing online businesses to support themselves financially and bring their brain babies to fruition. Though there are a lot of great ideas out there, many people are less familiar with the business-side of successfully making an online shop. This article is here to, in the least, put you in the business state of mind to help you increase the chances of your brain babies becoming a huge internet success.
The following five questions are the initial steps you need to take in order to see how to develop your idea further and make the internet a better place:
1. WHAT are you selling?
If you are reading this article, it is more than likely that you already have a product or service in mind for your new business, but you need to be more precise than an idea or concept. Think about the details of your product: size, pricing, customizability, etc. until you have a complete picture as to what you want to offer your customers.
Try to ask people in your surroundings what they think about your idea, draw up sketches of the product and show it to them, ask for feedback in order to save yourself the trouble of tweaking in later stages of developing your business. Keep an open when listening to their advice and apply it to your idea; see whether there is truth in what they are saying,
2. WHO are you selling it to?
Now that you have your product/service in mind, it is time for the next filter, namely your target audience. You need to paint an idea of who would need what you are offering; age group, location, lifestyle, social surroundings, interests, what influences them, etc. Quick Sprout has a great article on how to define your target audience, where they explain every step on determining who is your target audience and how to use the information you collect to build your brand identity and position your product/service on the market.
3. WHERE will you be selling it?
Though your business will be online there are many platforms that you can sell your goods on. With the first two questions answered, it’ll be easier to determine what platform suits your target audience. Many stores resort to opening independent online shops as opposed to Etsy, Amazon, eBay, etc. because of the freedom to customize the site and the complete control of data, though it does create additional expenses, such as domain ownership, web design, web maintenance, etc.
Another way this question can be interpreted and is equally important is where your product and/or service is delivered (or where is your target audience located). This will help you approach the topic of transportation for your goods. If you plan on selling globally, it might be wise to look at order fulfillment, where a company can have the entire process of delivery and warehousing organized by a fulfillment house, such as Swiss Mail Solutions. Many of these companies also offer the option of warehousing your goods so as to decrease your costs and speed up delivery time to your customer.
4. HOW MUCH can you produce? (production capacity)
Knowing your current capabilities when it comes to production can not only help you have a more realistic approach to your sales, but also give you insight as to what direction you should plan to develop your business.
If you’re selling hand-made goods, it is wiser to regularly update your shop with what is in stock at the moment, so as not to confuse potential customers (many use Etsy for this level of production), while if you are going for a larger scale, then Amazon, eBay or an independent site are the smarter way to go. Once you start selling your goods, you will also have a better idea as to how much you sell on average, which can help you reorganize your production so that you can lower unnecessary costs and optimize profit.
5. How will you PROMOTE your product?
Finally, after you’ve developed your business plan based on the first four questions and have the entire concept ready, it is finally time to think about how you’re going to spread the word. Digital marketing always seems like a handful at first glance, but once you understand the basics, it becomes something you do with a flick of the wrist.
The first thing is to develop your visual identity; i.e. logo, banners, web design, etc. These should be designed to attract your target audience, which you have already determined in question two, and should remain relatively constant throughout the rest of your promotional material, so as to create a visual association with your product/service.
Next, you should determine what could attract your customers beyond your product. Many shops choose to give discounts for subscribing to their newsletter, which allows them to send their customers information regarding new offers. Here, you can be as creative as you like, as long as the end result is an increase in visibility, and hopefully sales.
A lot of people also turn to social media platforms in order to promote themselves. Twitter’s #hashtag system allows for quick visibility, but you need to determine which ones will take your tweets to your target audience. Wishpond has an article discussing hashtag strategies that you can find here. Others also simply promote their products on Facebook by regularly posting photos of new products or promotional campaigns, such as discounts for a limited amount of time.