Small Business E-commerce: How to get started

Posted on February 13, 2019

Small business e-commerce has been on a dramatic rise over the past decade. There are no signs of things slowing down in the 2020s, either. So, if you’ve ever wanted to start your own business, the opportunity is right in front of you.

First and foremost, you must know what you want to build and you must have passion. If your passion is more about making money and being your own boss than it is a particular product or category, that’s not a bad thing. Once you get started, you’ll develop a passion for what you’re selling because it’s the key to getting what you ultimately want.

If you have the idea and the passion, you have the foundation. Here’s the rest of a quick guide on how small business e-commerce is done:

Don’t Fear Competition

Don’t be afraid to get started in a niche that has a decent amount of competition. That’s a good sign there’s a strong market in a category.

If you choose an area that seemingly has no competition existing, you’d better be certain there’s an audience. There’s obviously reason to be wary if no one appears to be existing in a niche. All the passion in the world can’t save you if there’s no market.

But if there are competitors, and you possess that extraordinary amount of passion, use what they’re not doing to your advantage and carve out market share.

Narrow the Focus

In the beginning, there’s no reason to roll out a bunch of products that range across many different audiences. Instead, you should be doing quite the opposite. Find that one product — or a very small number of similar products within a category — and get started from there. 

Keeping these things simple in the early stages won’t divert too much focus away from understanding how to survive and gain market share. Gaining a strong grasp on those aspects is ultimately what will lead to a successful business. Otherwise, you’re just relying too much on hope.

Be Stubborn

If you’re not willing to keep pushing when uncertainties arise, don’t start. You’ll do nothing but waste your time. Successful small business e-commerce requires mistakes are made and solutions are found in order to ultimately have a high level of success. In order to do this, you need a unique level of stubbornness to ensure you keep pushing when things get difficult.

“People always ask about traits that are desired in entrepreneurship and in the startup world. Stubbornness is one I rarely see mentioned but is so crucially valuable,” says Engine co-founder Blake Puryear.

“Being able to take a hit to the chin, pivot and keep pushing your company forward is flat-out necessary. Being stubborn means that hit only makes you more determined. That’s how you win. That’s how you scale. Be stubborn.”

Listen to the Customers

An e-commerce store cannot own the relationship with its customers unless it is listening to those customers. Before you even start pushing out a product, engage with the audience you’ve identified. Those initial conversation should shape the direction you take. 

Once that’s established, keep your ear to the ground. Those initial product ideas should only be about 20 percent of what ends up being your business when it’s thriving. The other 80 percent should come from what your customers want and what you discover they need.

Build From the Affiliates

As your business begins to grow, you must pay close attention to your most loyal customers. In those early stages, these are the potential affiliate marketers that can vault your brand toward long-term success. 

The prime affiliate marketers should be those who have a strong affinity for your brand combined with a strong influence on their close circle of friends and family. You must incentivize those affiliates to mobilize on your behalf. That could be through anything from developing products centered around their feedback to providing store credit for each customer that converts through their affiliate link.

It’s really nothing more than incentivized word-of-mouth marketing. It’s also affordable. Affiliate marketing doesn’t have to cost you anything upfront. 

How Engine Can Help

At Engine, we can help small business e-commerce thrive with our platform of the future. We can also help your business with the most convenient email marketing automation tool you’ll find anywhere.

If you’re interested in hearing more about how either software can help take your business to new heights, feel free to set up a call with us by clicking here or reaching out via email. We want to help your business thrive and we would be happy to clearly explain how that’s done.