"E-commerce isn’t the cherry on the cake, it’s the new cake"
- Jean Paul Ago, CEO L'Oreal"
As a midlife professional (50+ worker) it's smart to begin developing ways to supplement your income as you enter the latter stages of your career. One of the ways to do that is through E-commerce.
E-commerce, also known as electronic commerce, is the buying and selling of goods or services using the internet. E-commerce is often used to refer to the sale of physical products online, but it can also describe any kind of commercial transaction that is facilitated through the internet.
There are many different types of e-commerce business models, however, the most popular are -
As a 50+ professional you're probably wondering if you should start an e-commerce business. The short answer is YES!
It's a great business to start for two reasons - 1. e-commerce is a growing rapidly and 2. it's relatively to easy to get started.
E-commerce is growing
In 2019, the US Department of Commerce found that eCommerce sales increased by nearly 15% in the United States alone.
Projected e-commerce growth chart (source: Statista)
Beyond the projected growth in the US, global ecommerce sales are projected reach $4.8 trillion in 2021!
Getting started is relatively easy
The barrier of entry to e-commerce has lowered significantly in the last several years. There is a fast growing list of services and tools that make starting and growing an e-commerce business easier than ever.
Unlike opening a physical store, the initial investment to get up and running is relatively small (under 1K) and e-commerce stores scale extremely well.
When you start an online business you can start small and test different products to learn what your target market is willing to buy, build up your stock, and focus your marketing efforts, and refine your branding over time.
An e-commerce business is not unlike a traditional retail store - to be successful you need a solid business idea along with a target group of buyers that are willing to buy your products/services.
When researching your idea, consider the following three questions -
If your answer is "NO" to any of those questions - reevaluate your idea by conducting additional research.
Google Trends - is a tool that gives you the ability to validate the market demand for your product or service by analyzing the popularity of top search queries across various regions and languages.
Another important factor in this process is to decide on the type of business you want to start -
PRO TIP - Most new e-commerce entrepreneurs begin with a B2C model - as the start up costs tend to be lower and the marketing to a target market is a little more straight forward.
Once you've decided on your business idea (i.e., what to sell), the next step is to setup a business entity, which is comprised of the three things below -
A business is important for two reasons - 1. it protects personal assets in the event you or your company is ever sued; and 2. it helps you track and organize your revenue and expenses which are important for knowing the profitability and tax liability for your business.
Every business has a brand. The better the brand, the more successful the business is likely to be. Although is e-commerce is a rapidly growing sector it is filled with store of all types and many of those may be competition for your new business.
How will your potential customers know the difference between your business and that of your competitors? Through your brand.
Author and marketing expert, Seth Godin defines a brand as -
the set of expectations, memories, stories and relationships that, taken together, account for a consumer’s decision to choose one product or service over another.
The three essential elements of a successful brand are: Promise, Positioning, and Performance.
Image credit - http://designbull.co.uk/3-core-elements-every-successful-brand-should-have/
Once you've completed the planning for your brand, it's time to bring it to life.
How do you do that?
Once you've developed your brand the next thing to do is to design and build your website. The key requirement for the successful launch and growth of an e-commerce business is a website.
Get a domain name
Although you can sell items on social media its not the recommended option if you're serious about building a successful and scalable e-commerce business.
Your website will be the heart of your business as it's the primary way that you'll - promote, sell and distribute your products and services.
That being said, the most important decision in planning the development of your site is deciding what products/services your will offer. The three most common options are -
Once you've decided what you're going to sell, that will help you determine how you're going to build your website - you can either take the do-it-yourself approach (DIY) or you can hire someone to build it for you (done for you).
The chart below summarizes the differences in costs, time and quality between - DIY and DFU. Generally, DFU sites that are completed by professional website developers are more expensive but of higher quality than DIY sites.
|Do it Yourself||Done for You|
|Cost||$200 - 400+||$1500+|
|Time||16 to 40 hours||80 -160 hours|
|Quality||Poor to Good||Good to Excellent|
However, that doesn't mean that you're destined to build a low-quality site should you decide to take the DIY route. There are a broad selection of tools and platforms that will enable you to build a high-quality site for relatively low cost. It just requires you invest time and effort learning the tools.
Below are the best platforms for building your e-commerce website on your own -
If you don't have the time of inclination to develop the site yourself there are a number of services that can help you find someone to it for you.
Fiverr - is a global marketplace of freelance specialists in areas such as writing, graphic design, video production and more. Fiverr is unique from other similar services in that many of its providers are willing work for as little as $5.00. However, you should expect to pay significantly more than that for a quality e-commerce site - as the average price for the development of premium Shopify site is around $400.
GETTING TRAFFIC TO YOUR STORE
Once you have your store set up with high quality products you have to get the word out about your store.
One of the first steps is to install website tracking using tool like Google Analytics and Facebook Pixel these two tools allow you to gather data about your website visitors, such as - what pages they visited, the products they viewed, where they're located and more.
Your next action is to decide what type of traffic are you prioritizing driving to the site - it can either be organic or paid.
PRO TIP: Successful e-commerce businesses use mix of organic and paid traffic to help their customers find and purchase their products.
Honestly, starting an online business is not easy, but it can be extremely rewarding. While there are many steps to starting and scaling an e-commerce store this post is intended to provide you with a summary of the high-level steps to get started.
That said, each online businesses is unique, so you will likely have many unique challenges and obstacles to overcome. However, don't let them deter you. Instead, view them as opportunities to learn and grow, which is the appeal of building a business from scratch.
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