People often think it's easy to start up a new eCommerce venture. While it may seem a simple idea, there are many issues and areas that need to be considered. If I was starting a new venture this is what I'd be thinking about.
Before starting any new eCommerce venture I would be very clear on it's proposition. That is, what is the core offer or promise the venture is offering? The tools and the skills are available now to really develop any new adventure you can dream up. What's important though is making sure you have a very clear and compelling offer. Is your offer really unique or is it just another Trademe or Social Networking site? If your venture is not necessarily different from the other offers it will be very difficult to build a business.
Once you are clear about your proposal, think about how you can communicate that online. That is, how can you get the essence of your proposal through in three seconds? Online everyone sees to have an attention deficit disorder, so make sure you get your message through, loud and clear, before your prospect clicks off to another site. Also remember content is king. The worth of your site will be judged by your content; how it is presented and how easy it is to interact with.
You'll also need to think about how you are going to build your community. Where are your customers going to come from; who are they, what do they do, where do they hang out now? People have a perception that online everything happens instantly, but like all marketing, it takes a little time and hard work to build loyal customer base. There are lots of online marketing opportunities so it's important to be very clear about who your target customer is, so you can judge which opportunities are right for you.
It's important to think about how you can cooperate with your community. You should consider how you can incorporate customer reviews, blogs, podcasts, wikis or a forum. Web 2.0 features are hot right now. This is partly because the technology is maturing but also because people have an inherent desire to connect and share. By making it easy for your customers to interact with you and share information with each other, your level of transparency and trustworthiness will increase.
Lastly this is a list of specific advice I would give anyone who is about to go out and build a new eCommerce site.
- Think about what you want to do, be specific and write it down.
- List all the functionality you think you're going to need over the next two to three years and put that in your requirements. You might not launch with all the features, but it's good to know you can simply add these later.
- Draw rough line drawings of how you want your site to work. Do not worry about the design, make sure the flow makes sense. Include these as part of your brief so that the developers know exactly what they are building.
- Ensure your site will be Google (seo) friendly and do not assume that the website development company will know how to do this.
- Get proposals from a number of people (three to five). You will learn about how they work and you might be surprised by the variety in prices.
- Before you launch test, test, test. Get people that have not been part of the project to complete two or three common tasks, watch them try to complete these tasks without helping! Note where they have trouble and then look to improve these areas.
So if you're going to launch a new eCommerce venture, make sure you have a solid proposal, do your homework and stick at it.