You have a killer idea for a product. More than that, you’ve done your market research. You know that there’s a need and desire to pay for this. You’ve sourced the materials, you’ve made the product. It looks awesome. (Nice job!)
You’ve come up with a catchy name. You’ve filed your business paperwork.
How do you turn this great idea, this great product into something that customers will buy? How do you find customers and how do you get your product to them?
It’s easier than ever to set up an e-commerce business, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy to succeed. But with the right tools, plan and patience, your great idea could turn into something really special.
Choose Your Platform
It’s an e-commerce business, so instead of a brick-and-mortar, you need a website. No coding skills? No problem. There are a wide variety of platforms that are dedicated to helping you launch and maintain your business.
The platform you choose will depend on your specific needs and budget. In general, though, these are some of the most popular options for e-commerce hosting:
These platforms give you the ability to have you build what is essentially a storefront—just a virtual one. Think of it in the same way. The way you place your products, the photos you take, how you describe them—this is taking the place of floor staff in a traditional business. Think of the theme and design of your site as the ambiance of a physical store. It should match the aesthetic of your product. The more appealing your products look online, the more likely someone will buy.
There’s a number of great examples on these sites to glean inspiration from. But make sure it’s related to your business, your product. The more relevant it is, the better.
Market Your Product
Okay, you’ve set up your store. It looks great. (You’ve got a knack for this!)
Now you’ve got to find customers. Again, there are more tools than ever to market your product online. It doesn’t mean it’s easy or foolproof.
But it does give you an opportunity to figure out what works best for your business.
Maybe you want to do only social media:
- Post images of your product on Instagram, sending samples to influencers
- Connect with blogs or websites that fit your niche
- Place ads on Google
- Create product videos on YouTube
- Post your product on Facebook and Twitter
On many of the e-commerce platforms, you can chat directly with the consumer and market that way. You can run customized ads in different locales. You can even run ads in—gasp!—a newspaper. Word of mouth can still be effective too.
Most likely, a combination of some or all of the above will help. Some of these cost money, so think about that in your business plan. Some are free. Every business will have different budgets for marketing, but there are a variety of ways to implement all of the above.
Send Your Products
Okay, now you have some customers. They love your product. (Obviously.) How do you get it to them?
If all things go well, you’re about to become a shipping company too. Okay, not quite on that level, but you get the idea. The more you sell, the more you have to ship. It’s a good thing.
You have two basic options. You can ship it yourself. Or you can outsource.
If you do this, someone will have to cover the costs of shipping. You can pass it onto your consumers (not ideal), pay it entirely yourself (ouch) or do some combination of the two. Either way, the bill has to get paid. Plus, you have to package it, tape it, label it yourself. That can be time-consuming.
Have Someone Else Do It
If you’re worried about the time aspect, outsourcing could be for you. One way to do this is to work with a fulfilment warehouse. Basically, you store your product at their warehouse. When an order comes in, it automatically gets forwarded to them and they handle the rest. It usually means cheaper shipping costs, but there are other costs associated, like storage fees.
The size of your business, plus your own bandwidth, will help determine which option. Not sure which way to go? As you’re starting, you may want to begin by doing it yourself. The bigger you get, you can consider moving to a warehouse option.
Maximize Your Time
Running an e-commerce business can be all-consuming. You’re making your product, you’re marketing, you’re shipping. Maybe this is also a side hustle, in which case you probably have no time! You need to find ways to get more out of your day. That can be really tough. You’re only human, after all.
One thing that could get overlooked in all the craziness: second and third orders. When you’re spending so much time trying to keep everything else running, it can be hard to remember which customers are in need of new supplies or a renewal.
One of the great things about e-commerce is that it affords many integrations with outside apps and services. These can help power your business, often with automation and set-it-and-forget-it tools.
One of these services is right here: TXTFi.
TXTFi is built for second and third orders. It’s an AI-driven, text-message based reordering application that allows you to reach customers directly on their phones.
TXTFi currently sets up in minutes via Shopify. (Not on Shopify? Additional platforms will be supported soon. If you’re an enterprise merchant, contact us here to discuss customer integrations.
As soon as you set it up, TXTFi will gently remind your customers on your set frequency via SMS. Your customers will then order as they see fit. Pretty cool, huh?
Ready to Launch
You have that great idea—now just you need to execute. Luckily, there’s a whole host of programs that can help you.
A successful e-commerce business is in your grasp. Now’s the time to jump in.