E-Commerce Startup Smarts: Keeping Your Business Dreams From Becoming a Nightmare

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They say failure is the best teacher, but it’s also really painful. Sure, you’re bound to make mistakes, but you don’t have to make the mistakes that others have already made. Here’s how to sidestep the failures of others, and learn from them.

Be More Specific With Your Product

You’ve got a great idea right now. The problem is that it’s too broad. You’re trying to capture everyone that fogs a mirror. The problem is everyone else is thinking the same thing. And, you could potentially end up being the next Amazon.com, but that’s very unlikely. In fact, it’s nearly impossible because there’s already an Amazon.com.

And, unless you have something really “out there” that can oust them from their “king of the hill” position, you’re better off niching down.

Let’s say you’re selling phone cases. It’s a popular market right now. What a lot of people do is they get a head full of steam and go out and try to sell all types of cases for all types of phones – the more, the better. They want to “own” that niche.
Except that’s not really a niche. It’s a broad market. And, it can get you into a lot of trouble. At best, you’ll spin your wheels competing against other sellers who only sell one particular phone case.
This is really where you want to be. You don’t want to sell 100 different generic cases for all different kinds of phones. You only want to sell the best iphone case, or the best Android case, or the best Windows phone case.

Pick one phone and sell cases that beat all other cases for that phone. You’ll clean up and have less competition.

Test Before You Spend Money

Before you set up an ecommerce platform, test.

There are lots of ways to test an idea, but the simplest way is to set up a dummy site with a dummy product and see if you can get people to click “buy” or at least get them signed up on a “future release” mailing list.

You don’t have to spend any money this way, and it will definitely give you a lot of research data that you can use to formulate an idea for a product.

Don’t Cheap Out On Parts

A lot of e-commerce sites send their manufacturing to foreign countries, like China.

But, Asian manufacturing standards are very different than U.S. or even European standards. There’s a good chance that, as your site grows and you become successful, you’re going to get sick of sharing the proceeds with your supplier.

At some point, the language barrier becomes an issue, quality control is a nightmare, and the business practices in Asia will throw you for a loop.

If you’re serious about your market and manufacturing in a place like Vietnam or China, plan a trip to actually inspect the facilities. Speak with the production manager and floor manager. If you don’t speak the language, hire someone you can trust who does.

Don’t Underestimate SEO Value

Everyone needs traffic for their site. One of the most common mistakes that new businesses make is they assume that they can just set up a website and have it work without any real promotion. It doesn’t work that way.

In the offline world, you can (sort of) get away with that. You can set up a brick-and-mortar store, in a high traffic area, and people will walk in off the street. But, it doesn’t work that way in the online world.
First of all, there’s no “foot traffic” that’s native to any particular area online. You have to actively market yourself on high-traffic websites.

Don’t rely on things like social sharing either. The most successful strategies (starting out) are paid ads. Then, if you can get a blogger to review your product, that will help boost your rankings in search engines. And, guest blog posts can also help if you have something valuable to contribute to a loyal community of another blogger’s readers.

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Victoria Pritchard has worked as a business consultant for several years, and had experience of running her own e-commerce businesses too. She writes for a variety of business blogs whenever she gets the time.