By: Emma Burke, Inventor and Co-owner, Laceeze
Setting up an e-commerce business can be a relatively inexpensive way to start a business, all you really need is a good website, some desired products with great images and some grit and determination.
Setting up a professional looking website doesn’t even have to cost the earth, many of the big e-commerce platforms such as shopify and woo-commerce have beautifully curated templates which you can adapt to your own branding and create the site yourself. In my opinion images are key to the site looking both beautiful and professional. This is where I would invest in getting hi resolution product packshot images alongside some very nice lifestyle images of your products in use. Again the later doesn’t have to be expensive and encouraging your customers to send in user generated content can be massively beneficial and in our experience pretty easy to get your customers to do so.
Having a really good social media profile is an absolute must and will help drive traffic to your site, create brand awareness and help create customer trust and loyalty. You have a great site and great products but once you’ve switched on that site you need to tell the world about you and this is probably the hardest thing to do when you launch. Working with influencers in your industry can be very beneficial or something which I did when I launched was to have an ambassador programme, this enabled those who were championing our brand to get discount codes, free product bi-annually and be featured on our social media pages (and who doesn’t want their five minutes of fame???) Facebook and Instagram now have a shopping feature which can link to your website and those seeing your products on social media can shop the products at the click of a button, product tags can also be added to every post again making it a seamless process to get your customers to buy.
So what don’t I like about e-commerce? We are in an Amazon age, everybody isused to the rapid dispatch and delivery times that amazon offers, people also like the ease of shopping on Amazon (I am guilty of this myself) so you have to have awesome customer service, over deliver on this at all times, ensure goods are dispatched daily and with a reliable service provider. Try and use an e-commerce platform which has one click checkout (again we are lazy!! Nobody really wants to type in their address when we can click the side of our mobiles and boom the order is placed) I moved my e-commerce store from Wix to Shopify last year and haven’t looked back, this is one feature that shopify offered and is a huge advantage.
As an e-commerce owner you are constantly needed to refill your customer funnel, i.e attracting new ones to your business, this is no easy feat and you need to keep ahead of marketing tactics to find customers whilst nurturing past ones to come back and buy again, I sometimes think of this as a leaky bucket which you don’t want to dry out completely so you are frantically adding more and more water!!
Having an e-commerce store comes with little overheads and enables you to be far more competitive than most bricks and mortar stores but you do need to make sure that your stock control is spot on, if you have product that isn’t unique to you I can assure you nobody will wait for it but search elsewhere. Also make sure that returns are absolutely seamless, exchange or refund promptly and where possible try to offer this for free ( tricky I know when starting out) but it gives you a definite edge over your competitors.
Initially an e-commerce business can be started from home with just a laptop, some space for stock, a lot of patience and a sprinkling of determination. There is a wealth of information available online and certain aspects of the business which are more technical can be subcontracted if you are unsure (Search engine optimisation, copywriting, photography) Depending on your goals this can be a small business which is a side hustle for a little extra cash or turn into the next global brand (thinkGymshark)
If like us you have created a niche product then spending some time before launch (and before you tell the world about it on social media) to get your IP protected is a very good idea, you may wish to trademark your brand name, products and even consider patents if you have invented a new and novel product. This can be costly although new start-ups can often find free help and mentorship through government schemes or through your banks, There is actually so much on offer and I would suggest you grab and absorb as much free advice as possible.
If covid has taught us anything it’s the importance of being able to shop from the comfort of your home, e-commerce business was growing rapidly and covid and the subsequent lockdowns has accelerated that beyond belief.