You’ve finalized your product and your website is now up and running. Congrats! What's next?
There are hundreds of things that a new e-commerce business can do to grow and be successful. And at each step you will be faced with many options. Should you use social marketing automation and if so what provider should you use? What features should I have next on my site and do I develop that in house or buy existing software?
The discovery process can be very overwhelming and it will take much time and effort to figure out what are the best actions you should take for your business. In order to give you a head start, I’ve put together four actions that any new e-commerce business should undertake. Time and money are constraints, especially at the beginning, so this is a list of recommendations that are FREE, EASY, and High ROI
1.) Sell through an existing large marketplace.
While you’re working on drawing people to your site, take advantage of marketplaces that already have paying customers who are looking for new products. Getting set up on sites like Etsy, Amazon, Ebay, and Zazzle takes less than a day and does not cost anything upfront.
Doing this provides you with some additional revenue and more importantly provides further validation/feedback on your products and assumptions. It may also give you features that your site does not have yet such as the ability to take international payments or automate ads. Once your own site has established itself well, you can decide to close down your shops on these other sites.
2.) Establish partnerships with relevant sources online
Go where your target users are already going. There are many many places where people go online to follow their interests. And most of these sites/pages/channels/blogs are run by individuals who see it as a hobby and personal interest project. Today, anyone can start an online community and then grow that following substantially.
What you need to do is find the sites/pages that overlap with your target market and reach out to the individuals that run them. These people (usually the ones with small to medium sized communities) are very receptive to partnering with a brand in a win-win relationship. You can enter in to a commission agreement that is low cost and high ROI for your brand and the site administrator. As an example, if your product is organic snacks for children then you might want to send a message to this Stay at Home Moms Facebook page with over 28,000 fans.
3.) Become the biggest fan of your competitors
If you’re trying to figure out answers to all the questions you’ll face as an e-commerce business, someone else has already done it for you. The best way to decide how you should set up a new marketing campaign or create a loyalty program is to see how direct (and some indirect) e-commerce competitors are doing it. You won’t necessarily copy them, but it’ll point you in the right direction.
For example if you see a retargeted ad online from a competitor that follows you everywhere, then click on it and investigate what provider they’re using. If it’s that good that you keep noticing it, then you should use it too. Become their fans on social media and let them market to you so you can automatically get tips of how they operate. I always recommend to sign up to newsletters of your competitors. It’s a nice periodic reminder of what they’re doing and how they’re doing it.
4.) Listen early to your fans before you can’t
The bigger your business gets, the harder it is to get meaningful feedback from fans and to have the time and ability to make sense of it. When you only have dozens or hundreds of customers, it is the best time to institutionalize the process of listening to your users. If you wait until later, you’ll get distracted by other incoming needs and feedback will take a back seat.
Also, in the beginning you have the most assumptions on how your product will be received by the market. So far, only you, your team, advisers, and friends have given you feedback. This group of people loves you very much and will be unwilling to tell you the whole truth. Paying customers will not hold back.
Many e-commerce brand owners don’t get feedback because they don’t know how to start. With the use of Google Forms, SurveryMonkey, or Qualtrics, it’s free and easy to set up a simple (simple is key for it to be useful) survey. In minutes you can have useful and honest feedback rolling in to your inbox.