Is it even possible to start a small business eCommerce shop when there’s so much competition in the digital space? Don’t let big business intimidate your dreams to thrive online. While there is a lot of competition, moving your business online will increase your outlets to reach new customers and help you grow.
Why the Shift To eCommerce
Small business eCommerce shops will become even more popular in the coming years. To remain a viable business, expanding brick and mortar stores to the digital world will be a necessity. Buying power has completely changed thanks to the accessibility and convenience of the Internet. Where customers had no choice but to go to traditional brick and mortar stores before, now they are much more likely to shop for a solution online. To stay top of mind for your current customers and expand your reach to gain new customers, moving at least a part of your small business to eCommerce is essential.
How To Start a Small Business eCommerce Shop
Once you’ve figured out that you definitely need an online presence, it’s time to start building the foundation. The Internet can be both a powerful tool and a threat to small business growth. When large retailers started to move online, small businesses were threatened because they simply could not compete at that scale. But that is no longer the case.
In 2016 it is easier to get online than ever before. Websites can be made with drag and drop platforms that don’t require a degree in graphic design or web development. Online marketplaces like eBay, Etsy, and Amazon are accessible to business owners of all size and industry. Suddenly small business eCommerce doesn’t look so small.
Here are some best practices and tips to follow to start your own eCommerce shop:
1. Create an eCommerce website.
Your first step to moving online will be to build a digital marketing foundation. And the first step to doing that is to decide how you will sell online. There many eCommerce platforms to choose from, so do your homework before you decide. This article from Forbes gives a great overview of some of the of the most popular eCommerce platforms.
2. Optimize for local search.
You want your online shop to get found. To do so, you have to make sure it is optimized for local search traffic. Google says that 50% of consumers will visit a store within one day of searching for it. And even if they don’t visit your physical store, they know you’re there and they can shop your online store. This is also a great way to spread your business through word of mouth.
3. Create valuable content.
The Internet is full of content. And with a sea of content available at the click of a button, it’s easy to get lost in the noise. Your business needs content that stands out from the crowd, can be found by people looking for a solution similar to yours, and that is engaging and valuable.
How can content be valuable? Content like eBooks, blog articles, guides, social media posts, etc. provide value to potential customers if they help solve their problem or engage them to learn more about your business. Say, for example, you post a blog article about when popular flowers are in season. This article might be found by someone searching for flowers for their wedding in July. Maybe they dig a little deeper and realize you’re either local or you have a great online store and you ship nationwide. You’ve just won yourself a customer by providing them with value in return.
Creating valuable content takes time. Start small. Write 1 blog article a week and build from there. Own your space by showing your expertise in your area. Think about what your customers would be searching for online that would lead them to you. Write compelling titles. Optimize for Google by including keywords, meta descriptions, alt text, images, etc.
Need some help getting started? Try this little experiment and you’ll see exactly what we mean. Search the web for terms like “how to optimize my small business website” or “small business ecommerce site optimization”. You’ll be amazed at all the results that are trying to grab your attention and provide you with a valuable resource to solve your problems.
4. Keep up to date with technology and track analytics.
Virtually every operational aspect of running a physical business applies to your eCommerce shop as well. You need to monitor inventory and update frequently, provide customers an easy way to purchase from you, and track sales to get a gauge on what’s selling and what’s not.
That is a lot to keep track of if you are already swamped in your physical store. But thanks to tools that cater to the eCommerce space, you can run your online business almost on autopilot. There are a few key things to keep in mind:
- Choose an eCommerce platform that fits best with your business (consider things like size, clientele, and industry)
- Partner with a payment gateway that is emphasizes security and that can scale with you as your business grows.
- Consult with your merchant service provider to help you get started with online payments. Many already have this capability and can easily walk you through the process.
The future of retail is inevitable. Consumers will continue to seek out solutions online and will expect greater levels of convenience. Anyone who has shopped online before can attest to the convenience of placing an order in a matter of a few mouse clicks. Increased adoption of small business eCommerce shops will change the way small retail competes now and in the future.