3 Tips to Help Your Emerging Ecommerce Business Surge

You might have heard… it’s not a bad time to start an ecommerce business. The industry is growing fast, there’s little overhead involved with a purely digital online store, and more people are doing their shopping online every day, in all sectors.

But people that rush into entrepreneurship don’t often take the time to consider the details of their business plan. In fact, there are thousands that have the same idea and without a major cost-prohibitive barrier to enter the market, competition is fierce. Here are 3 tips to make your emerging store stand out among the competition:

1. Embrace Partnerships

Many first-time online sellers fail because they try to go it on their own. The approach that brings success to a vast majority of e-sellers involves forming meaningful partnerships with more successful stores, both ecommerce and brick & mortar.

Why? Because Amazon and the like have it all figured out, as far as drawing and retaining customers. Associating with a major brand can kickstart your business, after which you can re-assess your relationships.

2. Market and Re-Market Through Multiple Channels

To get the largest return out of your likely small, starting advertising budget, you have to capitalize on opportunities to build loyal customers. This means send emails to shoppers that abandon their carts and take part in less expensive advertising strategies like content marketing in the form of blog posts and valuable email newsletters.

Your starting budget for advertising and outreach will most likely be miniscule; that’s the part of starting a new business that most people consider to be the most expendable (as opposed to, say, rent on your inventory storage) and you’ll want to squeeze every dollar of ROI out of this budget.

3. Consider the Limits of Your Products and Pricing

It may seem like an attractive option to offer deep discounts, but according to Inc., nothing makes a seller appear more desperate than frequently discounting products, not to mention the effect it has on your profit margins.

The same goes for your product range. While you may think it’s a better option to try and meet the needs of more customers, this can increase the inventory burden on your business. Ask yourself, “is it more complicated and expensive to store 1000 units of 1 product or 1 unit of 1000?”.

The market for ecommerce businesses has never been more attractive, and in turn, more contentious. To stand out among the intense competition, you’ll need to solidify your business plan in a way that gets the most out of your limited resources.

Drew Berger

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Drew holds a degree in Political Science with a minor in Economics. He has experience writing in the areas of politics, economics, sports and sports business, and product descriptions. He always strives to produce unique content within a given deadline at a high level of quality.

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Grant Maddox
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Grant Maddox

Hey Drew, that was an interesting read. I especially like the part about limiting extraneous things and instead focusing on the products/services that really matter. Too often, people fall into the trap of “if 10 is good, then 100 is 10 times as good,” which leads to trying to take on too much at one time.

Doe Richard
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Doe Richard

I agree. Focusing on what I’ve got capacity for can spell the difference between a successful startup and failure.

Earl Dotson
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Earl Dotson

On paper, that theory makes sense. Applying it in reality can lead to disaster. Unfortunately, some don’t realize this until it’s too late – or at all.

Bonnie
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Bonnie

Sometimes less is more and I think in society where we can be quite gluttonous, his tips are right on! I agree with you as well about falling into that trap.

Rob Toccs
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Rob Toccs

Great point. If 10 is good, then 11 to 100 may still be decent — but they aren’t as good as the initial 10. Otherwise, the would’ve been included in the 10!

Doe Richard
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Doe Richard

I’d also like to add that it’s important you be a pro in what you do before going online. You’ve to be a pro to beat or at least survive online competition.

Bonnie
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Bonnie

I don’t think you necessarily have to be a pro, but do know the business you are getting into. Understand every aspect of it.

Linnea S.
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Linnea S.

You make several good points about growing an e-commerce business. If your company chooses to partner with Amazon, do you suggest becoming a third-party vendor to sell your own goods through Amazon, or becoming an Amazon Affiliate, or both?

Rachel Elle
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Rachel Elle

I don’t have a direct answer for you, but I know Amazon can be a slippery slope for companies who aren’t prepared to adhere to the guidelines. Amazon exists in an odd gray space between fulfillment and sales resource, and rival.

Anabelle BF
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Anabelle BF

Do you want to carry inventory? Third party vendor. Do you just want to make a little commission on sales without have to worry about carrying products or delivering them? Affiliate.

Rachel Elle
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Rachel Elle

Great insight, Drew. Ecommerce really works best when you’re ready to do what it takes to make an impact in the market.

Doe Richard
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Doe Richard

Good point! You need to be ready, and do not rush the e-commerce launch until a clear entry strategy is in place.

tomysole
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tomysole

Three very good points to consider for anyone entering the online market. There are so many ways to market your business online. I specifically like what you say about embracing partnerships. Just because a business is online doesn’t mean it follows a different set of rules regarding networking and creating valuable relationships with the online businesses that are set up in and around your niche. Word of mouth is still the most powerful form of advertising even if the market is now online instead of brick and mortar.

Earl Dotson
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Earl Dotson

There has never been a better time for word of mouth than the present. Information that once would’ve taken days to be passed along from one person to another can now be sent to millions of people in seconds.

melissann
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melissann

I agree that word of mouth is an extremely powerful form of advertising. Word of mouth can be in the form of “I love this company, check them out!” in a social media post, and doesn’t have to be in person.

auntieemily
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auntieemily

Great information and advice here. I like the thought of contacting those who have abandoned their cart, and such. I think that is a really helpful idea.

Linnea S.
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Linnea S.

Some e-commerce retailers send you an email with a percent-off coupon, a day or two after you abandon your cart. The coupon is a real incentive to get the customer to come back and make the purchase.

Anabelle BF
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Anabelle BF

Abandoned carts are the bane of e-commerce sites… I wonder if there are any studies about why people abandon carts. Is it because they weren’t sure they wanted it in the first place? Putting something in a cart is a pretty big sign of intention to buy…

Rachel Elle
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Rachel Elle

There definitely are… I know I’ve written articles about it. In my personal experience, it’s usually when I’m not really sold on what I’m buying, or when shipping costs are too high.

Linnea S.
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Linnea S.

People sometimes abandon their cart on an e-commerce site because they want to do one more search to see if another store has a better price. I’ve abandoned a cart at JC Penney recently because it wasn’t possible to get free shipping on the item.

Natalya Ward
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Natalya Ward

In my own research on the topic, I’ve found three main reasons. 1) Shipping costs are too high 2) The checkout process is too complex or requires someone to create an account first 3) A store requires someone to place an item in a cart to see a discount.

Linnea S.
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Linnea S.

There’s even a popular women’s clothing e-commerce site that requires you to create an account before browsing their clothing! When i land on their site, I bounce outta there so fast.

Rachel Elle
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Rachel Elle

There are a lots of those, and I’m usually okay with it. ThredUp, for example, is completely worth the bother.

Rachel Elle
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Rachel Elle

Shipping costs is a big one for me. If shipping is free, I’m much more likely to keep shopping.

melissann
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melissann

This is a great strategy, and one that can be used to the buyer’s advantage as well. If I know that a company is going to send me a discount offer a few days after I abandon a shopping cart, then I’ll load it up and wait.

Georgia Potts
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Georgia Potts

Value is a really a state of mind. When you get down to it, diamonds aren’t actually worth much. It’s perceived value that we need to keep in mind. If you discount your pricing all the time, it will have a lower perceived value.

Linnea S.
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Linnea S.

That’s very true. The e-commerce business owner has to give the shoppers an understanding of why her items are valuable by marketing them effectively.

Bethany A.
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Bethany A.

So much thought has to go into marketing, pricing and all of that. I would think that it has to be good for businesses to focus on one thing at a time, like is said in this article.

Christine Birch
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Christine Birch

Some great suggestions here to keep in mind. Aside from Amazon, what are some other successful online retailers that small businesses can team up with?

Linnea S.
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Linnea S.

I’m curious to know too. What are some good e-commerce partnership opportunities?

Georgia Potts
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Georgia Potts

There are companies that will buy your inventory and list it on sites like Home Depot’s site. You can also partner directly with sites like Walmart.com and HomeDepot.com. That is a lot more complicated, though. As cheesy as it sounds, eBay is still a viable option. They have a huge customer base, and working through their system is pretty easy once you get the hang of it.

Christine Birch
Guest
Christine Birch

Interesting, I didn’t know Home Depot and Walmart would do that. But it sounds like they’re selling your brand from their store… how much of a profit cut would that cost, I wonder? Still, it might be worth it for the higher visibility.

wlrahilly
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wlrahilly

Sure, there is nothing wrong with eBay! I like the idea of third party vendors/drop shipping since you don’t have to carry the inventory yourself.

Linnea S.
Guest
Linnea S.

Yes, I like the idea of another company taking care of the shipping to the buyers. For that reason, I’m considering selling items through Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA). Wrapping and shipping are tasks I abhor, I’d rather focus on advertising and writing product descriptions.

Tricia H.
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Tricia H.

As a customer I always feel reassured when I see “Fulfilled by Amazon”, especially if I’m buying from a seller I’ve never heard of before.

Linnea S.
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Linnea S.

I agree. I feel that Amazon really monitors the FBA vendors to make sure they provide products that are as advertised. Also, with FBA, you can be pretty sure the item will be shipped promptly.

Rachel Elle
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Rachel Elle

I keep coming back to Drew’s last point. I completely understand why objectively that’s true, but as a customer, I love a great sale. Wonder what analytical work companies do to find the right balance between enough sales, and perpetual sales to the point that they seem commonplace.

Earl Dotson
Guest
Earl Dotson

If a seller constantly offers discounts, would buyers think the seller desperate or would they focus on the great deals being offered? My guess is most buyers would do the latter.

Rachel Elle
Guest
Rachel Elle

I think it depends on the seller. Sites that have frequent sales are appreciated for sure, but sites that literally always have sales seem disingenuous.

Earl Dotson
Guest
Earl Dotson

That’s a good point. I didn’t think of that, probably because I have never seen a site that always has sales.

Rob Toccs
Guest
Rob Toccs

Good tips Drew. I’m working on opening an ecommerce business; this was helpful.

Earl Dotson
Guest
Earl Dotson

Good luck with your business. When do you hope to have it opened by?

Christine Birch
Guest
Christine Birch

There is a lot to keep in mind when starting up for the first time!

wlrahilly
Guest
wlrahilly

I agree with Drew that it is so important to set yourself apart from your competition by having a strong business plan. Many more Entrepreneurs would be successful if they just started out with a plan and stuck to it while they are building themselves up to the point where they can afford to invest more in their business.

Quinn Evans
Guest
Quinn Evans

How interesting. I thought discounting would look good, but perhaps that is actually hurting business.

Serita Tillson
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Serita Tillson

This was a enlightening article, especially for those of us who have not yet started a e-commerce site, but are considering it.

melissann
Guest
melissann

I agree. I’m hoping to start an e-commerce site, but I’m not ready. This article makes it clear, be ready first and try not to stumble your way through.

melissann
Guest
melissann

I wish I understood more about building an ecommerce business. While I’m a writer, learning how to sell using my writing skills seems like the next good plan. This article does help, although I still focus on sites like eBay to sell. I’ve dabbled in Amazon, but need to learn way more about ecommerce and how to promote products.

Tricia H.
Guest
Tricia H.

Great points. I never gave much thought to forming partnerships, but I suppose it’s just as important in an e-commerce business as in a brick-and-mortar shop! Marketing is very important, too, although I often get annoyed by emails that remind me about an abandoned cart. I usually abandoned it because I changed my mind, not because I forgot about it.

Natalya Ward
Guest
Natalya Ward

Great point about discounting. I personally love getting emails about sales or discounts, but when I see it happening all the time, I begin to wonder what’s wrong. Think about how big Black Friday and Cyber Monday are. If they happened weekly, the sales numbers would be much lower.

Bonnie
Guest
Bonnie

Success is knowing your worth. I have heard time and time again that one should not undervalue their product by offering discounts. It also sets the tone for your brand. By not offering discounts it shows just how valuable your brand is and why paying premium is best. The e-commerce business is a great business to build in today’s digital world. We are always on the go and workings smarter and not harder enables a freedom most dream of. I think your tips are incredibly solid. They are the first steps most people skip when starting this type of business.… Read more »

CHINEDU OZULUMBA
Guest
CHINEDU OZULUMBA

Discount and coupons online seems to be the trend for businesses that are aggressively pursuing sales. New business owners should be weary of following the pack. One needs to work within a budget to avoid painful losses. It times of boom, give offers

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