The growth of online business over the last two decades has made it easier than ever to launch a small enterprise
The advent of e-commerce has opened up new avenues for people to solve problems for consumers and make money without many a burden.
An online business allows you to think big while starting small, and it’s relatively easy to get up and running. But don’t think this has escaped the notice of your fellow entrepreneurs. Regardless of the type of business you are in, you are bound to be up against a considerable number of competitors. That means you need to be more than just another run-of-the-mill online business if your company is to prosper.
So here are some tips on making your internet venture succeed:
1. Offer something different
How are you going to stand out from the crowd? You need to differentiate your offerings in some way. That doesn’t necessarily mean going for a niche market, because that could limit your potential customer base. It’s more about doing something better than your competitors or offering more.
Research your market thoroughly and assess the competition. See if there’s a gap in the services being offered that you’re in a position to fill. That can become your USP and you can then exploit it for all its worth.
2. Be competitive
You have to be realistic about your pricing strategy. You need to make your venture worthwhile financially, but if that means consistently charging more than your competitors, you probably won’t make enough sales. One of the reasons online businesses have become so popular is that consumers can easily compare offerings from competing providers and select the best-value option. Customers might be willing to pay slightly more for better service, but as an internet startup, you have to build trust before that will happen with your business.
3. Be reliable
Online customers simply will not tolerate an unreliable service because it’s so easy for them to go elsewhere – they can do it in a matter of seconds. So you can’t afford to have a slow-running website or one that goes offline on a regular basis. Make sure your web hosting service is reliable and offers a good level of support.
You also need to get your logistics right. A fast, reliable and competitively priced delivery service is essential to the success of an e-commerce enterprise. The quality of service from delivery providers can vary considerably, so you need to research your options and choose the one that’s right for your business.
4. Be honest and up to date about stock levels
Don’t expect your online customers to be patient. If they make a purchase from your website, they expect to receive it promptly. They won’t appreciate being told they’ll have to wait days, weeks or even months once they’ve parted with their money. The likelihood is they’ll ask for refund and won’t bother to visit your site again.
So it’s always a good idea to display up-to-date information on the stock levels of your products. If it’s out of stock, don’t sell it – but give the customer an estimate of when you expect to have it back in the warehouse. You can even offer to send them an email when you take delivery of it, giving you a chance to keep a potential customer who might have gone elsewhere.
5. Don’t ignore the power of social media
A presence on the likes of Twitter and Facebook can help spread the word about your online business and allow you to engage with current and potential customers alike. Embrace social media and use it to promote your latest offers and keep consumers informed about your products.
You can also encourage your customers to rate your service and write reviews of your offerings. Of course, they won’t all be positive but you can openly contact any dissatisfied customers to make amends. You can also use the feedback to improve your service for the future.