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Building the perfect e-commerce platform step-by-step

The industry of e-commerce is rich with opportunity. By allowing brands to broaden their customer base exponentially, a company can evolve into an online business organically. E-commerce reputably strengthens a brand's accessibility and image. 

Tapping into wide-ranging populations of customers and hard to reach niche buyers, online shopping allows for a company's products to be accessed swiftly and efficiently, without the pressure of a hard sell. 

So you want to open up shop? Grab your laptop and plug in.

Just like every business decision, the intentions for your online shop should be clear and well defined. Map out the brand's ultimate ambitions, both in terms of sales and marketing. Strategise a five-year plan, and envision a way to achieve your goals, staggered in annual stages for cyclical review. Certain habits can maximise the effectiveness of managing an online business. Ensure you are well versed in the workings of all social media platforms and familiar with relevant retailing sites. If you have any colleagues or sister brands, who can offer to advise, take advantage of this and benefit from that information. Understanding another, not dissimilar brand's experiences can spare you from pursuing ideas which might yield meagre profits and dead-end investments.

There are a number of ways to identify the best online sales store for your business. 'Dropshipping' is an increasingly popular method by which a customer's orders and shipment details are passed directly to the wholesaler for dispatch with you as the retailer. Warehousing and stock checks become a thing of the past, moving responsibility directly to the wholesaler, freeing up your time and space for promoting products and trend forecasting. Alternatively, trials with dropshipping, ordering condensed amounts of stock to ship out or collaborating with a business partner, allow responsibilities to be shared and managed between retailer and wholesaler in a variety of ways.

Have a listen to our new podcast, with strategies and tips to help your company  grow.

Get used to working on an ad hoc basis. The quicker you manage to switch into business mode in any given circumstance, the faster you can monetise opportunities. An online shop is always open for business. The quicker you are personally able to respond to queries and requests, the more valued both potential or existing customers will feel. Your online audience is seeking brand loyalty and affiliation to one outlet; To promote trust and efficiency, fast and clear communication is critical. As your audience grows as a consequence so will the businesses revenue. In 2021 the number of online buyers is predicted to peak at 2.14 billion. It's a buyers market right now and if you have to be in it to make a sale, so now is the prime time to join the party. Money makes money.

For some businesses, what could and should be sold is intuitive. However, if launching an online shop doesn't feel like an organic extension for the company, then hard headed research into what products to retail could be the way ahead. Pay close attention to what trends are dominating social media, from practical to novelty items. Think inside and out of the box and don't be afraid to take risks. With products which don't have a track record which you feel are worth a risk retailing, begin purchasing limited amounts of stock which can be sold off at cost price if they do not sell well. The experience of learning what works and what doesn't will ultimately contribute to your overall success; So don't make the mistake of believing failure equals loss.

Watch the terminology and language fellow stockists use and the platforms they utilise. Pay careful attention to customer reviews online; This gives you direct access to what audiences appreciate, expect and, equally, hate. eBay, Amazon, Etsy and Depop formalise reviews simply, using this feedback to build your own, robust outlet. Look for what sells well, from the perspective of colour, size, price and shipping costs. Spoiler Alert! Customers LOVE free P&P! Never underestimate how appealing absorbing shipping costs into the overall price and advertising mailing as free can be!

The excitement of launching your own shop is a thrill. As a business owner profit is paramount. Do not get too caught up on progressing your e-commerce outlet past the point of affordability. The average e-commerce gross margin is approximately 40 per cent. If you are consistently failing to achieve anywhere close to this, strategise, refocus and then relaunch! Oberlo's profit margin calculator is easy to use and perfect to incorporate into your weekly evaluations.

The final decision to make here is where to host your shop. Many fledgeling's start out using Facebook Marketplace or Instagram Shop or Etsy. Online shops built onto established social online communities benefit from a ready-made audience. You have a target audience all ready and willing to buy into your brand. Likes, shares and click-throughs can be effortlessly accessed. Once you have tracked trends, charted the specifics of product marketing and strategised brand evolution, the company can progress into an independent retail space. Shopify is an easy, secure and intelligent platform a brand can use to construct an e-commerce space in a simple way. Catering to every kind of business, Shopify is backed by powerful tools to help drive sales. Once you are up and running with your shop, endorsement is key. Call on your influencer colleagues and friends to like, share and promote. Just like value-added content, visibility with a shop is critical. The more eyes on your website, the more likely you are to make a sale and grow the audience. Mention the shop on podcasts, tweet links to products and get in touch with stockists who may be interested in hyperlinking your store. Your shop does not have the luxury of a shut sign, so make sure you welcome each potential customer with open arms and a comprehensive sales pitch.

Is it time to grow your business?