Month: October 2017

How to Launch Your Own E-commerce Store from Home

How to Launch Your Own E-commerce Store from Home

The world of Ecommerce has developed rapidly over the last 10-years with all major global brands now actively selling their services and products online. In mature Ecommerce markets like the United States, Business Insider states that over 17% of sales will happen online by 2020, and this figure could even go up at the rate it is going.

With the trend steadily moving towards more Ecommerce sales, aspiring entrepreneurs all over the world and have many different Ecommerce platforms to choose from.  In India, Flipkart is leading the way. It’s India biggest Ecommerce platform and currently commands around 57% of the market ahead of Amazon. It’s a large market share if you compare it to the North American market, although the US and Canadian markets are obviously a lot more competitive.

Magento is the most popular with 29.1% with other platforms such as ZenCart and Big Commerce following close behind. Canadian Ecommerce platform Shopify accounts for 10.9% of the market. This is mainly due to it being one of the most “hassle-free to set up” for first digital marketing entrepreneurs venturing into Ecommerce, according to a Shopify review by Ecommerce Guide.

But regardless of the major brands hoovering up the majority of consumers with their large-scale digital marketing campaigns, the market in general also has areas of opportunities for budding entrepreneurs to seize on. After all, the global Ecommerce market was predicted to reach $1.9 trillion by the end of last year – it will undoubtedly surpass that mark this year.

Why Ecommerce Could Work For You

The best part about an online business is its practicality and flexible nature. A physical office usually means a sizable financial outlay to begin with not to mention office equipment and any legalities that come with renting space. Additionally, it can become a financial burden or even a limitation if you’re pinned to a long-term contract that doesn’t allow you the scope to down size or scale up. Online, the world is your oyster and you can react more fluidly depending on how your business is performing.

The Basic Steps to Get You Started

Carving Out Your Niche

At the beginning of the whole process, let’s assume you already know what you are going to be selling online. The real focus needs to be on how you’re going to sell it, and how you are going to reach your potential target audience. The way you operate needs to be unique, otherwise without the big budgets of the high street brands, you will get lost in the sea of consumer brands.

Set Your Price Points

Arguably one of the main things that will determine if your product sells online is its price. Without stating the obvious; if it is too pricey you may price yourself out of the market. If you’re too cheap then you probably won’t function as a business for long. The best way to find that midpoint is to do market research across your competition.

This way you will gain a good understanding of the market you’re about to enter. In an ideal world you need to have a margin of 30-35% profit so that you have the ability to post healthy revenues as well as give you the opportunity to scale the business over time. This margin will also be determined by what industry you’re operating in, so it’s imperative to do your research.

Finding Your Manufacturers

Not everyone manufactures their own products in-house, even more so if you’re working from home. Therefore, it’s an absolute must to sort out your manufacturers, availability and shipping costs before even building your site. These can make or break your dream before you’ve even started as they all need to be factored into your overall cost per product and will affect your top line.

Finding online manufacturers is a tricky game so you need to be ready to do your research.  Sites like IndiaMart, Alibaba, ThomasNet and Bambify are a good place to start.  Take your time in making your decision and don’t be afraid to try our different manufacturers in order to find the right one for you.

Let’s Get Technical

Once you understand your market and services/products that will help you grow your business, the next step is building your Ecommerce platform and getting the hosting package that suits you, along with everything else that comes along with your newfangled business venture. Here is a run-down of what you’ll need:

Choosing an Ecommerce platform – As stated above, one of the best for beginners is Shopify as it has a very easy interface and is extremely user-friendly, is good for scaling up and growing your business. It’s also very cost-effective.

Domain Name – Make sure it stands out; it’s easy to read and is a great representation of your product/s and brand.

Logo and Website Skin – Again, this needs to represent your brand to your target market so make sure it’s something you’re proud of and can work with for years to come.

Hosting – Find an affordable hosting package that will give you a stable platform to sell your products online.

Testing Your Business Idea

Testing Your Business Idea

Before you go ahead to actually start your business, there are ways to test your idea to see if it is capable of really making you money or not. Somewhere between scribbling your idea on a piece of paper and starting a business, there is a process you need to carry out that mainly determines either your success or failure in business.

A lot of times, would-be entrepreneurs get carried away by their “epiphanies” the moments they imagine they have found the perfect idea and forget to test the idea to find out if it is actually viable or not.

And mostly if there is a need for your business idea in the market. We call it “evidence based market research“.

There are some steps required to test your business idea; these steps are necessary so as to keep from wasting valuable time and money on unfocused or untargeted activities. Of course, there are times that an idea turns out to be a great business idea anyways, in spite of a lack of market research. Unfortunately, a lot of other occasions, an untested idea always crashes and burns.

If your idea for a business seems too tiresome and clunky, it is great to create a model for it. It’s not only when the idea feels clunky that a model is needed, creating a model is very easy to do and updating it is a breeze. With a model, you get to enjoy a clear overview of the building blocks of your business idea: the customer segments, channels to reach out to clients, value propositions, revenue streams, key resources, customer relationship, principal partners, activities that create value, and cost structure.

Execute a market survey After a model has been created, the next step in testing your business idea is to execute a market survey. A Market Survey is an organized effort to gather information about your target audience or customers.  Absolutely no business should be launched without the execution of a market survey. A Market Survey provides important information to identify and analyze the market need, market size and your competition. There are sites where this can be done, you just create an online questionnaire and share the link to the survey with your target audience, this transcends geographic boundaries and helps you gain a broader perspective and is often more preferred to the traditional method of printing out and handing questionnaires yourself, although a combination of both is the best approach.

Another way of carrying out a market survey is to conduct a Focused Group Session both before and after the completion of your Minimum Viable Product . Here, you invite people from your chosen target demographic to participate in a group discussion on the products or services. They would be advice to speak freely about what they want done; that is before the product is ready and what they want to be changed, when it is done. A focus group is a very good idea and would help achieve the following: It helps you find out your customers first impression of the product. It helps gather real -time customer’s feedback on the virtues and vices of the products.

When your idea  looks a Flop, you discover a lot of holes in it, it doesn’t mean you need to totally scrap the whole business start-up plan and resign yourself to life as an employee. Sometimes, the “terrible” idea is just in need of some reworking. It can be disheartening when an idea is revealed to be a flop, considering the amount of time and money you have already invested in it, first during the idea stage, and then the market research stage to test it, however, giving up is never and has never been the right option. Rather, it is recommended that you take time out and focus your energy on determining exactly why your idea would not work and where it needs improvements to ensure future success.

Although no entrepreneur wants to hear that his “idea” is flawed, only by listening and reacting to feedback from others can he give his idea a chance for success. Ask yourself, is the weakness one that can be overcome, if the answer is yes, work on overcoming it. However, if your answer is no and the weakness discovered in your plan cannot be overcome and the idea made to create true value for your customer and your business, it is time to leave that idea and pursue another one.

Now for the other option after testing, wthen Your Idea is great and Ready to Go.

factor to consider is , you want to set a price that is competitive and still capable of influencing people’s Pricing decision to buy from you, this is especially necessary if there is much competition. now, do not immediately dismiss this advice, think about it. When you start always pricing high, when high the pricing structure isn’t working, you can go a tad lower, your customers would be happy that your product is now “cheaper” and they’ll purchase more from you. If however you start low, you can never go up without losing a lot of customers who will feel your services are too “costly.” It is best to test different pricing offers, each month, set a new price for your services, and remember to keep going a little bit lower until you reach the minimum percentage of profit you have decided to make on each product.