Few people would deny the tremendous impact that the internet, technology and computers have had on our lives over the last 30 or so years. Since Tim Berners-Lee fired up the world’s first website in the CERN laboratory in Geneva on August 6th, 1991, the web has grown and matured to impact pretty much all aspects of modern society.
The internet has changed modern life
These days, the internet is an ingrained part of modern life, and we now use the web for everything from research to staying in touch with family and friends and watching media. However, while the internet has transformed almost all aspects of how we live, it could easily be argued its effects have been most profound in the way businesses operate and, crucially, how they now sell to us as consumers.
The unstoppable growth of e-commerce globally
There can be few faster and more successful aspects of the web than the now burgeoning online shopping sector – and it shows absolutely no signs of slowing. In 2014, e-commerce globally was suggested to be worth around $1.3 trillion. By 2021, that figure had mushroomed to $4.9 trillion. Furthermore, the e-com growth phenomenon is forecast to continue with a further 50% increase in value over the next four years, making the industry worth a colossal $7.4 trillion by 2025.
Tips to make a successful e-commerce business
With such staggering figures involved, it can often be tempting to think starting an online business is as easy as a walk in the park. However, it’s worth remembering, that competition online is now fierce. As is always the case with any business sector, there is only a limited pie that needs to be divided by the various companies vying for customers in each market so gaining a foothold can prove difficult, particularly if you enter a crowded space.
Below are a few tips that could help you succeed with your online business, whether you’re just starting out or already up and running.
There’s little point trying to compete against the like of the Amazons of this world and attempting to be all things to all people. It’s worth remembering, Amazon took just short of 30 years to reach this point of such market dominance – plus persistence, funds and brilliant minds to get to where it is now.
Rather than trying a blanket, all-encompassing approach to your sales, in almost all cases, you are far more likely to succeed if you try to identify a unique selling point – something that no one else currently sells or, at least, in a way that no one else offers. Before starting your venture, you should do some online research to work out your potential rivals and establish how crowded that particular market is.
Going niche will always give you a head start and a competitive advantage
So, for example, if you have an idea for a store that specializes in women’s fashion, you might look to importing one-off dresses or designer heels that can’t be found anywhere else – particularly compared to the more mainstream stores that will tend to buy in bulk rather than seeking out smaller, individual, more unique manufacturers.
Alternatively, if that approach seems like too much work, perhaps think about offering deals or freebies that might offer you a competitive edge without breaking the bank (for example, a free hairband when someone buys hair products or a money-off voucher once a certain purchase tally is reached). Anything that makes you stand out and offers added value to your consumers will help set you apart.
Make sure you choose the right delivery company
In internet terms, you’re only as good as your last sale so you should ensure you provide the best and most professional service possible. While your website and the shopping experience are vital to the process of transforming site visitors into paying customers, there’s no better way to alienate a customer and potentially miss out on repeat purchases than through delayed or canceled orders. These days, there is a massive range of courier jobs sites that specialize in jobs for couriers – so, really, you have no excuse for giving clients poor delivery.
Remember the power of social media
Perhaps more than any other technology, social media has up-ended the world of marketing and advertising and made it easier than ever for firms to reach out to clients and establish long-lasting, genuinely worthwhile relationships. As a general rule, you should at least have a presence on the major players (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube) but don’t discount some of the smaller services that might prove even more useful for your particular market. For example, a retailer working in the above example of female fashion may well find that Pinterest, with its 77% female subscriber base, could prove the perfect promotional platform.