Getting Started With Ecommerce: A Guide

More than 1.8 billion people shop online across the world. This number is steadily increasing as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, with more and more shoppers turning their attention to the internet in lieu of brick-and-mortar stores.

As a natural result, ecommerce is rapidly growing. In the next few years, global ecommerce is expected to bring in $4.97 trillion: a 400% increase over seven years. This means there could be more than 2.14 billion online shoppers worldwide by 2021

What Is Ecommerce?

Ecommerce, also called electronic commerce or internet commerce, is the buying and selling of goods or services online, whether it’s through an app on your smartphone or through a website. 

Having an online ecommerce presence opens up a realm of possibilities for your business, beyond being able to reach and sell to the billions who make use of it. Some examples of ecommerce include:

  • Selling retail goods
  • Selling wholesale goods
  • Dropshipping
  • Crowdfunding
  • Subscription for a product or service
  • Selling physical products
  • Selling digital products, such as courses, templates, or media
  • Selling services

Interested in making ecommerce a part of your business? Let us do it for you.

How Can Ecommerce Help Your Business?

It’s easily accessible for customers.

In the age of instant gratification, being able to take advantage of ecommerce is crucial. Your target audience could have your product or service at their fingertips—it’s up to you to make sure they can find you. This ease of use also has a huge impact on the potential size of your consumer base: without ecommerce, you need a physical presence near your customers. With it, you can sell your goods and services to almost anyone, anywhere.

Ecommerce enables faster growth.

It is easier than ever for your business to reach new audiences around the world thanks to the internet. Using digital marketing tactics, like making use of social networks or paid advertising, you can increase your awareness while instantly gaining new customers.

Ecommerce can help lower costs.

Operating an online ecommerce store is no doubt cheaper than running a brick-and-mortar store. Without the need to pay for a physical store and employees to staff it, costs can be cut drastically, and you can scale up your operations without needing to make significant investments in property or workforce. This makes it a lot easier—and cheaper—to operate your business.

Ecommerce allows for customization.

Technology has come a long way. Almost everything online can be automated, from email newsletter promotions to customizing your digital marketing strategy for targeted users based on their traits or history of interaction with your business. This level of personalization can help your business to reach its audience in a way that feels more intimate and considerate than ever before, both increasing the likelihood of a sale and giving a boost to customer loyalty. 

Tips for Starting in Ecommerce 

Step 1: Research

Take a look at your competition. Make note of the tactics they deploy, what they sell, and how they drum up interest and site traffic.

Remember that 85% of people trust online reviews. Take a look at reviews for competitors’ products or services. Getting reviews of your products from unbiased customers is vital for a healthy stream of online sales. You might consider setting up a contest or giveaway in the future for customers who leave reviews of your product or service.

Ask yourself these questions as you research:

  • How is your competition marketing their product/service? 
  • How will you set yourself apart from the competition?

Be sure to look into your target audience as well:

  • What demographics make up your target audience?
  • What do their previous purchasing behaviours look like?
  • What is your target audience saying about similar products or services?
  • What statistics are relevant to your audience?

Step 2: Prepare

Now it’s time to strategize and plan. With your research done, it’s time to put that knowledge into use. 

Remember to set some goals and key performance indicators (KPIs) to track your progress. 

Ask yourself these questions as you prepare:

  • What will you prioritize (customer service, digital marketing, brand awareness)?
  • What does the timeline look like?
  • How will you grow your audience and increase engagement?
  • What does your budget look like, and how will it be divided between the areas of your business?
  • How many sales do you need to break even, and what might it cost to deploy ads to get that estimated number of sales?
  • What do your projected revenues and expenses look like?
  • Where will you get your product or service from?
  • How will you know if you’ve succeeded in achieving your goals?

Step 3: Get Set Up

Now we get to the nitty-gritty. 

If you haven’t established it already, branding for your business will be vital—and difficult to change once you’re up and running. You’ll also want to create a logo for your business: check out our guide for logo design here. Be sure to check out our product photography guide as well to find out how a photo can make or break a sale.

Setting up ecommerce can be complicated, so do plenty of research on the various ways you can get your products available for purchase online to find the solution that suits your business needs. 

What platform will you be using to handle payments? How about fulfillment? For many new businesses, Amazon could be the answer to both questions: consider setting up an Amazon Storefront, if setting up your ecommerce platform seems intimidating. If it doesn’t, consider Shopify, which allows businesses to set up web pages with ecommerce functionality with little effort.

If you already have a site built in something like WordPress, there are plenty of options you could turn to to get ecommerce enabled on your site faster. WooCommerce is one ecommerce plugin with users ranging from small businesses to large enterprises, but you’ll need some tech expertise to get it up and running. 

Step 4: Launch & Market

Congratulations! Once customers can purchase goods and services from you online, you’ve successfully gotten started with ecommerce… but that’s just the start. To be successful with ecommerce, now your attention needs to turn to digital marketing. 

Digital marketing is a mandatory element of any business that seeks to be profitable through online sales. Understanding the basics of Search Engine Optimization (SEO), copywriting, product photography, and website design can help you set up your online store efficiently and effectively. Knowing how to do these things right can save a lot of time and money in the long run, ensuring you optimize available resources. For example, optimizing your website for mobile can increase your reach—59% of shoppers are more likely to buy from a business if they can shop that business’ products or services on mobile.

Hiring SEO experts can also be beneficial for your business. Google searches can lead to an increase in organic website traffic for ecommerce businesses, and 51% of online shoppers say they research a product or service on Google before they purchase it online. 

It would also be wise to have your email newsletter logistics set up before launching. You can even promote your product or service before it goes live, and take exclusive email sign-ups. Your new mailing list can become a loyal audience you can send news and discount codes to, increasing website traffic and customer loyalty.

Consider outsourcing your marketing—experts can help you get results. Be sure to check out our digital marketing guide and content development guide for how to increase engagement and awareness for your business.

Your ecommerce journey has just begun. Why not call on the experts?

Step 5: Analyze and Review

If you have Google Analytics set up on your website, you can easily track website traffic and other useful data. 

Ask yourself these questions to reflect on your ecommerce strategy and figure out how to improve and grow:

  • Who is looking at or sharing your content?
  • Is your traffic improving, declining, or flat?
  • What type of product or service performed best? Which brought in the most traffic or most sales, if that was your goal?
  • Where did your users come from, and which channel converted users more often?

Use your answers to these questions to inform your strategy. You’ll also want to use your sales data (the location of which varies depending on your ecommerce platform) to uncover insights and establish a more fruitful direction for your business over time. 

Let Us Help

In addition to advising ecommerce guidelines, Imagine Better Solutions also helps with digital marketing, website design, copy and content development, and search engine optimization (SEO). As a company that strives to be a one-stop shop for ease of management, we have all of your web needs covered.