Startups have become the new aspiration for many today and people want to emulate them. One of the appeals of starting a business online is that this aspiration is possible for so many. Successful entrepreneurs have different startup budgets and come from all walks of life, but many share the same ambition – having the desire to find a solution or fill a gap in the market.

Getting into e-commerce is a great way to start up a business, especially if you don’t have a lot of finance available for startup costs. E-commerce growth shows no signs of slowing down so there is plenty of room to jump on board. In August 2018, online spending continued to increase and is projected to continue to increase in the future, year on year.

The following e-commerce startup insights will make sure that you set yourself apart from all the others. With constant developments in online business opportunities, you need to regularly review your approach.

Choose your product shrewdly

The products that you sell will shape the rest of your business. You need to choose a solid product line, as everything else will be tailored to this product – your inventory, finances, design and branding and your targeted marketing. You need to make sure there is a demand for your products and that you can make money by selling them.

You need to immerse yourself in all types of media including social media, news and current affairs. This way, you can spot a niche or a demand in current trends.

For example, demand for health and wellbeing products online have soared in recent years, with health and fitness influencers promoting products on social media. Beauty products without the chemicals, health juices, sleep tech are all in high demand. E-liquids have become another lucrative product to buy online, with the NHS promoting e-cigarettes as a way of giving up smoking and companies seizing this very recent online sales opportunity.

Then there are those genius ideas which take someone who is undaunted to champion them. Dollar Shave Club founder Michael Dubin built a $1 billion company by spotting a gap in the market. When he launched Dollar Shave Club in 2012 the razor market was dominated by Gillette – with 72% of the market. However, Dubin saw that by undercutting the commercial giants on razors they could create an online subscription brand which felt like a men’s club. Now Dollar Shave Club are jumping on the wellness product bandwagon and expanding to include skin care products, toothpaste, hair creams and other toiletries. They can do this because starting an online e-commerce business allows  maneuverability to current trends.

Know your market

It is vital that you  know the needs of the market that you are seeking to satisfy and what makes you a unique player in that market before developing your strategy. Even as you implement that strategy, you need to adjust it to the dynamics of the market you are serving.

Many startups overestimate how much demand their will be for an e-commerce product. Just because you love it, does not mean that everyone will. Run some focus group sessions amongst your social networks to generate authentic opinions, find out some problems and think about how you can provide solutions. This will give you an idea about how well-received your product will be.

You need to find out:

  • The size of your potential market
  • Who your competitors are and are they offering a similar product
  • What you can do better than your competitor

Connect with your customers

Despite being an online business, you need to find a way to connect with your customers in a human way. This makes your brand trustworthy and authentic. Even if you find the right product to sell online, if the right people don’t see it and trust in your brand – you won’t make the sale.

To connect with your customers you can:

  • Start vlogging so that prospective customers see you and therefore trust you
  • Create a useful blog that answers their questions – use a unique voice to humanize your brand
  • Create behind-the-scenes videos for brand authenticity
  • Make product videos – numerous studies show that people are more likely to buy a product if they watch a video
  • Utilise social media – make sure you are consistent and answer messages. Use the provided platform analytics to find out what the best times are to post for maximum engagement

  • Promote customer reviews – one survey found 60% of consumers said that looking at the star rating was one of the most important before buying and 87% of consumers wouldn’t consider a purchase if the ratings were low
  • Create an appealing business story on your About Us page so people know more about you

Focus on last-mile delivery

Last-mile delivery is emerging as the next innovation hotbed for ecommerce success. This could be the potential differentiator for any e-commerce startup as it has a crucial role in making sure that there is a satisfactory customer experience.

Customers expect to receive products they order the next day – or the same day. People know they no longer plan ahead to make a purchase – they know they can order a product for a last minute gift and they often have an imminent date to make the purchase for. Make sure that your e-commerce business doesn’t lose out to a competitor who can deliver the product faster.

E-commerce companies are now using cost-effective on-demand fleet services which create flexibility for startups who can temporarily expand delivery capacity for peak periods ie Christmas or Cyber Monday.

Be ready to evolve

Farfetch is a fashion brand  which constantly adapts to the changing customer needs. Google is constantly changing so Farfetch constantly update its algorithms so that it gets the most hits in online searches even if the brand name has not been searched for.

Farfetch also launched a ‘fashion accelerator’ to create a business network and to discover emerging technologies to stay ahead of the game.

Ultimately, entrepreneurship is all about survival of the fittest. It is vital to be open to change without losing sight of your initial vision.