The lure of e-commerce in India is very high at the moment, it provides a great opportunity for existing brick and mortar businesses or for that matter any small business that would like to go online and expand their footprint. However, success is not guaranteed. The market is highly competitive and new stores are opening up by the hundreds every day. Just like any other business, it is important to ask yourself these key questions before you take the plunge into e-Commerce.
Have you done enough research on what to sell?
The most popular online verticals at the moment are travel, apparel, and consumer electronics. This is a highly saturated space and you will find thousands or sellers already competing in this cluttered market. If you plan to enter any of these areas you need to ensure you are a niche service provider or you add some unique value to this category that makes you stand apart. You don’t want to be just another store offering the same products and also consider the prospects that you would be competing against the likes of giants like Amazon.
Do you understand your shopper?
Just like a regular brick and mortar store, shoppers expect to be taken care of when shopping online. It is important to build trust with your target audience and ensure they keep coming back to you. Quality of product, after sales support and pricing, is key to winning their trust. You need to ensure you deliver what you advertise and there are no shocks when they receive their product. On time deliveries are another aspect you need to keep in mind, it is very critical that you deliver as promised. Customer support is often an area that first time or small retailers fail to ignore, this is the most important aspect of building trust with your customer.
Have you considered a payment gateway?
While credit cards usage is growing in India, there are a lot of shoppers who prefer to pay with cash or other payment options. Research your options and provide as many convenient options as possible that will make a shopper feel secure while shopping with you. There are a lot of payment gateways like PayUBiz and BillDesk that offer secure payment gateways. Consider their transaction fees and make sure it works for you. You don’t want the transaction fees to eat into your profit margins. Ensure you factor this price into your pricing.
How will you promote your website?
Building an e-commerce store is not that difficult, you can set one up in less than a week. However, what is important is that you get the word out so your shoppers know you exist. You should look at doing SEO (search engine optimization) for your site, you can find qualified service providers that can do this for you or if you have a little time on hand, it is not very difficult to learn the basics yourself. You can search for SEO tips and guides online, there are plenty of self-help platforms and forums that can get you started.
You should also consider some paid advertising on Google AdWords and Facebook, both these platforms offer services to buy targeted traffic for your website. Consider the costs involved and have a budget set aside for this. Start small and evaluate results before you expand further. Create social media profiles on popular platforms like Facebook, twitter, Instagram etc. based on where your shoppers hang out most. Make sure yo0u are active on these platforms and this is not just a one-time setup and forget it kind of activity.
What about logistics?
Have you considered that you could be getting orders from every corner of the country? You need to make sure you are able to ship to these locations at an affordable price. Evaluate your logistics partners and negotiate pricing and delivery schedules before your start. This will help you give your shoppers the right information on shipping costs and delivery times.
What about conversion rates?
It is easy to set up an e-commerce site using popular platforms like Shopify or Woo Commerce, each platform comes with hundreds of options that you can customize to help you improve conversion rates. You will need to test your messaging (content), landing pages (A/B test) and also consider services like Live Chat to help improve your websites conversion rates. You don’t want your shoppers to be lost on your website looking for products to buy. Just like a brick and mortar store, your shoppers expect a shopping experience that is both intuitive and pleasing.
In conclusion, the key is to keep your risks low by starting small and expanding as you see success. Build your business by building trust with your shoppers and offering them the value that they would keep coming back for. Word of mouth will help you grow your business if you have happy customers that can vouch for you. Pay attention to online customer reviews and customer feedback that can help you continuously improve your service offering. Be consistent and don’t give up when you face initial challenges. Try to find a solution and work around it.