A lot more goes into starting an online business than creating a website. Here are four things to consider when starting an e-commerce venture.
It's admirable to want to launch an online business, but without the proper preparation, it's already doomed to fail. Thanks to rapid advances in technology, nearly anyone with an internet connection can start an online business, but keeping it afloat and reaching success is another ordeal. It takes the right amount of skill, planning, resources, and time to create a business that withstands hardship and achieves its objectives.
Nasdaq estimates that by the year 2040, 95% of purchases will be through e-commerce. People are leaning more toward online purchases as opposed to buying items in person because it offers a personalized and straightforward customer experience specifically tailored to users' needs.
To launch an online business, it's crucial to:
- Know your target audience
- Take advantage of outsourcing routine tasks
- Polish your customer service strategy
- Hire team members with the appropriate skills
In this article, we explore these four tips to help you launch an online business you're proud of.
1. Analyze your target market.
The answer to most of your business issues lies somewhere in your audience. They are what keep your business afloat – they're who you need to cater to if you want to reach your goals. It's essential to know as much about your audience as possible, because this will help you create a conversion strategy centered around how to serve them. That's how you move them down the sales funnel so they turn into paying customers.
The easiest way to analyze your audience is by creating buyer personas, or detailed customer profiles that list out important details about your target market. This includes age, income, education level, pain points, buying behaviors and more. It gives you insight into your customers' motivations for purchasing so you can create content, products and services that are relevant to their needs.
There are several ways to go about getting information about your target market. If you have an existing email list, send subscribers a survey about their experience with your brand. Pose the question to your followers on social media and set up polls. Study the audience of your competitors to gauge their customers' needs, interests and problems.
2. Delegate certain tasks.
You'll quickly realize just how much work goes into starting a new business and how little time there is in a day. There's so much to do and not enough hours to do it. Too often, business owners waste time throughout the workday performing routine tasks that a machine could perform.
One of the easiest ways to save time and effort is by outsourcing routine tasks. This could either be through marketing automation where software handles these tasks or outsourcing to an employee. When you outsource, you make room to excel in other areas of your business, cater to customers and refine your marketing strategy.
A recent study found that 84% of consumers want businesses to treat them like individuals rather than sales numbers. However, this is difficult to achieve when you have too much on your plate. If you don't have the time or resources necessary to cater to your target market, your online business will fail quickly.
If you aren't sure if you should outsource, ask yourself
- Do you spend too much time on this task?
- Do you procrastinate when it's time to complete this task?
- Is this something you dread doing?
- Is there someone who could do this better?
If you answer yes to most of these questions, it's time to hand over the work to someone else.
3. Make customer service a priority.
The most important part of your business is your customers. If they aren't interested in what you have to offer or aren't impressed with the customer experience (CX) you provide, you won't be able to reach your objectives, make sales or move them through the sales funnel. That's why you need to make customer service a priority.
A whopping 96% of customers say that customer service is a critical factor in determining how loyal they are to a brand. Do you remember a time you were excited to purchase a product only to change your mind because the service you received from the company was subpar? It's an all too common problem businesses face, because they're more focused on creating sales than building authentic relationships. If you aren't prioritizing your audience, your business is sure to fail.
Offer your audience the best customer service experience by being present and actively listening to their concerns and needs. Engage with them often. Send out customer surveys or questionnaires looking for feedback on how you can serve them better and offer them more value than you are now. Go the extra mile to make them happy so you stand out in their mind as the company that made a mistake but efficiently made up for it.
4. Hire efficiently.
Eventually, as your business grows, you'll find yourself loaded with more work to do and less time to do it. Even after outsourcing, there are still tasks to complete and deadlines to meet, but you're already swamped with other matters. Hiring the right employees to get the job done makes all the difference in how your business performs and whether it's able to meet its goals.
You might feel rushed to hire people right away so you can build your personal brand quickly. However, scanning for the right people is essential. It's wiser to spend time, money, and resources hiring the right person who will deliver results long-term rather than to invest in someone without the skills needed for the job.
Take time to thoroughly interview candidates, get to know their behaviors and gauge their work ethic. Hard skills are vital, but soft skills are just as imperative, which include:
- Critical thinking
It's more obvious for employers to search for candidates with hard skills because, for so long, experience and hard skill trumped everything else. Nowadays, recruiters are paying more attention to someone's ability to work with others, handle conflict, remain positive and show leadership. You can always learn new technical skills, but if you aren't good with people, that takes time to build.
Know what you want when going through the hiring process. Write down a list of qualities you prefer your team members to have, such as attitudes and mindsets. Can they think quick on their feet? Are they organized enough to meet deadlines? Do they have enough self-motivation to complete tasks without micromanagement?
Launching an online business is no easy task. It requires tons of preparation, planning and quick decision-making. However, if you take the steps necessary to simplify the process, it could take a massive weight off your shoulders. Analyze your target market, outsource tasks, provide quality customer service, and hire for success to get the best results.
If you want to reach a high level of success, it's vital to plan ahead and know what your customers want. Taking the time to do things for your brand that will benefit your future is essential if you're going to achieve your business goals.