Launching a company in today’s climate can be intimidating. With countless opinions and possible directions to go, taking a wrong turn is a very real concern.
Luckily for budding entrepreneurs, I’d like to share a clear framework for how to launch, build and scale a successful e-commerce brand — no matter what industry you’re in.
Take a look below to learn the essentials for creating a high-performance e-commerce brand in 2023.
1. Research the market.
Before you launch an e-commerce company, it’s essential to understand the current market and the competition. Identify any gaps in the market and determine what could differentiate you from the other brands out there. You don’t necessarily need to revolutionize your industry, but there should be some clear factors that set you apart from the competition.
2. Create a business plan.
Developing a business plan that outlines your objectives and goals will help you stay organized, focused and on track. Not only will this provide you with a clear sense of direction, but it will also be valuable information to have ready for any potential investors.
3. Select a platform.
Choosing the right e-commerce platform for your business is a crucially important decision. Evaluate your options and choose a platform that makes sense for your business.
From my experience, Shopify is far and away the leader in the e-commerce space. They offer in-person events, banking, advance funding, educational courses and many more perks that come included at no extra cost.
4. Build your website.
Create a website that’s easy to navigate, visually appealing and optimized for mobile devices. Many entrepreneurs make the mistake of thinking their website needs to be incredibly complex, but simplicity is actually key. Use bold colors, clear call-to-actions and high-quality images.
You also don’t need dozens of products. Many times, single-product stores perform very well because the entire website is dedicated to speaking about the value of that item, and you can thoroughly inform the user in a short time.
5. Develop a marketing plan.
Utilize social media platforms and other digital marketing tools to promote and advertise your business. This can be a great way to create consistent and sustainable revenue. Instagram, TikTok, Google Shopping and Amazon all can cultivate strong results as long as the details are handled well. If this isn’t your forte, consider hiring someone to build these marketing campaigns for you.
6. Create a customer service plan.
Develop relationships with your customers by providing excellent customer service and showing appreciation for their loyalty. Although this is one of the least “sexy” aspects of running your own brand, it’s absolutely crucial to developing a sterling reputation.
In the beginning, you’ll be able to handle this yourself. As you scale, you’ll likely need to choose between the options of hiring in-house, using a platform that automates your customer service via chatbots or outsourcing a professional company to handle it.
7. Select a system for organizing finances.
Staying organized and keeping track of your operating costs, cost of goods, sales, margins and other financial metrics can ensure you stay profitable. All too often I’ve seen entrepreneurs have millions of dollars in sales but negative profits at the end of the year due to financial mismanagement. The more organized your finances are, the better your chance to attract investors.
8. Consider partnering with a 3PL to handle packing, shipping and returns.
In the beginning stages, you won’t be able to purchase an entire warehouse. By partnering with a third-party logistics company, you have instant access to warehouses all around the country (and likely the world). They receive, store and ship all your products/orders. This gives you time to focus on growth-focused tasks for your business, so you aren’t spending all day packaging items, printing shipping labels and visiting the post office.
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Many use data to show you where most of your customers are, and you can strategically keep your inventory in those regions in order to minimize shipping costs. If your customers are spread out, you can keep inventory at several warehouse locations.
Although launching your own company can be scary, it will undoubtedly bring you a sense of accomplishment and fulfillment. If you follow the framework outlined above, you can create a thriving company that you can be proud of.