The beauty of ecommerce, at least from a business perspective, is that you don’t need a ton of resources to get started. Everything you need can be found online and you aren’t required to invest in real estate or any of the other expensive infrastructural elements that generally command large amounts of capital. But in order to be successful, there are some things you must have.
What Does it Take?
The low barriers to entry in the ecommerce space mean just about anyone can get started. All you need is a little bit of money, an internet connection, and a basic understanding of how the internet works. But just because it’s easy to get started doesn’t mean success is guaranteed.
In 2015, the last year in which reputable data is available, there were an estimated 12 million ecommerce websites on the internet. However, only 650,000 of these ecommerce sites produced more than $1,000 in revenue. That’s a paltry 5 percent. And of the 650,000 ecommerce stores making more than $1,000 in annual revenue, only a fraction are making enough to be considered highly successful companies.
In other words, there’s nothing easy about running a sustainable ecommerce business that produces a healthy stream of revenue. Yet, when you study the businesses that are successful, it becomes clear that they all follow a similar recipe for success. Specifically, they emphasize the following keys:
1. Quality Products and Services
People who tell you that you only need a desire to be successful are selling you a load of crap. It might sound good in a motivational speech or seminar, but a desire to be successful doesn’t automatically create success. Want to know what does? Quality products and services.
You’re probably thinking this is obvious, but it’s amazing how many entrepreneurs try to be successful without creating a strong foundation that consists of a quality product offering. When everything else is stripped away, businesses should be able to stand on the merit of what they’re selling. If you can’t, then you need to reassess your priorities.
2. Compelling Brand
A quality product might be the cornerstone of a successful ecommerce business, but it’s not the only success factor. In order to establish a business that connects with customers, you have to build a compelling brand.
“Being able to succinctly articulate a compelling story around your brand, how it came in to being, what its all about, why it matters to your primary customers and where it’s heading into the future is crucial to your success,” branding expert Lorraine Carter explains. “Stories connect people and your brand story is what gives it meaning and solidity, helps define its values, shapes its destiny and captures your customer’s imaginations, thereby attracting and engaging their ongoing interest.”
Make sure that, in addition to innovating quality products and services, you’re also coming up with a compelling story that resonates with your target audience. Take the time to establish both and you’ll be well ahead of the game.
3. Strong Inventory Management
There’s nothing that goes on behind the scenes that will derail an ecommerce business faster than poor inventory management. This is especially true in today’s environment, where businesses typically sell via multiple platforms and channels at once.
In order to be successful, you have to create a strong and sustainable inventory management strategy. This probably involves finding an inventory management solution that streamlines basic processes and ensures you aren’t over- or under-selling.
4. Fast and Efficient Website
A gorgeous website that reflects your brand’s ideals and helps tell your story is obviously a must-have, but what few entrepreneurs realize is how important speed and efficiency are. If your website isn’t fast enough, you’re going to damage your brand’s reputation and lose sales. Here’s what the data shows:
- 47 percent of website visitors expect a webpage to load in 2 seconds or less.
- A 1-second delay in page load time means an 11 percent loss of page views and a 7 percent reduction in conversions.
- 79 percent of customers who report dissatisfaction with a website’s performance are less likely to purchase from the same website again.
A fast website is something you need in order to stand a chance of being successful in today’s demanding ecommerce industry. Thankfully it’s pretty simple to achieve, so long as you pay attention to what you’re doing.
5. Trust Between Brand and Audience
There’s a certain amount of trust involved in any business relationship, but the nature of ecommerce adds some unique factors to the equation. Because customers aren’t able to touch and feel products and interact with the business in a face-to-face manner, they have to trust that the business will follow through in good faith (and that the products are everything they’re promised to be).
The level of trust you create between your ecommerce brand and your audience will ultimately determine how well you do at creating repeat customers and driving future sales. This is something you can and should focus on when telling your brand story.
Never Settle for Average
There are millions of average ecommerce websites on the internet. They putter along making little or no money and barely show any signs of life. You don’t want to be in this category. You’ll have plenty of company if you are, but the goal should be to take the necessary steps to position your company in the upper echelon of ecommerce businesses. Focus on the keys highlighted in this article and you’ll be well on your way.