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building an online business
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No matter what we do, there are certain things that are a must have when doing it.  Rather, things that are essential.  Whenever you go out of town, you always have to pack the essentials. Tooth brush, deodorant, basic clothing, medications, etc. Without those, you are grossly unprepared and will have to either buy things on the go at extra expense or go without something you really shouldn’t go without. Building your online business is no different. The difference is going without one of the business essentials is worse than not having deodorant.

So what are these essentials, and why are they essential? Tom was wondering the same thing when he started his eCommerce dropshipping store.  Let’s look at what he discovered.

Dropshipping Website

The Website

1. Having a Solid and Functional Website

Like many  of us, Tom thought “duh” when the topic of a website came up as an essential for building an online business.  But he quickly discovered that it wasn’t as “duh” as he thought it was because just having a website isn’t enough.  

The features of an eCommerce website are what makes it a business and not just a website.  The way these features work help determine the type of experience the customer has and whether or not they want to buy anything and return to buy more.  He also realized that for his store to be taken seriously by customers he would need a custom domain name. It is essential to business growth and customer trust.

2. Having a Beautiful Website

When it comes to website design, it directly impacts sales. The design needs to be intuitive. For example, consumers have gotten used to seeing the different menus along the top of the webpage or at the top right or left corner of the page. If you get too creative with your website design and it confuses people, you will not pass the functionality test.  

The design of the sign itself needs to look appealing.  First impressions matter, and if someone is not impressed with the design of the site, it makes them wonder about the products being sold and the validity of the company.

Appealing websites resonate quality within a consumer’s mind. If a consumer feels like a site is quality, they will have more faith in the quality of the products. There is also a trust issue with poorly designed websites. With the amount of fraud out there, people have a healthy sense of caution before giving out their payment information.  If the site looks basic, it affects how consumers judge the legitimacy of the business.

3. Functionality

Something Tom found immediately was the impact that web page load times have on a customer.  He was startled to see how much 1 second of extra load time impacted consumer traffic. Here are a few very important statistics he found out. Guess how many seconds 47% of consumers expect a web page to load?  2 seconds or less.  Guess how many seconds of load time it takes for 40% of consumers to move on from a website? 3 seconds or more. That is huge.

But guess what is even bigger? Mobile device web traffic.  Around 52% of web traffic is done on a mobile device. Because of this, an eCommerce site must be mobile web optimized.  Tom himself admitted that he has been in a store and decided to purchase the same product or a comparable product on his phone right then. That is how powerful mobile web sales are.

4. Features

Taking these factors into consideration, Tom realized that he needed to add some extra features to beef up the customer experience.  He was able to do this by using a membership system for customer loyalty.  

This will be mentioned in greater detail when talking about the marketing essentials later on.  He then created dynamic check out carts so his customers can view their cart no matter where they are on the website.  This lets them see what they are currently buying vs alternative products offered and also keep track of their spending.  

Cart abandonment tracking to follow up with customers that did not finish their check out experience. Thank you for your purchase pages help leave a friendly and positive impact on the customer as their last impression of your page before they leave it. 

And lastly, the site must have a solid payment processing system. It is frustrating for consumers to take the time to pick out their products and go to spend money only to have an issue when trying to spend said money.  Protecting customer payment information is also a big deal, especially considering today’s data protection climate.

5. Shop1 - Does it All

For Tom to set up all of these features on a working site by himself or to pay to have it created and maintained would be expensive. So he went looking for a dropshipping platform that could handle this for him. This is where Shop1 comes in. Every check box on Tom’s list of website essentials was checked by Shop1’s services. Tom went through the three plan options available to select the plan that gave him the functionality he desired for his store.

Marketing

Marketing

1. Research your Market

Tom knew he wanted to sell sporting goods, but he didn’t know how the market as a whole was moving.  It was time to figure it out.  So Tom started researching his market.  He researched his competitors to see what they were doing.  He researched sporting good consumer trends to see which areas were dying off and which were becoming popular. Then he researched the consumers purchasing from this market.  By analyzing the current market Tom was able to determine a great starting point for his marketing while maximizing the results.

2. Consumer Engagement

Engaging consumers of your product niche is an amazing way to build up clientele and website traffic. After looking at it, Tom realized that it was just as important if not more so than researching his niche’s market. In fact, it can do both. 

Social media is the way to go to connect with people in this day and age, especially during situations like Covid-19 or for entrepreneurs who have a hard time getting out of the house for networking events for whatever reason. Essentially, social media is one massive convention full of new faces who haven’t met yet.

3. Engage in Relevant Social Media Groups

Sites like Reddit, Facebook, Instagram, and offer the ability to create communities of similar interests.  Tom assumed the best way to advertise while doing this was to create a page for his business and start taking out ads. But while Tom was reading marketing material from Shop1, he learned that he just needed to join groups on these sites and engage them with conversation. 

He started to slowly build connections with other members by having conversations and he was able to slowly start making suggestions about items he liked from his store. Free traffic and easy advertising.

Tom still did want to run social media ads. Sites like Facebook and Instagram have massive followings and the sites off pay-per-click advertising options. This means Tom only pays when someone clicks that ad to go to his site. This is another reason the previous topic about how his website looks is important. It helps turn the click traffic into sales.

4. Social Media Marketing Analytics

Tom ran a few different ad campaigns while using the social media paid advertising. He received data to determine which advertising strategies were successful and which were not. He was able to tailor his advertising and business to the results of these analytics because it narrowed down what his target audience responded to.  

This was huge for him! He was even able to create coupons that maximized sales while preserving profits from this data.

Membership

Memberships

1. Responsible & Ethical Gathering and Use of Consumer Information

One of the ways companies engage customers so that they return is by gathering customer information from activities during their previous visit.  This could be via rewards memberships, surveys, and customer feedback. 

However, how a company treats this data and gathering it responsibility is important.  Personal data collection is a hot topic in legislation and among people in general.  Only use this information as it relates to marketing the business and do not sell it.

Rewards memberships are designed to attract repeat business from customers. Many people are tired of rewards clubs, but with eCommerce stores it is positioned as an account with the store to give them easier access to orders and it makes checking out easier. If the customer opts in, it can also be used to give exclusive coupons to return shoppers.  

These coupons typically scale by either A.  the amount spent, or B.  The membership level of customers (usually determined by how much they have spent).  This helps to build a loyal customer base if done correctly.

Tom was excited about what he discovered. When he originally set out to create his business, he did not know how beneficial his research would be. Now he felt that he had a blueprint for success. It saved him time, money, and effort that can be better used on other resources. Tom reduced some of the growing pains businesses go through by using proper planning ahead of time and knowing what he needed to start off with so he didn’t have to overspend later on due to a lack of information.  

The moral of the story? Have the essentials in place at the beginning so the business grows on the correct foundation.  Also, don’t forget your deodorant at home when you go on a trip. You’ve heard what it did for Tom.  It is time to do that for you also.  Get your essentials in order today so your business is ready for the next step tomorrow.

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