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June
20

Top 10 Tips To Running a Successful Online Business

New to the world of online retail? Two words: Endurance and Commitment

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If you are trying to build an online business to make more than just “beer money”, it’s going to take endurance and commitment to lead to success. Even those with successful brick and mortar backgrounds find online retailing a challenge, especially when it comes to learning all the different technology it takes to make it happen.

Here’s a high-level view of our
Top 10 Tips for Internet Retail Newbies:

  1. To Niche or Not to Niche.  Many ecommerce merchants choose to offer product niches within a general industry, known as specialty sites, because it can help get more relevant search results and achieve higher organic placement long term.  Do your research and crunch numbers both ways to determine whether you choose the niche site route or a single, larger site.
  2. Relentless Product Sourcing.  Selecting the right merchandise providers can be a fun, but tedious part of starting an online business. Before you start, you’ll need a registered business name and tax ID. Real wholesale suppliers need proof you are a legitimate retailer before they can give you access to their actual wholesale pricing structure and set up an account. Also, decide you’re your business structure will be:  buying inventory in bulk, dropshipping, or a combination of both. Once you have access to their product information, be sure to negotiate for the best possible discounts, and check the product margins to eliminate those not worth selling.
  3. Pick the right shopping cart platform for your needs.  Be sure to research all the different options available in shopping cart platform providers and decide what best fits your business model, time and budget. Keep in mind that a bad decision will cost you in the long-run. Merchants who have made the switch will tell you that changing e-Commerce cart platforms can be akin to getting divorced…expensive and drawn out. Here are some independent comparison sites to help you choose:
    http://www.thinkecommerce.net
    http://www.ecommerce-platforms.com
  4. Designer vs. Template Website.  There are many, many choices when it comes to design…the first one is to decide whether to use a customizable template or hire a designer – generally that depends on your budget. Be sure to put some time and money into a professional logo as this is one of the unspoken triggers that can cause shoppers to not trust a site. Select a color scheme, plan out your website header and footer (template look for the majority of pages), then work on a product page template. Break everything into small, bite-sized pieces so you don’t get overwhelmed. If you need design resources, just contact us…we have talent waiting for you.
  5. Stick With the Basics of Merchandising.  Group like products and be sure to categorize in a hierarchy that can be drilled down to the more detailed sub-category. If unsure how to approach this, check on Amazon or Google to see how they structure their shopping marketplaces. Most carts let you place a product in more than one category.
  6. Photos are Everything.  When was the last time you bought something without seeing it first? Be sure your vendors are making it easy for you to retrieve images for your site. Generally speaking, an image is best on a white background, without watermarks or logos, and sized with at least 300 x 300 pixels. If you need images retrieved or resized, contact us.
  7. What Else Will You Need?  Plan out the other architecture you may not even realize yet that you will need such as e-ProductPlug for automation of product data retrieval, order management software to handle the order flow and shipping, accounting software and more.
  8. Open for Business…Time to Tell Everyone!  Marketing doesn’t just happen. You may have created the most amazing website on the interweb, but without proper marketing…no one will ever know! A good place to start is by listing your products on comparison shopping engines and marketplaces…contact us for more information.
  9. Customer Service – a Lost Art.  Generating repeat customers is the goal, but having referral customers is a bonus…both of which reduce your cost of acquiring a customer or your marketing costs. Only a good customer shopping experience from beginning to end will accomplish this!
  10. One Last Point…Ask Lots of Questions!  Utilize your shopping cart provider’s online chat or support ticket system. Check your cart’s forum for people who have been there, done that and you’ll quickly learn that it usually takes at least 18 months to start reaping the rewards. There aren’t many overnight success stories out there in eCommerce…endurance is the key.

Though there are a lot of details involved in getting started with your webstore, don’t let it overwhelm you. Stay focused on the tasks needed to get your site up, running and making money. Try not to let the fear of learning new technologies make you cower in the corner. Be prepared for the long-term commitment it is going to take. Come back often to read our stuff, like us on Facebook, follow us on twitter, and most importantly, continue to learn how to create that great company you have always dreamed of.

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