Working in eCommerce, we see a lot of products for sale online. From glow-in-the-dark toilet paper to metal-detecting sandals, we see a lot of stuff (not all of it good). But all these things started in the same place. As an idea, then a concept, through to a product, marketing and then a sale. If you’re looking to follow a similar path, we’ve put together this how-to guide to help you get on your way.
1. An idea
First things First. An idea is ultimately all you need. What is a product that you wish you had? What is something that people want? Browse the internet to find problems that people are having. Reddit and Facebook groups can be a gold mine to find people complaining about things. For example, saving time or things that are simply inefficient or not designed for the process they are being used for.
Your idea should be unique, but it can be influenced by existing products or ideas. Take something that already exists and make it better. The hard part of design and idea validation has been done!
- What is something you are genuinely passionate about?
- What is a daily problem that you or your friends/family face?
- What is a process in your life that you’d like to see sped up or made easier?
- What are some problems that people your age/gender/demographic face?
Bonus Tip: Find a niche market (eg a particular sport, hobby or habit) and find a product that solves a problem there. Specializing in a small market means you sell a smaller range of products but you have a higher potential to move more. It’s easier to perfect a product, too.
Before you start your venture, you need to make sure you have the appropriate tools for the job. The most important tool in running an online business, is a computer. PC or Mac? Laptop or desktop? All options have their pros and cons.
Personally I find the Magic Mouse on a Mac to be fantastic, but I am not a fan of file management on using OSX. This may seem like a small problem, but when you work with images, word documents and many other files, the efficiency of your machine plays a very important role. On the other hand, PC’s may be a more price-friendly option for many money-conscious entrepreneurs.
What software will you use to manage your emails? Mozilla Thunderbird (great for managing multiple email addresses) or standard web-based Gmail? If you are wanting to perfect images or make complex infographics, then Photoshop is a no-brainer. Some other standard issue software is Google Chrome, Slack and Skype.
Then there is online software. Fox example, inbound marketing– will you use HubSpot or Marketo to keep track of your client database? We recommend GetResponse or Freshmail to take care of your emails, Intercom to take care helping your customers and Buffer for all things social-media.
4. Validation of your product
Before you invest time, money and energy into your product, you want to make sure it will move. Before taking this step, share your idea amongst friends and select peers.
The biggest mistake people make in starting an ecommerce biz, is playing their cards too close to their chest. They spend so much time keeping their idea under wraps that they forget that it is somewhat of a calculated risk, and after launching, their idea sinks.
Marketplaces (such as Etsy, eBay, Dawanda) are a medium that are great for concept validation- they already have thousands (possibly millions) of users. This makes exposing your product to more people much easier.
5. eCommerce Platform
You now need a way to sell your products, and what better platform than Shoplo. When looking for a platform to sell your product on, look for something versatile. A platform that can control the layout of your website, manage orders and dynamically engage with visitors is probably going to have everything you need. A good eCommerce platform should also allow you seamlessly integrate with marketplaces, making your products available to customers loyal to buying from a trusted website.
Of course, price should be a factor in determining if a platform is best for you (monthly or commission based), but don’t forget to think about other things like customer support, ease of use and how well the company helps you market your product. We hear Shoplo are giving away a 6-month free trial to a limited number of sign ups!
6. Unique memorable email & domain name
John sells socks. You send him an email asking about his sizing. Which email looks more professional? [email protected] or [email protected] ? What is easiest for your customers to remember? Do you want your customers to go to johns.socks.myfreewebstore.com or johnssocks.com?
Choose a domain provider that is reliable (quick up times and solid servers) as well as flexible (lets you increase/remove bandwidth restrictions during peak times). You never know when your traffic may spike and it is very hard to spend money in a web store whose servers are down. A domain provider should also provide you with the appropriate email addresses!
Some say that being successful isn’t the amount of money you make, it is instead about the amount of times you keep coming back after having a bad day. I think this is a good measure of success, too. You may not make millions of dollars from you venture, but at the end of the day, as long as you learn something, evolve, change and grow and most of all, keep coming back after being knocked down, you are successful.
Whether your venture is a full time job or a side-hustle, it should consume every part of your life. It should be a conviction, a reason you get out of bed and a reason to keep going.
One common saying is that if your business is the reason your partner leaves you, then you’re doing it right. I won’t endorse that, but there is a reason it’s a common saying!
Once you get to this point and you have your products in hand, ready to sell, the fun really begins! Our Shoplo Academy is full of more information you need to grow and market your business.
One more bonus tip, remember to experiment. What works for someone else, may not work for you. Don’t compare you success with that of a competitor, as you can only improve who you are and how you work. Above everything else, remember to have fun along the way!
We hope this guide has given you some insight into what is needed to start selling a successful product in the world of eCommerce!