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So, you want to start an e-commerce business. Why? First define the reasons why you want to run an online business as this is what will carry you through when times get tough. Once you’ve found your ‘why’, it’s time to implement a strategy of how to achieve it. You will have likely read numerous quotes telling you to just ‘get started’. Although getting started is half of the battle, it is exactly that, half of the battle. Before you dive head first into a market, you should gather as much information as possible that will help you lay a solid foundation for your business.

Find your competition, order from them, see what the whole buying process is like and analyse how you could do it better. Find the industry average costs and find a way to shave a percentage off the the price. With over 861 million websites online, it is likely that somebody is already selling your idea. If this is the case then niche down. For instance, you’re planning on selling smartphone cases and you naturally notice that there is a lot of competition online, you will likely spread yourself thin and spend the majority of your budget on inventory. The 80/20 rule dictates that 80% of your sales will come from 20% of your products. Why not just pick a particular phone case e.g. HTC and specialise in that phone case. If you do not yet have a product to sell, adopt a ‘market pull’ strategy as opposed to a ‘product push’ strategy. By this I mean that instead of coming up with an idea and then doing everything in your power to get it recognised in the ocean that is the internet, research what the market is asking for and fill the gap better than anybody else is doing it.

Start by going on online forums, blogs, keywords searches, and websites such as trend watching to view potential gaps in the market. For more help on how to find a product that will add value to the market and get the results you desire.
Next step is once you have your product nailed down, it’s time to make a budget. It is important when creating a budget to avoid being conservative. Especially in the initial stages of starting your business, unexpected costs can arise that challenge the very existence of your business and if you have not made provisions in place you may fall at the first hurdle.

The next step is to choose an ecommerce solution that fits your budget and your level of expertise. Be sure to spend time looking for a platform that best suits you as this could be the difference between your business becoming a huge success and closing down within the first 6 months.If you are experienced in building websites and are handy with web development then an ‘open source’ platform may be best for you. Open source essentially means that the source code is open for universal access and can be installed on your own server.

Ensure your E-commerce website stands out from the crowd
-Personalised thank you emails after ordering
-Engage on social media
-Rewards system
-Targeted email marketing
Once you have your site up and running, it’s time to tell the world. Marketing is quite possibly the most important part of the process so far. When marketing your product and indeed when trying to develop any part of your business, it is important to go in with the correct mind-set.

Although each one of these steps are of utmost important to the success of your business, you are never going to perfect each step and it will always be a constant developing process. Don’t be afraid to start even if everything doesn’t seem to be directly in place or else your business will never get off the ground.

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