What does it take to launch a profitable eCommerce website?

For many people, all they need to do is choose a niche and head over to Shopify or use other third-party online store solutions.

But is that all there’s to it?

I doubt.

A lot needs to be in place to make your eCommerce business a success.

Here’s the fact: Your website isn’t a standalone thing. It’ll have a strong impact on your entire eCommerce business.

On the other hand, if you think that successful eCommerce brands have figured everything out, you need to think again.

The truth is, these popular retailers are making huge mistakes, especially when in the area of mobile technology. In fact, in 2015 Somo analyzed the mobile capabilities of the top 50 high retailers and discovered that:

  • 46% of websites don’t support responsive web design.
  • 40% of websites lacked a mobile optimized store locator.
  • 20% of websites don’t have a transactional mobile site.
  • 28% of websites haven’t created an Android App yet.
  • 44% of websites lacked a tablet-optimized site.
  • 30% of websites don’t have an iOS app.

What’s the lesson from the statistics?

I thought you should know by now. Here:

“Make sure you design your own eCommerce website with mobile users in mind.”

Do you want to build a profitable eCommerce website?

Well, it’s not going to happen by chance. You need to take deliberate efforts.

When you do it the right way, your website can help you make more money, build a real asset, and reach the global market no matter where you’re in the world.

And you don’t have to wait for 3 years to succeed with your eCommerce business. You could start making consistent sales within 1 – 3 months. This happens when you take deliberate efforts to understand your audience better.

For example, Belay Shades, an eCommerce brand that sells glasses used Tim Ferriss’ Lifestyle Costing to create a $4,000 per month Muse in 5 days.

But can I be honest with you?

Many people who start an eCommerce business actually quit – even before they make their first sale.

Why do people quit in this industry?

There are several reasons, but people quit because it’s not possible for everyone to succeed in eCommerce and I’ll be lying if I tell you that you’ll become a millionaire eventually.

It’s true that anyone can set up a website and add items for sale, but getting people to buy your product is where the challenge is.

Have you prepared to handle logistics and fulfillment seamlessly – especially if your vendor or supplier resides in another continent or country?

Are you certain you have a good market for your product?

And talking about the audience. If you eventually build an audience, how do you engage these people with educational and inspiring content and cause them to buy more?

I still contend with these questions. If you’re going to make any headway as an eCommerce entrepreneur, you dare not shy away from these questions.

Sadly, best practices may not work for you. Successful eCommerce entrepreneurs know that thriving in this industry has nothing to do with following best practices.

The business world is dynamic. You can’t afford to do things the way it’s always been done. Smart marketers have an open mind. They adapt to new technology and listen more to their target audience.

At the end of the day, the more you understand your ideal customers, the more impact you’ll make in their lives. And of course, more money in your bank account.

In his session at the International Ecommerce Day Conference, Mustafa F. Ahmed, CEO of Ascend E-ventures shares some thoughts on how to successfully launch an eCommerce website that will thrive in this competitive age.

Mustafa currently manages eCommerce drop shipping websites that generate $3500 monthly with little to no maintenance. He has also worked on a few websites that failed woefully.

If you’re looking for a get rich quick scheme, then launching an eCommerce website  isn’t the right approach. You should look somewhere else.

Here are some tips and tricks to launch your business successfully shared by Mustafa F. Ahmed at the International Ecommerce Day Conference.

1. Start small, then scale along the way

Years ago, when you talked about eCommerce websites, you could’ve visualized a basic portal that’s solely focused on getting the sale.

But today, it’s a different game. In fact, the modern eCommerce website should have all these, in order to meet the customers’ demands.

Looking at the complexity of modern eCommerce websites, you might think there’s no place for you. Getting started becomes a big challenge.

In the same vein, being an eCommerce entrepreneur today and succeeding at it requires the efforts of other people. Period.

Customers crave for so much attention. Yes, they want to buy products and solve their problems, but they also want you to reply their comments, and educate them, amongst other things.

According to Ahmed, you need the experience of your internal team. Sure, you may use the best software to launch your website, but it’ll make no difference.

So are you doomed if your website is basic and you don’t have a team supporting you?

No.

On the contrary, you can start small, and scale along the way. You can scale as your business grows. In fact, it’s vital to keep a low profile when you’re just starting out.

For instance, if you had plans to sell 20 products on your websites, start with 5 or 10 and watch the demand.

Even if you have the money, it’s not advisable to throw it into importing products from overseas or buying locally.

What you really want to do is creating a content strategy for your business.

Use storytelling to lead customers from Point A to Point B, and provide them with all the information that they will require to make an informed and confident purchase.

Start small, find out what the bestseller products are. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel, or sell an entirely new product. You can drop ship products or whitelabel other people’s products.

Decide that you’re not going to run your eCommerce business alone. As the profits begin to roll in, reinvest into your business. Ideally, assemble a cross-functional team. Don’t let a team member venture into other departments.

2. Look at the big picture

In addition to starting small and scaling as your business grows, you need to look at the big picture. This is so vital because it helps you make informed decisions about your business.

According to Rosabeth Moss Kanter from the Harvard Business Review, “Zoom in, and get a close look at select details – perhaps too close to make sense of them. Zoom out, and see the big picture – but perhaps miss some subtleties and nuances.”

So how do you zoom in and zoom out of your eCommerce website in order to see the big picture?

Well, isn’t it obvious that one of the core things to figure out is how to get traffic to your website? But traffic isn’t the big picture. Right?

The big picture is conversions (e.g., getting the sale).

Of course, if you’re not directly selling products directly on your eCommerce website, but somewhere else, then the big picture becomes email subscribers.

Because from there you can follow up and redirect them to your actual store.

If you’re not looking at the big picture, by the time you’re choosing tools to run your business, you’ll make mistakes.

In the image above, you can see that many merchants run highly customized, legacy solutions that only one IT person supports.

More than one IT person or service provider should support your idea.

In fact, you shouldn’t be subjected to any particular solution, just because you don’t have too many options. Imagine what would happen if Shopify becomes the only online store builder in the world.

4.  Set goals and success metrics

You can’t afford to launch an eCommerce website without setting goals and identifying your success metrics.

The truth is that relying heavily on personal instinct without writing down the direction that you want for your business can prove perilous.

Again, you need to set realistic goals for the short and long-term. For example, in the next 2 – 3 months, how many sales do you want to record on your website?

For the purpose of your branding, it’s necessary to move from calculating your annual income to generating monthly cash-flow. How much do you want to make in a month, and how much expenses do you require?

You already know there are several eCommerce business models. And each model has its success metrics. Therefore, get to know which model works for you and use it as a benchmark to track key metrics.

It’s good to set money goals, but that’s not the only goal that you need. Though it’s difficult to gauge the impact of your brand, but you can use social media to simplify that.

For example, you can set up a Facebook fan page and promote it. At the end of the time frame, from the people who have followed you and found your products, you can tell the impact that your brand is making.

One more thing: when setting up your social profiles, try and get the same username for all the social media sites.

If your Twitter handle is (www.twitter.com/yourbrandname), then you should match that with your Facebook page (www.facebook.com/yourbrandname).

Conclusion

The process of launching an eCommerce website is where you’ll learn so many things about your business model.

It doesn’t matter how much you earn or didn’t earn, what you learn along the way will stay with you for life. Therefore, follow these few nuggets in your launch and watch your success spring forth.