So, you decided to start your own eCommerce business. That is great, but you think you have it all figured out, and you feel ready to give your best shot and impress with the huge success you are going to make, without any help! You are about to hire some web developers, some really great designers, launch your online shop, and everybody will be rushing to buy from you since you have the most awesome products imaginable!
Six months later, you are broke, you have lost all the money that were prepared for the “big online success”, your brand is still nowhere to be seen online, and your business is on the verge of going bankrupt!
This is a pretty common scenario that often hits the brands and retailers who rush head first into the stormy waters of eCommerce without the proper plan and without consulting the experts.
Is there a way to avoid this scenario? Sure! Are there any shortcuts to success? Hardly!
If you really want to do things properly, you need to hire a brand consultant that will be able to help you weather the storm, and to direct you towards the open water without getting your ship wrecked on the icebergs and reefs along the way.
Now seriously – there are so many dangers that are lurking under the surface of what seems to be a pretty straight forward thing as launching your eCommerce website that it could discourage anyone who is left to deal with these things on his own. The important thing is – you never have to be, and never should be alone during this journey. There are enough marketing, eCommerce, and branding consultants that it is quite possible to find the right people to help you and do everything properly, ending with the big success that was ironically mentioned in the first paragraph, but this time for real. There are a few steps you will have to follow while consulting with them in order to get things really figured out, and these steps should include all of the following elements:
• Determining the goals
• Defining the channels you will use
• Choosing the eCommerce platform
• Devising marketing strategy
• Defining the branding scope
• Go to market plan (launching sequence)
• Post launch support and development
The first, and the most important step includes defining goals. It is not the same if you wish to slowly enter the market with the fail safe approach behind it, and go out with all guns blazing trying to make an instant impact.
Defining these goals will determine all of the following steps and give you the scope of the future eCommerce operations you wish to pursue. Of course, the goals need to be determined in a way that your budget can support in the long run. Creating sustainable plan and aiming for the reachable goals is what will make sure that your success is guaranteed.
There are many elements that will help you make the decision on the goals, and your consultancy agency will be able to help you determine them in a sustainable way.
Defining channels you will pursue is of utmost importance from the very beginning. If you intend to just create an online store and maybe connect it to eBay or Amazon, there is no need to overspend on expensive solutions. On the other side of comparison, you can’t really opt for something from the lower end of the offer in case you wish to run business on marketplaces, within your own online presence, and via physical stores at the same time.
Defining the geographies where you wish to sell, the channels you will use, and the approach of combining those channels will determine the tools you will require. Simple operations require simple tools. Full multichannel and omnichannel approach requires a lot more than that.
If we are to try and generalise things, the middle solution that can fit both ends would be Magento eCommerce platform, but there are still better options both in the lower and higher segment. It really depends on your needs and you will need the help to compare the needs with the available features of each platform.
Picking the platform
We have already spoke about choosing the proper eCommerce platform and evolving eCommerce business in a safe and reasonable way in some of the previous articles. Here, we will just mention the most important moments for making this decision.
You need to adjust the platform to the goals and keep it in the reasonable scope. Going for the cheapest option is never a good idea if your mid-term goals are high. Also, going with the top solution that is very expensive is equally bad idea. You need to pick the platform that will do the trick and allow you certain freedom and upgrading potential, while being affordable and within your reach. It is relatively easy to upgrade it if the need arises, but before that – there is little use of a high quality super expensive tools.
Making the assessment what is good for you and what is either too weak or a complete overkill is something you most probably can’t make on your own. Once again, there are experts who know how to make the evaluation, and you should hire them to help you make the decision. They will also give you all the explanations along the way, so you will be able to better understand not only why the said platform is the best option for you, but will also allow you to get a deeper insight in the entire eCommerce world.
Once you have figured out what needs to be done from the technical side of the job, you will need to figure out how to make yourself known to the digital world. There are almost countless variations of viable marketing strategies that include various marketing channels.
Some of them like SEO and social media marketing are unavoidable, but even within them, there are things that can generate quick brand awareness, and those which would only burn your marketing budget without providing any kind of ROI.
Getting mixed up and confused in these issues is very easy. Not only that the matter is very complex, but the internet is also full of “experts” and “gurus” offering their knowledge in the same way the lotions against baldness have been sold since the dark ages. Of course, these self-proclaimed experts usually don’t have the slightest idea how to help you out, and in most cases they will just spend some of your money and a lot of your time while providing nothing substantial in return.
You should avoid these magicians and try with the real experts who have been consulting many clients before you. How do you recognise them? Rather simply – they will not promise impossible things, will be able to explain all the dangers you will face, and will give you the evaluation that is pretty much realistic.
Together with them, you will be able to determine marketing channels and strategies, the budget you will need for that operation, and the projected ROI.
Branding consultants are the rare flowers, at least the good ones. This segment of business is really delicate as you need to take care of the brand awareness, brand reputation, and brand’s reach, all at the same time, and via all imaginable channels. Everything you do as a business, will reflect on the brand in a good or a bad way, and digital environment really underlines all the good things, but the bad ones even stronger.
Generally, the negative things about any brand are easier to rank well than the positive ones. The entire logic behind all search engines is focused in this way, so brand reputation management is something that needs really close attention once you enter the world of digital commerce.
Of course, the best brand consultants will know how to utilise all channels and to make you really shine, with the minimal investments. They will be able to say which social media to use and in what way in order to present yourself, they will know how to organise your SEO campaigns around both positive and negative KWS, and they will know how to exploit every single opportunity to make you recognisable. If they are really, really good at what they do – you will be directed to use other people’s reach in order to make yourself known and established.
You can find a word or two on this topic in our previous articles related to marketplaces and digital marketing strategies.
The launch sequence
Choosing steps to enter the world of eCommerce is the next thing that will need consideration both from you and your digital commerce consultants.
The sequence for launching certain segments of your online business (which market goes first, whether to start with marketplaces or standard eshop, which marketplaces should be prioritised, what kind of marketing campaign has the priority, etc…) determines whether you will be running your business on sustainable principles or you will be splashing the cash to make someone other happy (marketing platforms, eCommerce platforms, other vendors…).
If your digital marketing consultants are good, they will know how to help you, not only based on the previous experiences, but also based on the in-depth devised strategy for testing channels. Minimal investments with maximum effects are again the key.
Post development life
Once everything is up and running, you seem to be quite happy about the life. All works and the sales are happening. It looks as if there is nothing that could spoil the joy of really making it out there.
This is the last trap on your route! Being happy and content leads to being complacent. It can work for some time, but be reassured that your competitors are not taking a nap. They are plotting how to take you out and take over your customers.
The last thing you need to really take care of is to devise a plan for the post development period. Once you are up and running, you don’t want to start trudging. You need a plan of further improvements, and that plan needs to cover both the near and far future. At least some idea about the future directions are mandatory, but they should be as detailed as possible. Like in a game of chess, you should always try to think several moves ahead.
Once again, the consultancy agency you hired (if they are good) will be able to help you with devising this plan.
If you take heed of all that has been said here, there is little chance that you will fail. Most probably, you will be successful to some extent. That extent will be then defined by the quality of actual products you are selling and demand for them, but there will be no chance to have something good and not be able to sell it because some part of the digital experience hasn’t been covered properly.
If you are in need of good consultancy services in UK, feel free to contact us. We have quite a substantial experience in advising businesses on all the issues we have mentioned in this article, and a proven record of success! We will be really happy to help YOU go the same path and become our regular clients for the years to come!
In the previous articles posted on our blog, you can find all of the mentioned chapters explained in more detail, so feel free to take a look at them and see if there is some more interesting data for you in those. Of course, nothing beats the direct communication, and there is no better way to see and hear what we can do for you than giving us a call. Contact us via our website or via phone at any time that suits you and we will be more than happy to discuss your plans with you and provide you with all the help you need.