E-commerce. It’s been more of a buzzword in the past few years than ever before.
Why? We’re extremely comfortable being online. Thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, there’s a “new normal” of virtual workplaces, Zoom gatherings – and of course, online shopping.
While online shopping has always been an option for consumers in this tech-forward age, it has never been more popular than it is today. How popular? Well, over 2 billion people shop online worldwide.
This being said, it’s no surprise that ecommerce brands are popping up left and right.
The founders? Blossoming entrepreneurs looking to quit their day jobs, serial entrepreneurs who have come across yet another business idea, or even students looking for a side-hustle.
Perhaps you have a passion that you’re ready to take to the digital marketplace?
If so, you’ve come to the right place.
What is e-commerce?
Simply put, e-commerce is the act of selling products online. Easy-peezy, right? Not exactly.
E-commerce has plenty of moving parts. It may start with an idea around a product – but in order to get packages out the door, founders need to think about selling channels, picking and packing, shipping costs, and more.
And did we mention e-commerce is more than just shopping on a laptop or desktop computer? Consumers can now purchase from their favorite brands without having to switch devices via mobile commerce (shopping from a mobile device) and social commerce (shopping directly on social platforms like Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, and more).
Before we even get into selling channels, we need to take a big step back and look at the smaller details when building a brand.
Without further ado, here are 5 key aspects of building an e-commerce brand.
Building an e-commerce brand: 5 tips for success
1. Start small
Rome wasn’t built in a day. For e-commerce brands, this especially rings true. The most successful brands find their niche first, with only one or two products. Then, cultivate a community of followers who are deeply interested in what they have to offer.
Take Mugsy for example. They started with a problem and a solution. The problem was the age-old Goldilocks assessment. Slim jeans – too tight. Straight jeans – too baggy! The solution? An ultra-breathable, moveable, comfort-first pair of jeans.
Mugsy designed their jeans according to comfort and style and ran with it. And now? They’ve moved on to shorts, chinos, tops, swim trunks, and more.
But without their expertise in jeans and early devotion to just one product, they wouldn’t have built the loyal customer base that they have now.
2. Know your audience
Audience. Audience. Audience.
Know your audience. It’s one of the best things you can do as an ecommerce brand. Everything you do should revolve around who your audience is and what they’re looking for. Your audience will point you in the right direction in terms of selling channels, marketing, and more.
For example, if you’re selling high-value houseware, you shouldn’t be targeting college-aged or high-school students who would rather buy less fragile items for their dorm rooms.
Likewise, if you’re selling Gen Z style apparel, like fast-emerging e-commerce brand Edikted, you should be exploring less-traditional techniques like developing a branded hashtag on TikTok.
3. Get on social media
No matter who your audience is, or what your products are, you’ll need to make your way onto social media. Not only is it #trendy, but it’s also an incredible way to get content out there, expand your brand reach, and in return, boost your organic traffic.
TikTok’s incredible algorithm sends videos soaring into the tens of thousands of views without any spending whatsoever. With the right approach, you could easily be reaching potential customers without carving out hefty funds.
That means more money in your pocket for other important facets of an e-commerce business like optimized operations and customer support.
4. Define your fulfillment strategy and
What is your fulfillment strategy? Are you considering a subscription? Are you offering free shipping?
Once you begin shipping your orders, you’ll have a better sense of:
- 1) Where your packages are going
- 2) Who they’re going to
- 3) What the customer experience is
This information is vital in determining the best fulfillment approach as you move forward.
Believe it or not, packaging plays a huge role in the customer experience. It’s one of the only ways to connect with your audience post-purchase, and it can make or break the entire buying journey.
Consider this: would you rather get a blank box with zero add-ons, or a colorful, mindfully designed package with a welcome note and a discount for future purchases?
Branded packaging delivers an unboxing experience that your customers won’t forget.
5. Partner with a 3PL
At some point, if you make it past the first handful (or more than handful) of e-commerce orders, you might want to consider partnering with a tech-forward third-party logistics company (3PL).
A third-party logistics company will help scale your brand seamlessly with tech integrations that can provide real-time order management and inventory visibility.
So, instead of sitting amongst hundreds of empty boxes in a garage or second bedroom, your inventory will be peacefully stored in a 3PL warehouse, and sent to customers with technology that integrates right into your online shopping cart (such as Shopify).
Orders shipped without all the extra hassle. Sounds like a deal, right?
The golden question: Should I start my own e-commerce business?
Or, maybe the better question is… “Am I ready to commit to running an e-commerce business?”
Running an online store is hard work. It takes time, energy, and lots of planning. It’s not something that you can leave alone for a while and watch the magic happen.
Actually setting up a website is relatively easy. So easy, that almost anyone can do it. However, once you get into the details with packaging, shipping, and building a strong online community, it all adds up!
Are you ready to make the commitment?