Launching an online shop can be either a smooth process or a never-ending nuisance. Having a broad experience of the subject, I am dropping a few suggestions on what the process could look like.
In every point I let myself describe the common mistakes entrepreneurs make:
1. To start a new company, or to launch an eCommerce, as a project within already existing company.
A common mistake: The bureaucracy connected with launching an e-shop within an operating company often threatens the new entity with slowdown. Sometimes, it is easier to start a new partnership (eg., as a subsidiary) and avoid the problems in distribution channels, stiff pricing policy, or other corporate complications.
2. Arranging the terms of delivery (the price of purchase, minimum number of orders, and the time and cost of delivery).
A common mistake: A dropshipping model combined with too much trust in the deliverers’ promises about the order fulfillment time generate delays in delivering the products unavailable in stock. These are the most frequent reasons why customers complain.
3. Creating a stocking strategy. How many products do we keep in stock?
Common mistakes: Going to extremes – no warehouse or an oversized warehouse that leads to limited funds for marketing, for example. What you want to do, instead, is making sure you have minimal delivery costs and then looking for the bottlenecks.
4. Coming up with a name and choosing an adequate domain.
A common mistake: The belief that the domain only can work miracles. A good domain will never release you from building the brand – this takes time and money.
5. Setting the invoicing and billing strategy with your accounting office or the finance department.
A common mistake: Complicating the process (big shops often have it simple) – the more financial procedures and exceptions, the more mistakes and problems you have.
6. Purchase of a financial and stocking software.
A common mistake: Buying the software without flexible data import and export options. Automating the logistics – accounting – warehouse interface is crucial in an e-shop.
7. Purchase of an eCommerce software.
A common mistake: Choosing the software too soon, without giving it enough thought. Notice that it is only the number 7 on my list – do not start with the choice of an e-shop platform. First of all, you have to understand what you are really going to need (eg., see what functions your competition uses) and keep your expectations grounded. Only when you launch the store, you will have a clear view of what is actually necessary.
8. The eCommerce regulations and the contact details.
Common mistakes: Copying the rules and regulations or having them drawn up by a lawyer, who does not know the internet realia.
9. Including product descriptions.
A common mistake: Copying the descriptions – every product description is of critical importance for your e-store. It affects the usability and SEO – one of the most important areas in e-commerce. Make sure you set aside enough time to create your own, unique descriptions of the products.
10. Testing the shop with friends and real users, encouraging to place an order. Starting an AdWords account and beta tests with real users.
A common mistake: The lack of tests leading to obvious, avoidable problems with the first clients. You will need to test the e-store constantly. At the beginning, however, it is especially important to be sure that all the critical paths are functioning properly. Check not only their functionality but also the user experience.
Common mistakes: Going to extremes – either ignoring marketing and expecting miracles, or kick-starting all the marketing channel simultaneously. If you want a successful e-store, you have to assume that the initial cost of running it will equal your marketing costs. Expect a return on investment no sooner than after the first 6 months.
As to starting all the marketing channels at the same time, doing so makes marketing optimization much more difficult. Usually, it is a good idea to begin with AdWords, and then to try the price comparison engines or affiliate platforms. In the meantime, once you have grown your client database, you can start sending a newsletter.
What about you? What were your beginnings? :)
Do you need help with starting e-business? Feel free to get in touch!