Starting an eCommerce business is a great way to run a side hustle that will make you some passive income on the side, or just quit your 9-5 job altogether!
But there are more make-or-break details than you may have anticipated. As much as we’d like to tell you, it’s a matter of opening up an online store and raking in the cash – unfortunately, there are many moving parts to the story.
What things do you need to focus on to increase traffic, create conversions, and keep that upward trajectory going?
With more than 15 years of eCommerce business experience under our belt, SaleHoo is perfectly positioned to answer all those questions. Our team of experts has put their heads together to come up with our top 12 tips of must-do strategies guaranteed to make your store successful.
Why eCommerce Business?
ECommerce has been on the rise for a few decades now. Still, it was the COVID-19 pandemic that really accelerated things to new heights, with many brick-and-mortar stores moving online and some closing their physical stores altogether.
According to Shopify’s Future of E-commerce Report 2022, global e-commerce sales are predicted to reach a staggering $6.4 trillion by 2024, which is an increase of 490% over the last decade! The amount of money people are spending online is rising and rising, and there’s no sign of stopping.
Other than retailers realizing online commerce is the more economical business model, scores of savvy new entrepreneurs are flocking to the sector to make their fortune.
With technology evolving at record speeds and abundant, affordable, useful tools to support budding businesses, there has never been a better time to open an eCommerce business.
Unfortunately, this explosion in online businesses is also increasing the competition in the market and making customer acquisition more expensive. Luckily, we have a few tricks to help you on your path to success.
11 Top Tips for eCommerce Business Success
1. Target a Niche Audience
A ‘niche’ is exactly what it says on the label. It’s that little market pocket that your product fits in and the relevant audience connected to it.
You may be tempted to try and go for products that appeal to a broad audience to attract more customers, but bigger isn’t better in this case! The more specific your niche and the more pinpointed your audience, the easier it will be for you to target your marketing efforts.
Selling in a smaller niche enables you to really understand your customer’s interests and pain points and figure out exactly how your product(s) address those. This way, you can enhance your brand reputation and show your audience you’re meeting their needs.
Customers that feel heard and understood will become loyal to your brand, and that’s exactly what we want.
If you’re unsure how to decide on a successful niche, check out what these 6-figure dropshippers recommend.
2. Don’t Rush to Launch
We get it, and you’re impatient to get going and start making those sales.
But a half-baked launch will fail to capitalize on that early-stage excitement and sales uptick that new businesses experience right after launch. With a new brand on the market, customers are usually curious and keen to learn more. But if you haven’t all your marketing channels in place, this can backfire!
Picture this, new customers see one of your early ads and visit your website, but the checkout process is glitchy and leaves them frustrated. They’re unlikely to return! And since 93% of customers make purchase decisions based on the visual appearance of an eCommerce business website, you also want to have that sleek design finished to a tee.
So you see, a half-baked launch will not do anyone any good. Take time to perfect your website and check-out flow, set up and populate your social channels, and ensure all customer support and email collection logistics are in place.
You want to be in a perfect place to receive your first visitors, cater to their every need, and ensure you can generate leads from those first visits.
3. Get the Tools to Support Your Business
It’s 2022, and you no longer have to figure things out all by yourself! There are plenty of free and affordable business tools out there to streamline and automate many of the processes involved in running an online business. And while you might feel disinclined to spend more of your valuable start-up capital, think about the fact that your time is valuable too! If you’ll save yourself hours of work by using a tool that might cost you as little as your daily cup of coffee, then it’s a no-brainer.
Some great examples include:
- Store builders, e.g. Shopify,
- Email marketing and automation tools, e.g., Omnisend, free up to 250 contacts
- Social Media management and scheduling tools, e.g., free up to 10 scheduled posts/per month
- Dropshipping management and automation tools, e.g., SaleHoo Dropship, from $27/ month
- SEO tools, e.g., Ahrefs, from $99 / month
- Market research tools, e.g., SaleHoo Labs, $67/ year as part of SaleHoo Directory
4. Fine-Tune Email Marketing
If you’ve written off email as a thing of the noughties, think again. Email marketing is HUGELY effective, with an average click-to-conversion rate of 6.7%, which is almost seven times higher than that for Google Ads! And best of all, it won’t cost you a penny.
To successfully use email marketing to drive sales, you first need to build a significant email list. The best way to do this is through expertly-placed email collection forms on your website – in the footer and other site locations, and ideally as a pop-up too.
Once you start making sales, those existing customers will also be added to your email list, which means you’ll collect a goldmine of an audience who have already engaged with your brand to some extent.
Aside from sending out email campaigns (such as product promotions, newsletters, and holiday campaigns), it also pays to have email automation set up, which you can do using one of the aforementioned email marketing tools. This can include (but is not limited to) welcome emails, abandoned cart emails, and emails based on browsing data. Automated emails have an incredible click-to-conversion rate of 35%!
5. Focus on Content & Social Media
Brand-building has many facets these days. Gone are the days when a swanky website and a nice logo design were all you had to worry about.
People want to engage with your brand and expect to get a value above and beyond the products you sell.
Content is the game’s name, and it involves posting regular, on-brand content relevant to your chosen audience. This means thinking about what’s going on in your customers’ lives and what sort of things they may be worrying and thinking about daily – What can you write or post about that will resonate with them?
Ideally, you want to post content on your blog (housed on your website) and on your social channels, such as Facebook, Instagram, or YouTube (to name a few). You don’t need to be present on absolutely every social platform, but definitely on the ones that your audience frequents, which will depend on age group, gender, and interests. So do your research and figure out where your customers like to hang out online. This is where you want to meet them!
Are you a dropshipper and wondering what other Marketing tactics you should pursue? Check out this comprehensive article on Dropshipping Marketing Tactics.
6. Prioritize the Customer Experience
People are used to having smooth browsing and shopping experiences – and little patience for when things aren’t working. The stark reality is that there is so much competition out there that customers can jump to another provider when checkout is loading slowly, or they’re feeling frustrated with something.
So you need to be on top of your A-game to provide an engaging customer experience with minimal friction.
- Making a great first impression (i.e., your home page is 👌)
- Intuitive site navigation and easy checkout
- Being transparent about shipping and returns policies at every step
- Providing helpful support when needed (live chat is ideal)
- Communicating left, right, and center (e.g., frequent status updates for orders)
- Offering freebies or discounts where appropriate (for new or loyal customers)
In a world of increasing customer acquisition costs, customer retention is more important than ever, so ensure you’re looking after your people to create that customer loyalty.
7. Stay on Top of Your SEO
SEO stands for search engine optimization, and it means tweaking your website and its content to ensure optimal ranking in results (when somebody searches keywords relevant to you on Google and other engines).
SEO can’t be tackled using one technique only but instead involves a variety of strategies as part of a long-term approach.
It’s both a question of technical know-how and a matter of creating shareable content relevant to your users.
First and foremost, you want to focus on the content itself because the more people want to reference and link to your content, the more it will improve your rankings. In addition, look at keywords to include in metadata and flow text, as optimizing these is the second key to the puzzle.
There are plenty of free resources on the web to help with this, but as mentioned previously, tools like SemRush and Ahrefs are invaluable when wanting to tackle SEO.
8. Use Social Proof and Reviews
According to research, 92% of consumers worldwide prefer word-of-mouth recommendations over any other form of advertising.
And what is the way to use this preference to your advantage? Social Proof. Showcasing positive reviews and testimonials on your website can be a huge game-changer! It creates trust in your brand and will convince others to buy much more effectively than any product description ever could.
If you’ve been looking after your customers, they’ll be happy to provide you with some quick feedback on products and their experiences in your store – and you can easily do so using email automation. Less work for you! So be sure to set up feedback emails a week or two after order delivery confirmation, and you should have plenty of great reviews to display on your home and product pages.
In addition, consider running some user-generated content campaigns, such as unboxing videos and video reviews, as these tend to perform amazingly on social channels and garner lots of engagement.
9. Use More Photos and Videos
Did you know we process visuals up to 60,000 times faster than text? It’s not surprising that visually appealing sites perform SO much better than those filled with ungainly blocks of text.
It also goes a long way to explain the explosive rise of video on the web in recent years, not only in people’s browsing behavior but also in the marketing world. 2021 research shows that video content has an engagement rate of 92% – that is BIG!
So engaging visuals and video content are no longer optional for any new online business. It’s how people experience and engage with the internet today, and if you don’t follow suit, you’ll quickly be left behind.
Luckily, it’s no longer all about slick production and perfectly finished video – candid and in-the-moment footage a la TikTok and Instagram stories are what it’s all about. So don’t overthink it, but start creating moving images and increasing the percentage of visuals on your site. You’ll be sure to see a return of your efforts soon!
10. Cater for Mobile
More and more users are shopping online while on the go or scrolling on the couch. This is an increasing trend amongst the younger generations (think Gen Z and younger), some of whom don’t even own desktop computers anymore.
At present, about 40% of all online sales are made from mobile, but as the younger generations start coming of age and into the possession of credit cards, this is only set to grow.
Many brands are already designing mobile-first, which is an incredibly smart move. If not mobile-first, you need to ensure your website is mobile-friendly at the very least – something you can do by running Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test.
Some questions you need to consider for mobile-friendly website design are:
- How will the navigation work across different devices?
- Can you easily tap buttons etc?
- Do your images shine regardless of screen size?
- Is the checkout and payment flow optimized for different screens?
11. Analyze Your Data to Keep Evolving
Finally, don’t rest on your laurels. You’ll have a lot of data streaming in from the day you open the shop and start running ads. Ignore this data at your peril!
You want to use all these insights to keep reiterating and improving your site, customer experience, product range, ads, and more. The world never stops moving, and neither should you.
Running a business is a constant process of learning and improving, and only by being humble enough to accept the lessons of the market will you be one of the ones to make it in the long term.
As you can see, there are many different hats you need to wear as an entrepreneur in the eCommerce world. But with the motivation to succeed and the willingness to learn, we know you’ll pick things up quickly. The great thing about starting your own business is that you really know what you’re working for. And it’s going to be SO worth it in the long run!
If you’re still trying to figure out which direction you want to go with your eCommerce business or need some product inspiration, check out these 50 business ideas and products for 2022.
We wish you all the best of luck with your business!