Whether you have an established business that you want to branch out with online sales or you’re starting a business from scratch, getting experienced advice on ecommerce planning can help you. Brian Roberts, featured on Entrepreneur.com, has five excellent tips to help you start selling online.
What you need to focus on is making sure you have a clear picture of where your product line fits into the ecommerce landscape. If you’re just throwing things out onto the World Wide Web and hoping that they make money, you might be wasting time. Instead, find out who is already earning a profit selling in your market area, analyze what they’re doing well and where you can improve beyond them, and what your potential customers are looking for.
Brian gives concrete steps on how to gather this essential information, bypassing the deluge of information that you don’t need at the start. Here are five places to look — and what to look for:
This sounds like an easy one, but you might be surprised at what you’re searching for. Focus on companies who are selling a product similar to yours. Once you’ve found the closest matches you can, start searching out who is using paid advertising in their marketing. This is a pivotal point because paid marketing implies paying customers. This identifies a profitable niche, and you can also use Google’s keyword analysis features to gauge how much the clicks in your niche are worth.
Switching to auctions, you can get more information about your envisioned product line. The basic idea is to find out if customers are buying the kinds of things you want to be selling. And with any luck you’ll find that the market has some clear distinctions, including high-end merchandise, middle-range options, and a low tier as well. You can start in more easily and look forward to room for growth.
While this massive jungle of products is the de facto standard for online sales, what you’re looking for with this search is customer reviews. What are people saying about the current leaders in your product line? Each 5-star review can help you understand what your future clients value, while every 1-star rant let you know what pain-points and wished-for aspects could set your line apart from the competition.
While the first three sites are household words, this service is a little less well-known. SpyFu specializes in tracking top keywords and advertising channels. You can find out what successes and failures your competitors have already gone through. Then you can make the most of their lessons-learned.
This is another focused web service, this time concentrating on which websites various competitors link to and have inbound links from. They boast the largest index of live backlinks, with an update every 15 minutes on the approximately 4 billion web pages that are the WWW top set.
With this market analysis in hand, Brian recommends going forward with micro-testing, as well as deploying your ecommerce site. At this point, you have another big question in front of you — which ecommerce platform should you use?
John Hawthorne has posted an excellent survey of 10 leading ecommerce tools that are a) free, and b) open-source. This means you can download, launch, and start connecting your client base to your awesome product — without the stress of going into the red on Day One.
- Magento Community Edition – high functionality requires some technical aptitude
- osCommerce – veteran platform with fewer bells/whistles, but more community support
- OpenCart – simple, easy, quick on the server; not as many features
- Spree Commerce – a newer system with a flexible, modular setup, but less plugins or support
- PrestaShop – offers a wide variety of templates and modules, but the core system isn’t customizable
- Zen Cart – a great community to answer questions and good inventory options, but the default package requires some work for a professional look
- WooCommerce – a WordPress-only ecommerce platform, but mobile-friendly, scalable
- JigoShop – quick setup for WordPress sites, but you have to enter every item as a unique product
- Drupal Commerce – robust product administration and third-party integrations, but limited to use with Drupal sites
- VirtueMart – constrained to the Joomia platform, but with unlimited product listing, easy use for shoppers, and good SEO optimization
Whichever ecommerce platform seems best for your growing company, you’ll want to look ahead to software that can support you as company operations get more profitable and more complex. The modular, flexible aspects of these top ecommerce services highlights how customizable software can be a great asset. This holds true even more for business operations software. Ideally your software solution will address accounting, CRM, ERP, and support mobile staff across PC and Mac systems. It’s a lot to promise, but aACE 5 delivers on all counts. Look ahead to your future today.
“aACE has also worked well with 3rd party software we run on the web and integrated our online store with the aACE program. We are very happy with the product and service we’ve received from the aACE team!” ~ Sabrina Fabian, The John Birch Society