It’s super exciting when you have an idea for a collection of products and you want to embark on the e-commerce entrepreneurship. And bravo to you, too, for the courage to do so. Because everyone knows how volatile and competitive the market is, so if you are going to tread that path (it is assumed) you really have something to show for and to stave off the evil eye.
However, this volatile and competitive market has swallowed up a lot of other retailers who, despite having quality products, didn’t account for certain criteria, or perhaps didn’t plan for contingencies too well, and inevitably tanked.
In this blog we highlight a few points that you need to look at first. And you will find that, despite being a retailer, all 5 pointers fall under the register of marketing! Yes, if it’s online you can’t ignore this category any less than if it weren’t.
- Disregard market analysis
What makes your product special? Does it cater to a need? Who is your customer? Who is your competition – either directly or tangentially? Do you need to tweak your product a little to fit the market better? Can you cater to a surge in demand? Are you catering to customers on omni-channels (like mobile apps) or just through the website? Do you have enough money to see you through the initial roller-coaster phase of the business and the market?No? research Research RESEARCH! You can’t go in guessing and second guessing.Before you plunge head first it is usually advisable to make sure the water isn’t shallow. Create a buyer persona. There are marketing research tools available to help you understand demographics, customer trends, content keywords etc. Social media is the happening place to find out what is trending in your field. Explore the market and plan for your big entrance without collision. This is the only way you will understand how and which part of the market you can capture.
- Ditch or lack a business model
Just the way you plan for the design and functionality of your product, you need to create the blueprint for your business model. How are you going to operate? Once you have finished your market research, you will have a rough idea as to where you potentially stand in the market. With this knowledge you will be able to project your position – where you can flex your muscles, where you have beer muscles, and where your weak links are. This is supremely important because, it is common when you start out to either have an inflated notion of your strengths or a deflated bravado. When you have a sturdy business model, it means you have broken down the strategy into smaller and more detailed parts, understanding pain and power areas, and put thought into different aspects of how the business may pan out and ways to account for as many things as you can possibly think of. It is amazing how muddled situations grow (as Mark Twain put it) sensibly sharper and clearer under the attrition of thinking them over! This prevents you from fizzling out from lack of stamina to cope with the market or from being winnowed out.
- The platform is not in kilter with your business needs
The tools are available in plenty, but it’s up to you to use them decisively. There is no sense in loading your website or mobile app with rich features that don’t serve much of a purpose, or scrimping on add-ons that really ought to be there. This is the base of the entire functioning of your online presence. You know what your business is and need to have the foresight to predict what your customers would want or need. So the platform you choose must be rich in features that allow the flexibility of functionality and the expansion for growth in the future. Does it make your order management easy to handle – purchasing, invoicing, multiple payment options etc.? Does it afford simple navigation, give you control over the look and feel of the design, tracks and reports, supports increases in demands and technology updates?You can gauge the performance and success of your company using primal metrics & KPIs to quantify your progression, regression or digression.
- Customers aren’t buying
Assuming your product is excellent, there are still plenty of reasons for this.
- Customers probably haven’t heard about you. You may still be optimising distribution channels to reach them. Remember to offer them access to your site from locations convenient to them.
- You’re pricing yourself out of the market. Ideally you should have used your research time to price your product right. However, you can still use feedback forms, surveys and analytics to gauge where you stand with your customers. You should adopt strategies for value based e-commerce pricing, that take into account the value appended by consumers and the reasonable profit you can score.
- Your nurturing strategy is poor. The marketing funnel – AIDA – moves through the gears like this: create awareness in visitor, indulge interest, guide desire, and qualify for action (sale). If your strategy doesn’t cater to all levels of this funnel, you will break links that must organically lead a visitor to becoming a qualified lead.
- The content you are using to engage them is either misaligned or it’s rudderless content. That means that it is either not tailored right to resonate well, or is irrelevant to them. So the content that is intended to be educational and informative and used to gain their trust and connect with them, will work in complete reverse. That’s why you use a buyer persona to re-align it.
- Your marketing and sales are uncoordinated. Geez! They are not separate departments working in assembly-line fashion. They work hand in hand as an organisation’s endeavour as opposed to a departmentalised effort.
- You’re forgetting to pay attention to customers you already have. It’s less expensive to invest in old customers than to gain new ones. Use a customer retention strategy to hold on to older customers and increase your average order value.
Dismal product presentation and callous design
The biggest drawback of online retail is that customers lose out on the touch-and-feel factor before buying products. If a brick-and-mortar takes such elaborate efforts with merchandising and showcasing, you would have to put in equal (if not more) effort for the same. Work your website! Your content may be king, but it is the overall design and presentation of the products that can draw in browsers. Because a picture speaks a thousand words. Your product must be displayed clearly without any elements that could seem deceptive. The description and other details must be easily available without being intrusive. Throw in a demo wherever possible. Nothing works like a good demo. Make it fun, add a story, add reviews… And whatever you do, remember to keep it crystal clear and decluttered, while highlighting only the important aspects. With apps, just make sure the overall user experience of mobile utilisation is improved.
And that’s 5 big little steps for you to beat back the e-market!