7 Things I Wish I Knew Before Starting an E-Commerce Business
Committing to something isn’t that easy, right? We all know the feeling of insecurity that can take over us when we’re up to something new and unfamiliar.
Had I known several years ago that e-commerce isn’t actually as scary and intimidating as I originally imagined, I never would have hesitated for so long before launching my first dropshipping store.
To be honest, it’s not just about psychology — some of these aspects turned out to be crucial for the whole business management side of things, and it’s a shame it took me so long to figure them out.
But after all, even though I learned it the hard way, I still learned it. And that’s awesome.
1. Legal obstacles are minimal
Dropshippers generally find themselves in quite a favorable environment. To run this type of e-commerce business, you don’t need to have an officially established company.
I have to warn you, it’s not a universal trend. But it’s certainly true for the vast majority of the markets I have sampled, including China — and I’ll describe this awesome experience a bit later.
Actually, at the very beginning I wasn’t registered as a legal entity. I worked as a private individual, and it turned out I can go with it pretty easily. Not all suppliers want you to be officially registered, and they will readily collaborate with you even if you’re just an ordinary person. The best paperwork is no paperwork.
2. China is great
Not that I didn’t know it before. The country that achieved such tremendous growth in several decades can’t be underestimated, that’s for sure.
Still, when evaluated as a business partner, China is quite often considered to be…well, not quite reliable. It’s a fairly popular superstition that is based on rumors of poor quality items, lousy sellers, horrendous postal service, etc., etc., etc.
60% of shoes manufactured all over the globe are produced in China.
For mobile telephones, this figure is even more impressive — 70%.
These numbers were calculated by The Economist in 2015, and, to be fair, I believe they are slightly higher now.
There’s a Moscow-based indie rock group called Everything is made in China, and oh, I couldn’t agree more. I don’t even want to mention the fact that it’s nearly impossible to track the real origin of items we use daily.
Having worked with Chinese suppliers for over a year now, I know how intensely they fight to secure client satisfaction. The number of local manufacturers keeps rising, and the competition is fierce. Therefore, they either win over clients and partners, or suffer losses. As a potential business partner, I’m happy with such a balance of power.
3. It’s not only about the niche
I have to admit, it was quite a surprise to learn that my commercial success is not exclusively defined by the niche I’ve chosen.
In other words, miracles don’t happen that often!
Sure enough, the niche matters. This is why you need to approach the choice really carefully and consider the financial appeal and marketing potential of a niche, as well as your own interests.
Still, it doesn’t mean that you can pick a fast growing niche and rest on your laurels. That’s not how it works.
It’s not enough to simply choose a niche and create a lovely website with simple and intuitive navigation. You need to keep working on the store’s marketing and promotion. The more internet users you attract to the store, the better.
4. Marketing isn’t that scary
If you’ve never tried creating your own droshipping venture before, you most likely don’t have any idea about online marketing whatsoever. And that’s okay.
The lesson I’ve learned during my very first marketing attempts is really simple: don’t be afraid of modern promotion channels.
You’ve never heard of Pinterest before? It’s fine.
You don’t know how Instagram works? You’ll sort it out.
You don’t have a clue about Facebook ads? It can be fixed.
Numerous tutorials, guides and step-by-step videos will help you out even if you don’t know what you’re doing. All you need to do is brace yourself and delve deeply into the matter. Having spent several hours on reading, watching and researching this stuff, you will start to feel much more confident.
5. You don’t have to do all the marketing yourself
Living in the era of automation, you don’t necessarily have to do the entire marketing job yourself.
While you need to always stay in control of your marketing strategy, you can easily use various technical solutions aimed at making your entrepreneurial life easier. For example, there are programs and plugins that generate some basic content automatically based upon the parameters you set. These posts are then automatically distributed within the social networks of your choice.
Of course, you will need to monitor comments and interact with subscribers. You will also need to keep an eye on the whole process and check the posts from time to time. Still, this solution is usually much easier than trying to do it all manually.
6. Emotions matter
We’re all humans, and we’re all driven by emotions, even (and especially) when we’re trying to be rational.
84% of US citizens admit that they have a habit of impulse purchasing.
This statistics from CBS News quite evidently lets us know that emotional buying is more than common and should be taken into account. In other words, we should and must create our stores in such a way that motivates visitors to do some spontaneous shopping.
Is the store designed in a clean and appealing way?
Is the navigation clear and simple?
Is the checkout procedure easy and understandable?
You won’t believe how many webstore visitors leave sites without placing an order just because they need to register, provide some data and verify their account, etc. in order to simply make a purchase!
The same goes for poorly designed websites. If a customer can’t find the necessary product category or a shopping cart, or they don’t see the delivery terms or can’t reach the support team, chances are you’ll never see them buying from you.
7. People don’t read
Quite surprisingly, that’s true.
You provide detailed product info at the end of the description section, and it’s ignored.
You mention that the product has several color variations, and it’s ignored.
You explain the procedure of returns and refunds, and it’s ignored.
The media space these days is incredible. While browsing various pages, we have to filter information carefully. Otherwise, our cognitive resources will be exhausted.
As a webstore owner, you need to consider this and make it impossible for your potential customer to miss the important details.
All of these discoveries, both obvious and surprising ones, turned out to make quite an impact on the performance of my webstore. After all, they helped me realize that even though e-commerce seems scary and complicated, it’s actually fine. All you need to do is just to get started!