It is estimated there are up from 1.66 billion global digital buyers and retail eCommerce sales worldwide amounted to 2.3 trillion US dollars in 2017 and growing. However, although the numbers looks pretty, 80% of new eCommerce website fails in the first year.
We are now seeing a trend all over the world that E-commerce is eating up the retail world. Giant brick- and-mortar retail brand, Toys “R” Us is closing their stores in USA in 2017. Borders went into bankruptcy on 2011 and Barnes & Nobles might follow suit soon. Despite each and every giant brick-and-mortar retailer have their own eCommerce website, it didn’t guarantee their survival.
But interesting enough, in the midst of all these giant bookstores trying to make ends meet, Amazon dubbed as “The Bookstore Killer”, open Amazon Books, its first retail store in Seattle in November 2015. Amazon believes the data insights it has developed from selling books online can help the retailer avoid stocking titles that will sit on the shelf collecting dust, thus decided to open a brick-and-mortar bookstore.
With the statistics and the case studies above, if you are planning or already opening an eCommerce website, how do you minimize the risk of failure? These are some of some basic pointers:
- Do market research to justify demand
No matter how excited you feel about your idea you need to spend some time to evaluate market demands of your idea before stocking up on the product or sign any contract. A lot of people skip this essential step because they have too high confidence in their own idea and get carried away. Taking the time to go through this process will help you understand whether or not there is a healthy demand of your product.
When conducting market research around your business idea, there are a few methods you can use:
- Conduct keyword research
- Find trends and put the big picture in perspective.
- Examine similar products in social media.
- Leverage your personal networks and get their honest feedback.
- Get distribution
In 2018 when this article was written, building an eCommerce site is easy. Some ecommerce shop can be made ready within 1 hour with minimal charges. However the trickiest part is how to get people to know your product and start buying. A common way of doing it is building a “forum” or “community” around your product or services where users can come together to draw a crowd. Promote your service to the crowd to create interest.
However before you attract this crowd, your brand needs to stand for something for people to experience it. Your brand’s values should also align with customers’ values to amplify the effect. This will fuel customer’s attraction towards the brand.
Next, build transparency in your eCommerce website by adding contact information, disclosing any additional fees or shipping costs before checkout, and show customer reviews.
- Have beautiful pictures
Quality product images are the key driver of eCommerce engagement and conversion. A single snapshot gives more impact about the product’s quality than paragraphs of text. After all human are naturally visual. Images can be used to show readers what you have to offer in just one single picture. If you have great images, they’ll stick around to read the details and even share it in their social media networks.
- Write detailed descriptions
A well-written product description explains the benefits of the product and convinces the customer to click the button and make a purchase. As visitors cannot physically touch the products, your product description will answer the questions they have in their mind.
Not only has that, the product descriptions helped in the website’s Search Engine Optimization (SEO) ranking. Google do not favor duplicate content, so if you are copying all the descriptions from the manufacturer’s website Google will automatically lower down your website SEO ranking.
Above all, to make your product stand out from other sellers, you need to tell a story about the product that is different from what the other sellers are writing. Tell your audience why it’s great and why you choose to sell it. A story sticks in a person’s mind longer than product specifications.
- Get their emails
It’s a common misconception, when an eCommerce website is fully operational, customers will flood in and buy straight away. To a certain extent, running an eCommerce business is almost like dating and courting. Most people do not get married right after the first date. A small percentage might do but most people will go for a few dates, get to know each other more and then plan to get married.
The same goes for eCommerce business. One or two customers might buy the first time they see the product on your website but most of the others would visit, review, bookmark, compare, save money and then only they buy. Sometimes they forget about it for some time, remembered it, search back and buy.
The hard reality is most people who visit your eCommerce website will never visit again unless you do something to keep them coming back. This is when email marketing comes in handy. Give something free through email and follow up with them. Have newsletters for bonus so that they get some extra value. Once they submit their email address, you have permission to market to them. Give extra bonus on regular basis on products relevant to them. This way you will convert sales better and on a regular basis. They think about you all the time and come back to buy from your website
The days of the conventional retail stores dominating the entire world of retail are long gone. The digital age had created new opportunities for new companies to dominate the retail market. They operate in more efficient way especially in terms of distribution of goods and services. While selling in their eCommerce platform, these companies have collected data insights that enable them to plan their stocks better. In some cases like Amazon, they even kill the traditional retail book market and started opening up their own retail shop by using the data insights. This trend is happening in all countries around the world, like a giant wave.