The saying “if i build it, they will come” no longer applies when you dive into the world of eCommerce. However, if you sell & ship products, subscriptions, tickets or practically anything today – you can’t afford to sit idly by while your competitors are killing it online. While it is crucial to sell online, you may wonder how long you will have to wait to make a profit with ecommerce.
Back in 1994, Amazon started on a shoestring with Jeff Bezos investing $10,000 and using his garage as the company headquarters. While you could argue that he got incredibly lucky, there is no doubt that some of the early strategies he used contributed to this success. Amazon went public in 1997 but the company didn’t make their first profit until late 2001.
Not everyone aspires to be the next Amazon or wait seven years to turn a profit. Even so, some of the tactics Amazon used can be a great benefit to any ecommerce business. If you are thinking of taking the plunge into ecommerce, here are some tips to help shorten the time to making a profit.
Developing a Budget
Whether your online store is an extension of your brick & mortar, or you are starting a new venture – you need to have a budget. Beyond normal business operating expenses, you will need to fund three primary categories.
Don’t buy the most expensive solution thinking that will help sales. It will not. Technology changes at breakneck speed. That’s why it makes sense to start small and grow as your sales grow. Jeff Bezos used doors from Home Depot for desktops in his garage. There are some things where it makes sense to cut costs and others where you need to spend more.
Choosing an Ecommerce Platform
Unless you are selling hundreds of thousands of products, you can use a platform like WooCommerce (free, open source) without any disadvantage to your online business. You can also use a SaaS (software-as-a-service) solution. In my experience, there are pros and cons to both.
Open Source versus SaaS
WooCommerce is a free, open-source plugin used with WordPress. It allows scalability by letting you add features as you need them. Because it is open source, it needs more frequent maintenance and updates compared to most SaaS solutions. Web developers love this solution since you can be as creative as you want, without spending a ton of money on the technology.
SaaS solutions (like Shopify, Big Commerce) enable you to go-to-market quickly, but you are forever “renting” the store instead of buying it. You are forced to start over if you decide you’ve outgrown the features they offer. In some cases, these solutions also charge a percentage of each sale you make. While that may be okay just starting out, it can become a nightmare in the long-term.
You should spend your time & budget freely on copywriting, photography, and design. These are critical to your early success. The presentation to your target audience will make or break your endeavor. Focus on easy navigation, beautiful photography, and compelling messages.
SEO, both on-page and off-page will take an enormous amount of time and budget after you launch. If you build your online store with a strong SEO-friendly structure, it will save you money in the long run.
Your website is responsible for converting visitors to customers. However, if you are just starting out and don’t have traffic – marketing becomes the most important element you need. There are a variety of methods you can use including SEO, paid search, email marketing, etc.
While every website benefits from SEO, it is a long process that requires months and sometimes years to produce the desired ROI. Avoid tying your budget into a strategy that is one dimensional. Use a blend of strategies that are designed to give you both short-term and long-term results.
Paid Ads: good tactic especially in the beginning to attract interested prospects
SEO: an essential strategy that boosts your free traffic but takes a long time to work
Email Marketing: low-cost marketing tactic but it takes time to build an audience
Make a Profit with Ecommerce
The time from launch to profit may be short for some and long for others. However, every business can do things to shorten the wait. For more profitable ecommerce tips, G3 Group contributed to this article on Upcity.
If you are thinking adding ecommerce to your website, contact us for a free consultation.