Congratulations on becoming a store owner. Building your own business is a fun experience that pays off – literally. Being a new entrepreneur is exciting because everything is new. However, sometimes, new entrepreneurs get a little too excited about the wrong things. As an experienced entrepreneur, I’ve made my fair share of mistakes. That’s why I created these 25 ecommerce tips for new entrepreneurs like you, so you can get on the right track from the beginning and actually make some money on your new store.
Ecommerce Tips (#1): Experiment like your business depends on it.
To really succeed, you’re going to need to experiment a lot. You’ll need to create ads for different products. Test different copy, formats, and images. Experimenting with ads is what will eventually bring in customers and drive sales. Once you’ve created profitable ads you can start experimenting on your website. Many people focus on improving their website first. However, you don’t know how customers are responding to certain features if you don’t have any yet. Avoid making assumptions about your customers. Be open to being wrong about what really works – you won’t know the truth until you look at the data.
Ecommerce Tips (#2): Don’t pocket the profits just yet.
It can be tempting to keep any profit you make. However, if you want your business to grow, you’ll need to reinvest money into your business. Money makes money. Instead, of making a purchase to buy new equipment, spend your profit on advertising. You’ll probably want to create several $5 ads at first to see which product people respond to best. However, once you’ve found your winning product, you’ll need to spend a lot more than $5 to make the kind of money people dream of. If your goal is to make $3000 profit each month, you’ll need to spend about $3000 on ads, which will bring in roughly $9000 in revenue. Boosted Facebook posts convert best for my business but you’ll need to find the type of ad that works best for you. By reinvesting the profit for several months, you give your business a chance to grow and become sustainable. Eventually, you’ll be able to live off the money you’re making.
Ecommerce Tips (#3): Commit to a schedule for consistency.
When starting a new ecommerce store, you’ll want to follow a consistent schedule so that your customers can know when to check back. For example, if you add new products each week, you should do it on the same day of the week so people check back on your website on that day every week. If you commit to a blog, adding posts on the same days will encourage people to keep checking back. As soon as you become inconsistent, you start to lose your customer loyalty.
Ecommerce Tips (#4): Build out your channels from day one.
As soon as you’ve bought your store domain name, start building out an audience. You might start with posts on social media to grow a fanbase so that when you launch you have an audience ready to buy. Once your store is launched, you’ll want to start collecting email addresses and building referral traffic. By doing this from day one, you’ll grow your customer base faster. By focusing on building out your social media, email list and referral traffic, you’ll likely need to spend less on ads over the long-term. You’ll be able to promote your content to your audience through your own channels.
Ecommerce Tips (#5): Start building relationships with relevant influencers.
It takes a few months to find the best influencers to promote your products and even then it’s not guaranteed. From personal experience, I found a great influencer to promote my products and less than six months later they had been doing so many sponsored posts that they were no longer effective. Finding a great influencer is a lot harder than it looks. Sometimes an influencer has a high price but it doesn’t convert to sales. You might want to check out Famebit for access to the best influencers.
Ecommerce Tips (#6): Make sure customers have access to relevant information.
When starting an ecommerce store you’ll want to make sure your customers have access to everything they need to make an informed purchase. You’ll want to include shipping and return information so that customers are aware of the policies before their purchase. You’ll always want to make sure you have a visible contact page so that customers can easily contact you should an issue or question arise. A great resource that covers everything you’ll need to complete on your website is the How to start an eCommerce Store in Less than 30 Minutes Oberlo post.
Ecommerce Tips (#7): Put thought into your copy.
Many Oberlo users make the mistake of not adding copy when importing products in their store. The bullet points listed are there to give you product details yet don’t help convert sales on their own. Writing a description about the product and selecting the most valuable bullet points will better help you achieve more sales. People often read the copy if they’re on the fence for a product. By writing a short paragraph detailing how the product benefits your customer, mentions features while also explaining how to use the product you’ll be better able to persuade your browser into purchase. For example, if you sell dresses on your store you might mention how great they’ll look at their next event, you might mention how the fabric showcases their figure and recommend shoe colors or jewellery looks that would best complement the dress.
Ecommerce Tips (#8): Make your website visually appealing.
Your entire website should be very visually appealing. Your product pages should have multiple product images showcasing different angles and uses. Your homepage should have an attention grabbing banner image that allows the customer to picture themselves with the product. Even your blog posts should be very visual. You should have several images, gifs and maybe even a video in each post to separate bodies of text.
Ecommerce Tips (#9): Find an ecommerce brand to look up to.
When starting out it’s important to seek a mentor. However, sometimes having access to successful ecommerce mentor can be hard. People don’t necessarily want to share their niches, ad templates and answer questions that can be easily Googled. You can join communities to seek advice on occasion. However, the most effective way to succeed is to find an ecommerce brand you aspire to be like and model your brand after them. For example, if you want to be a customer-centric business you might model your store after Disney. If you want to master the art of branding you might model your business after Dollar Shave Club. If you want to create a mega marketplace you might model your store after Amazon. You don’t need to copy their niches or style to succeed, you just need to find the patterns you love about a particular online store and apply them.
Ecommerce Tips (#10): Use Peek User Testing to get feedback on your store.
When you launch your new store, it’s important to get feedback on it. The biggest mistake I see entrepreneurs making with this is that they seek feedback from other entrepreneurs in public communities. The problem with this is that you’re sharing your niche and products with your competitors. While an entrepreneur can give you great insight, you don’t want to rely on feedback from people who might actually be competing with you. Never reveal your niche to another entrepreneur. With Peek User Testing, you can get a free review of your desktop and mobile website to better understand how to improve it. You can also pay a small fee for a more detailed review.
Ecommerce Tips (#11): Be specific with your product categories so customers can easily find exact products.
In the early stages when you only have 15 products it can be tempting to lump all of your products into generic categories. However, as you grow your store, you’ll want to be a bit more specific in your product categorization. Having product categories such as ‘Women,’ ‘Men’ and ‘Children’ don’t do much for SEO purposes and yet they’re common to find on many stores. What’s worse is that some stores lump all of their women’s fashion under ‘women’ with no subcategories at all. Most people don’t like browsing an entire collection to find out that they don’t have dresses in their store. Look at how Amazon organizes their product categories. You can find very specific items with ease. The easier you make it for a customer to find exactly what they’re looking for the more likely they’ll buy from your store.
Ecommerce Tips (#12): Be on multiple social media platforms.
When it comes to social media, many stores make the mistake of only being on one platform. For example, some may only post on Instagram and focus their marketing efforts on there through influencer marketing. Others are exclusively on Facebook as they find Facebook ads works great on their store. However, using a combination of platforms might be slightly more work but gives you a competitive advantage. A competitor can see you’re only on Instagram and focus their efforts on a wider range of social platforms which eventually leads to their business out-performing yours. Being on about 3-4 social networks is often manageable. Don’t depend on one platform as one day that platform may disappear and you’re left with nothing.
Ecommerce Tips (#13): Create unique content.
If you’re dropshipping products, odds are you need to find a way to stand out among your competitors. The easiest way to do this is by creating unique content. Pumping out blog posts several times a week is a great way to build an audience, educate visitors while keeping your website looking fresh and up to date. You can also create videos online to build your brand. Luxy Hair created YouTube videos which led to their massive success. Today their YouTube channel has over 2.9 million subscribers. Unique content can make your business much more profitable.
Ecommerce Tips (#14): Offer free shipping.
It’s important to test free versus paid shipping. Yet, when you have a new store with a small social following, it’s better to offer free shipping to incentivize the purchase. People may be weary of paying a company they don’t trust yet so offering free shipping makes it a smaller risk. About 50% of online stores offer free shipping which puts you at an advantage over the others when you offer it. With AliExpress, many suppliers offer free shipping or ePacket which is a low cost express shipping service, which allows you to offer afforable shipping without a huge impact on your margins.
Ecommerce Tips (#15): Make marketing your main focus.
Marketing and advertising bring in the money so don’t waste your time on perfecting your store. You should be actively posting on social media daily, if not several times a day. You should be contacting magazines and blogs about featuring your products. You should have a budget for advertising. Writing blog content regularly will help your website rank. By putting your store out there, you better your odds of finding more customers.
Ecommerce Tips (#16): Create ads from day one.
Ads bring in the traffic that converts into customers. You’ll need to experiment with different products to find your winning ad, however, once you do its smooth sailing. If your goal is to make $9000 in revenue you’ll need to spend about $3000 in ads. The startup ad costs will be difficult at first so feel free to start a smaller budget and build up to it. Remember it takes 3-5 days for an ad to optimize. If you keep reinvesting your profit into your advertising your business will grow quickly. Within about 2 months, one of my stores was making $15000 in revenue a month and growing each day. It takes a few weeks to figure out which products will be your best sellers and to figure out if your product price is sustainable for ads. You can use this dropshipping traffic calculator to better understand how much traffic you need in order to reach your financial goals.
Ecommerce Tips (#17): Learn to recover abandoned carts.
Experiment with different abandoned cart apps and email formats. You won’t be able to recover every cart. However, even if you can convert between 1-5% of them, you’ll be better off financially. The abandoned cart rate, on average, falls between 60-80%, according to Baymard. While it may be normal to experience abandoned carts, you shouldn’t stop doing everything you can to make the conversion happen. You should have the first email sent within six hours of the cart abandonment to better help the conversion. You should also send at least 3 emails afterwards trying to recover it. You can offer an additional discount to help convert the sale. You could start with a 10% discount and in your last email offer a 15% discount if they haven’t recovered it yet.
Ecommerce Tips (#18): Talk to your customers and get to know their needs.
Building relationships with customers is time consuming but really important to do. A simple thing I do to get better insight into my customers is email them individually. I’ll manually email each customer and ask them how they’re enjoying the product they purchased, if there are any other types of products they wish our store had and if there’s any type of blog content they’d like to learn more about in the niche. I might throw in a VIP discount code as a thank you for their feedback in the first email I send as an extra incentive to provide this information. Not all people will reply, but the ones that do, will help you better understand your customer’s needs. It also helps you better serve them.
Ecommerce Tips (#19): Start building links.
To reduce ad spend while increasing revenue, it’s important to build external backlinks. You can do this by promoting your products on relevant and popular blogs or magazines or by writing guest posts on blogs. The more sources you have driving traffic to your website, the less you’ll spend on ads. For example, even if you write a guest post on another blog, you might not be featuring a specific product but you may get clicks to your website. Once you’ve gotten clicks to your website you can retarget them with your best selling product which will be a lot cheaper than trying to find new customers. When my store was days old, I was able to get a couple of sales using this method.
Ecommerce Tips (#20): Think of ways to put your customer on a pedestal.
If you treat your customers right, they’ll keep coming back. Stay in touch with your customers. Show them that you appreciate them. You can host a ‘Customer Appreciation Event’ where you give them first access to new products or an additional discount. Sending them thank you notes letting them know how grateful you are that they’re a customer while giving a small free gift or discount code goes a long way. Brainstorm things you can do for your customers that’ll make them happy while strengthening your relationship with them. Check out Help Scout for more customer appreciation ideas.
Ecommerce Tips (#21): Set SMART goals.
Whether you’re planning a financial goal or milestone for your store, it’s important to make sure that you have a SMART goal. SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timed. You want to ensure that your goals are well-defined. You also want to make sure you know when your goal is achieved. You need a goal that is founded in logic and that you have the resources you need to make the goal attainable. Lastly, you want to make sure that you set a time frame that allows you to achieve the goal without any extra time allocated. An example of SMART goal would be: Make at least 10,000 in revenue in one month by December 31, 2017.
Ecommerce Tips (#22): Don’t hide behind books.
Procrastination is a funny thing because sometimes people don’t even realize they’re doing it. It’s great to be active in ecommerce communities, read blogs and take the occasional online course. However, you need to realize that you can’t hide behind your books. You need to work on your store. The sales aren’t going to come in if you spend more time “researching” than working. You’re going to learn so much more by trying something out and Googling the next step when you get stuck. You’re going to start succeeding after you’ve made a few mistakes. Mistakes give you clues about what success should really look like. So figure it out as you go along, bang your head against the wall if you have to and keep working at it until you hit your financial goals. You’ve got what it takes to succeed on your own. I believe in you, so you should believe in you too.
Ecommerce Tips (#23): Take advantage of free trials on apps to find the right ones for you.
As a new store owner, experimentation plays a big role. I highly recommend trying and testing out the free trials of several apps in the Shopify App Store. Figure out which apps are most useful now before you get even busier running your store. Of course, you’ll want to ensure that you have traffic and sales coming through to figure out which apps are most effective. I recommend starting with apps that help grow your business like upsell and abandoned cart apps.
Ecommerce Tips (#24): Make sure you have upsell offers.
Getting your first sale can be very exciting. However, if you have upsell offers on all of your products from day one, you prevent missing out on easy sales. Customers who already have their credit card out are a lot easier to sell more products to than trying to attract new customers. Not only will you increase your average order value, but you’ll also make more profit per customer making your ad spend even cheaper. A trick I do on my store is that I provide a similar product as an upsell and throw in a free + shipping gift if they purchase now. My store has multiple upsell purchases each day – it’s one of the factors that helped us become a 5-figure a month store so quickly.
Ecommerce Tips (#25): Just start… right now.
Stop delaying the launch of your ecommerce business. Yes, you’ll make some mistakes. But you’ll also recover from them quickly. Many only dream of starting a business not realizing how easy it is to make it a reality. The success stories you read of people starting a business and making five, six, or seven figures are real. With dropshipping, it’s so easy to succeed. I launched an Oberlo store about two months ago and it’s already making 5 figures a month. I’m just an average person like you. Believe in yourself because you’ll succeed faster if you do. The longer you wait, the more competitive your niche gets. So stop reading this blog post and get back to work.