Starting your own business is a thrilling step to take. Although it requires a lot of hard work and dedication, starting a successful e-commerce business can transform your life. However, it’s easier said than done and many people make basic mistakes that stop their store from reaching its full potential. To give your e-commerce business the best possible chance of success, follow these 7 tips.

#1 Never make a promise you can’t keep

As a new e-commerce business, your customers are your lifeblood. After all, if you can keep your customers happy, not only will they return to use your business again and again, but they’ll also do your marketing for you by leaving positive reviews and referring their friends. As these Whistles reviews demonstrate, positive ratings can be a very powerful tool. This is because they show other potential customers that you’re a trusted brand people should do business with.

But, if your business overpromises and underdelivers, you’ll quickly gain negative reviews and create the opposite effect. So, if you have a no-hassle returns policy, you need to honour it. Or, if you promise a delivery timeframe, you need to stick to it. Similarly, if a customer has a complaint, you should resolve it in a timely manner.

By living up to your promises and creating a positive customer experience, you’ll stand the best possible chance of receiving positive reviews and word-of-mouth recommendations that will drive your business’s growth.

#2 Make a plan…and stick to it

Starting an e-commerce business is much harder than simply sourcing some stock and setting up a website. In fact, according to Failory statistics, e-commerce businesses have a failure rate of 80%-98%. For this reason, you need a concrete business plan that can guide you to success. In fact, if you’re applying for financing from a bank or financial institution, a business plan is often a prerequisite. In this plan, you’ll need to include:

  • A snappy executive summary that makes people want to read on
  • An overview of your company
  • An industry analysis
  • A customer analysis
  • A competitor analysis
  • A marketing plan
  • An operations plan
  • A financial plan

This will give you a key insight into the market you’re operating in and how your e-commerce store can thrive. But, crucially, when you’ve created your business plan, you need to follow it. View your business plan as a road map for success and consult it when you make decisions – otherwise you’ll lurch from one decision to the next rather than taking a targeted and analytical approach.

#3 Invest in your website

Anyone can set up a website for free. But for this very reason, there are a lot of poor-quality websites on the internet. Although you can make a website very cheaply, your website is something that’s worth investing in if you’re setting up an e-commerce business.

After all, a website gives potential customers their first impression of your business. If your website is poor quality and doesn’t have the correct functionality, a customer will often leave immediately. However, if you instead invest in a superior design, you’ll find it much easier to keep visitors and convert them into paying customers.

So, make sure your website doesn’t look like it has been made from a template and instead pay a professional to design it. Otherwise, your website may look like it has been designed by a scammer and many visitors will simply be unwilling to enter their credit-card details.

#4 Drive traffic

Just because you’ve built a website that looks nice and contains good-quality produce doesn’t mean that customers will find it and use it. Instead, you need to actively drive people to your website using search engine optimisation (SEO) and pay-per-click advertising (PPC) techniques. After all, data from HubSpot shows that there are 5.8 billion Google searches each day, so your website has a lot of competition – and you’ll need to work hard to make it stand out from the crowd.

If you use PPC, you’re guaranteed to get visitors, but you’ll have to pay every time someone clicks on your website regardless of whether they buy anything or not. Alternatively, you can do your own SEO for free, but it’s a long-term solution that’s incredibly time consuming. For this reason, many e-commerce businesses pay someone to do their SEO for them, like a freelancer or an agency.

#5 Monitor your website’s performance using Analytics

When you’re running a website, Google’s Analytics suite is your best friend. This is because you can use it to tell you everything about your website, such as:

  • How many visitors you’re getting
  • Which pages people are visiting
  • How long people are spending on the site
  • Which pages are converting

By arming yourself with all of this information, you can find your best-performing pages and identify areas for improvement. As your store gets older, you’ll also receive data on how your website has performed over time. This is incredibly useful for showing you your business’s growth, but it can also help you identify problems with your website.

#6 Make checkout painless

Once you’ve attracted a visitor and they’ve decided to buy from your website, you need to make the checkout process as painless as possible so they convert into a paying customer. Otherwise, if a potential customer encounters problems paying, they’ll simply leave and buy from somewhere else.

One great way of doing this is using a reliable merchant account like PayPal. Alternatively, you can use Google Wallet or another online shopping transaction vendor like ShoppingCart. This way, the process of buying from you will be safe and hassle free.

#7 Build trust by showing safety

Customers will only give you their credit- or debit-card details if they think it’s safe to do so. As a result, you should make it really obvious that your site is safe at every possible turn. One great way of doing this is by displaying PayPal’s certified logo across your site, or the relevant logo for your merchant account vendor or e-commerce solution.

The use of these badges and logos will show your customers that your transactions have met certain standards and that you’re a trustworthy and reliable company to work with. Ultimately, this will boost trust in your website and mean that any uncertain customers are much more likely to buy from you.

Follow these 7 tips and you’ll have the best possible chance of making your e-commerce business a roaring success!