So you’re taking the plunge — the harrowing journey from having an idea to having a fully functioning e-commerce store is on your horizon. But what steps are necessary to complete this journey, or even begin it? What should you focus on so as not to get bogged down in the minutiae? We’ve compiled the five most important steps you can take to become a titan of the e-commerce industry.
1. Brand is Everything
The single most important thing you can do as you’re starting your e-commerce store is to establish a strong, unique brand from the get-go. You’re never going to win on convenience because Amazon and Walmart are going to beat you there every time. You need something to distinguish yourself from those general stores. Think of it as a coffee shop. Sure, Starbucks is everywhere and is super convenient, but maybe you choose the local mom and pop place more because the atmosphere and service are better. You need to make your store have the atmosphere and service of the mom and pop coffee places because that’s what will keep customers coming back. Customers will choose your store over the big boys because of your brand.
2. Get SEO Right Immediately
You have a unique advantage as someone just starting out. You have the opportunity to optimize your appearance on search engines from the get-go. Rather than getting stuck somewhere on the dreaded second page of Google, you can use tools to focus on SEO while your brand is being built. There are several great tools available to better optimize for search engines, and by taking advantage of those early, you’ll be able to show up on the top of searches right as your store is coming into its own.
3. Always Be Fine-Tuning
From the beginning of your life as an entrepreneur, you need to be prepared to take a set amount of time per week to fine-tune and troubleshoot. There are going to be problems along the way, but you can prevent those from being massive problems by being ahead of them. Take an audit of your business every week to focus on pain points or possible future issues. By being prepared, you can keep everything from catching on fire down the line.
4. Build a Community
Your best friend in e-commerce is your audience. There’s not much point of selling if you’re selling to no one. Building and curating a great social media presence is a major key to success, as people resonate with brands who can communicate well and communicate often. This is why Wendy’s is always roasting people on Twitter, or why Moon Pies was stirring up drama during the solar eclipse. Building a social following creates a community that will flock back to you every time.
5. Be Patient
It’s an age-old adage: “Rome wasn’t built in a day.” Yeah, that’s probably a tired phrase, but it’s true. You’re not going to become a millionaire overnight. Amazon has famously always employed a strategy focusing on the long-term, rather than short-term earnings. You can’t expect to build your site and immediately start printing money. It’s a process and one that tends to take a while. If you follow the above steps though, you’re putting yourself in place to succeed. When that success comes, you’ll be ready.