It’s a great time to jump into the e-commerce business. Before you start designing your online store, Ro Bhatia, LimeLight’s VP of Marketing shares some insights he’s learned over the years to help you avoid the pitfalls and save you time and money.
The implementation of e-commerce has vastly impacted the way that the customers interact with merchants and vice-versa. An obvious example of this is: you no longer need a physical location to sell a product, all you need is a website. Because of this fact, anyone and everyone can participate in selling goods online – so the e-commerce landscape is now extremely crowded and comes with plenty of competition.
And now, e-commerce is evolving yet again.
After being dominated by Amazon, we saw traditional e-commerce go through a shift. This change is probably a little less apparent to the untrained eye.
Next generation e-commerce is what we in the e-commerce world call it. It’s the new and improved model of e-commerce that’s the focus of today’s successful online retailers. It puts customers and the customer experience at the forefront of the merchant’s mind. It’s brilliant but has a lot of little challenges which many don’t learn to navigate. And as a result, fail.
The biggest mistake you could make is thinking that if you build it, customers will come.
Instead, what you need to be thinking about is how to advertise yourself. How do you make sense of your product?
I see a lot of entrepreneurs––especially young entrepreneurs––struggle with this.
Again, e-commerce is an incredibly competitive landscape. If you only focus on customer experience, you neglect the importance of having a user acquisition strategy. Despite popular belief, a lot of what’s going on in the e-commerce space is not that scalable.
To be successful, you need do your research and have a marketing plan.
Your research should be a pivotal foundational effort you can lean on. You’ll need to analyze what others are doing right – and wrong – in the same space as your company.
First, find out if you have domain expertise in a particular product. If you have authority in a specific area, utilize it. Secondly, find out if you have competitors. You probably do. Competition means you’ll need to find a unique niche. How is your product better? What makes your brand stand out? Why is your story one-of-a-kind?
And last but not least, you need to research and find out your ability to generate a profit selling your product.
Your marketing plan, like all plans, should provide the groundwork to set your product into motion. The very first piece to the puzzle is establishing who your target persona is. Who are you selling to? Who is this product intended for?
Once you know your target audience, you can set up a way to reach them. How do you want your target persona to discover you? If they use social media, that might be a great place to start. But there’s also SEO, paid testing, nonsocial media related ads, and much more. The advertising options are limitless; you just need to find out which option is going to work for you.
A large part of marketing––and thus your marketing plan-––is storytelling. How do you want to tell your product or companies story? You can say it through social proof or tell it on your about page, but choose somewhere that is easily accessible for your users.
Most importantly no research, marketing plan, or even business plan should be finite.You need to test and iterate. Learn what works through trial and error. Try something and adjust as needed. Especially in the beginning, you’re going to have to try, fail, learn, adapt and then rinse and repeat as needed. As e-commerce continues to flourish, make sure you don’t get caught in the weeds of the past.