It’s only fair that I warn you. If you don’t like hearing the truth because it hurts, you might not want to talk to me after reading this article, but I’m taking this risk because I think someone needs to tell it as it is. So, let me share with you a little eCommerce secret – there is no right time to start an online shop anymore. You need to stop making excuses for yourself or greet every success story you hear with “yeah, but I don’t have the money right now”. If you do that, it’s a sign you’re not paying attention to what is happening all around us.
So, let’s take a closer look at this common excuse – money. You might say that you don’t have the money to start right now – to build the website, stock up on products, hire developers, etc. You know why that is? It’s because you’re thinking about online shops in the wrong way, you’re thinking that an online shop is a brick and mortar shop with a website. Things have changed, that’s not the case anymore. Thinking something like that is what’s stopping you from seizing so many opportunities to build a profitable online business with little effort and even little money.
So, what’s an online shop these days?
Have you heard of AliExpress, Etsy, Amazon, Alibaba? Of course, you have, everyone has. They’re some of the biggest eCommerce businesses in the world. For the regular consumer, they’re ‘online shops’, but for marketers and business people they’re something more. They’re ‘marketplaces’. Producers use them to sell their products using their infrastructure. You know what they’re thinking? “Why should I only sell my product on my website when I could also sell in on another website, where people are coming to buy complementary products?”, and that’s smart thinking. So what appears to be an online shop, can actually be a company selling other people’s products.
Also, with the rise of dropshipping, a big percentage of the online stores out there don’t even have an inventory. They order the product from the producer once a consumer places an order for it.
Nowadays you can build an online shop so easy and you don’t even need to have your own products. Basically, the only two things you need to have your own eCommerce business is a website and a brand, and you need to know that they’re not the same thing.
If you’re using our ShopABot software you’ll know you can just connect your Amazon account with it and have a store up and running relatively quickly.
Confusing your website with your online store’s brand can spell trouble and leave you missing out on one of the biggest opportunities… While your website is just a virtual space where consumers can check out the products you’re selling and promoting, your brand is what makes them stay on your website, what gives them the confidence that they’ll find what they’re looking for, and what will make them decide if they’re going to buy.
Creating a Website
You can approach the creation of the website for your online store in many ways. You can hire developers to build a custom CMS for you and integrate payment systems or to customize and improve an eCommerce software solution for your store or you can go for something that will cost very little money. The only functionalities a website needs to have is to offer info on the products, allow people to add products to their cart, and then check out. That’s it.
Building a Brand
If you REALLY want to maximise the benefits of the ShopABot system you should look into building more of a brand instead. Building a brand is a more complex process and this is what is going to determine the success of your eCommerce business.
And because this is so important, I’m going to share with you the 5Ws Framework that will help you build an eCommerce brand in just a couple of hours.
The 5Ws Framework
This framework used by world-class marketers and business consultants helps you figure out who your ideal consumer is and what attributes your brand needs to have to be appealing to that consumer.
#1 The Who
Who do you want to serve? Who is that person you want to sell stuff to? How old are they? Where do they live? How much do they spend online?
#2 The What
What do you want to sell to this person? What needs do they have that could be satisfied with products you could sell? What niche do you plan on choosing?
#3 The When
When are they usually buying the products you want to sell? Do they buy them any day of the week? Are your products only to be used for special occasions? Do consumers need to be in a special state of mind to make the purchase? Are they waiting for discounts to buy the products you want to sell?
#4 The Where
Where do you want to sell your products? Do you want to sell products that get delivered internationally or just in your own state? Where do they usually make similar purchases? Why are they choosing those places?
#5 1a The Why
What are the consumer drivers? Why are people buying those products from a certain place/store? Do they need those products or are the products creating the demand?
#5 2b The Why Not
What are the consumer barriers? What would stop consumers from buying the products you want to sell? What would make them abandon the product in their shopping cart? How could you avoid that?
With these answers in mind, you can start planning and you can be sure you won’t get distracted by website functionalities. You need to focus on your customers and their needs, not on shiny new widgets, plugins, or any other things. You can worry about that after you know for sure you’ve chosen the right market, the right products, the right positioning.
Here are the differences between building your website and building your eCommerce brand in a step by step mini-guide:
Building a Brand
Building a Website
|1. Choosing your target market.
You need to know who you want to serve. Knowing who you want your customers to be will make everything else much easier. Do you want to serve a local or a global audience? Are they Millennials? Are they older, non-tech-savvy people? Do they have a disposable income? Are they influenced by pop culture?
|1. Choosing the right software platform.
What software will you use for your website? Will you build it from scratch or are you going to use a ready-made solution? Do you want to manage it yourself or pay people to manage it for your, like developers or web admins or project managers?
|2. Choose a positioning and a brand name.
Determine your brand positioning by filling in the following sentence: My online shop is helping __(who are you helping?)__ solve/enjoy/make the most of __(what problem/activity/opportunity you’re trageting__) with the help of __(the products you’ll sell)__.
After you have your positioning, you’ll need a brand name that will make sense for your what you’re doing.
|2. Choose an URL and website name.
Once you know what you want to sell and to whom, you need to pick a URL and a website name. It should be something that truly captures the essence of what your business is about.
E.g. Sam’s Furniture, Flip Flop Shops, Seriously Silly Socks
Note: You can’t really come up with a name like Seriously Silly Socks without knowing who your ideal customer is and knowing they want to buy hip, new, playful socks.
|3. Create your offer.
What are the products you’re going to sell? Are you going to sell products as an affiliate under a store with your own brand name? Are you going to produce them yourself? Are you going to source them from another country?
You need to know how many and what products you’re going to sell and what product categories you’re going to focus on, at least in the beginning.
|3. Create the website structure.
What structure is your website going to have to accommodate your offer? How many categories will you have? How many product pages? Do you have all the info you need to set up your product pages? Is your target going to know how to use your website to make a purchase or are you going to need to offer them more support?
|4. Think of your brand’s personality.
What is the tone you’ll use in writing the content for your new online shop? Is it informal? Is it funny? Is it the voice of an expert or that of a friend? How will you name your categories to help people find the products they want and further express what your brand is about and for whom it was created?
|4. Start adding content to your new website.
What can you edit? How long will your copy be? How do you plan on offering people access to more information than what you’re offering on your product pages? Where are you getting your content from? How often will you have to update it?
|5. Think of your brand’s personality.
What is your brand archetype? What colours would you associate with it? Will you create a logo or a visual identity for your brand?
|5. Tweak visual style.
What will be the main colour you’ll use throughout your website? Will you integrate a logo?
Besides what you’ll do on your website to communicate what your brand is all about, you can also do off-site things. For example, the people at Seriously Silly Socks that I’ve mentioned before, encourage their customers to post pictures of their purchases on their review system so they could feature them on their website. This also constitutes great social media content.
If you’ll remember just one thing from this article, I hope it’s going to be to dismiss all of your fears and excuses for not starting your own eCommerce business. You have the tools to build a great brand for your store and with easy testing and customer feedback you can adapt and adjust and make sure you’re constantly straightening your path to bigger profits.