Following your competitors and aiming only for being online is not the right way you miss a lot of things.
You must have a clear vision and what you are aiming to do before being online.
Here are 6 Steps to do before start your E-Commerce company:
1) Market research
Before taking any step, you should know where you are stepping. Studying the market is an essential step, not an optional like some people think.
You can make a qualitative or quantitative research over the Internet either by a freeway or by simple gifts to motivate people to join your research.
2) Set clear strategy
Have a clear vision: where you want to go? and how you are going there?
First you have to identify your company strategic direction
A- you have existing products and existing markets, so you need to follow market penetration method.
B- if you are offering new products in existing market, you need to follow new products and services method.
C- existing products and targeting new market, you follow market development method
D- new market and new products, you use conglomerate diversification
Once you identify the direction, you put clear simple strategy that understood by everyone in the company.
- Know your target customers well
- Make a persona for your customers imagine: what they like, how they wear, where they like to go.
- Study your target customers’ behaviors online.
What languages they are using, how they talk, how they spend their time over the net, what kind of pages they like, and what tone of voice you should use (talk to them).
- You can use some tools to follow your customers’ behaviors, for example, Facebook gave us many tools to know our customers better and what kind of pages they are interested in.
For example, you can target girls between18 and 20 years old who are interested in IT pages. Other analysis, you should do manually like your customers’ comments and interactions.
- Social baker and Google also are making our life easier; every day they offer more features.
- Study well where your customers spend more time over your website and analyze why.
3) Build your website
Now you have determined your strategy, know your customers and how you are going to handle them, and build a good website.
- There are a lot of websites offering free templates and very easy to build your websites, like WordPress and magneto.
- It is important to build the website architecture before you start.
- Simply, Website architecture is the chart for your website, how many pages, what pages will lead to where and how many clicks for your customers to reach their distention.
- Your website colors and themes should be the same as your brand identity.
- Brand identity is very important to use same colors, font and logo on every single media, so your customers can know you from the colors or the font.
- The content website is not only about specs, pictures, and prices but also how you are going to present your product and service.
- After you know now the right tone of voice to use with your target customers, you write the content in a way and language that they like to read.
- Updating your website is not an option; it is a long going process.
Having e-commerce website is not an online process only.
- You have to build your logistics and offline process before you start.
- Be sure you are going to achieve what you promise your customers.
- Be sure of products quality in your inventory good documentation of quantity to avoid sales without having stock
5) Control and monitoring
Put clear KPIs for every step in the selling process and draw a work process cycle which is clear and be shared with all team members.
For example, how you are going to update the content.
What shall your team do after receiving an order?
Confirmation process with customers.
Order handling and logistics process.
What is the process for returns and cancelation?
Documentation is very important, make your own manual, write down all the process, the correct action you took towards the problems and how you solve them
6) Measuring and analysis
This step also neglected by many people. How are you going to know that you have made it or not?
Measure how many you sold, what items, and why these items are more than others
What days and what time purchases are made? What are their demographic and areas of residents?
Google is a good tool in collecting information but you cannot depend on this tool only till now you have to do some manual work.
Collect all these information and start to analysis, hear and observe your customers behaviors and take the corrective actions
By the End of the Day Before starting your Company Don’t miss to :
- Study your targeted market & Audience well
- Set clear vision and strategy
- setting smart objectives for your business and achievable plan
- Start Building your embassy ” Your website”
- Act from point of Project management in your logistic
- Always Measure and analysis to be always in the right track
- In all your process don’t miss control over all your plan and activites.
E-commerce is one of the big industry over world using the power of Digital Marketing.
In 2014 the Central Bank announced that power of Purchasing online are 70 Million Dollars expecting to increase by the upcoming 2 years especially the increasing of the awareness of Online Purchasing & E-Commerce overall in Egypt the region.
In this article we will cross over all E-Commerce in 4 main pillars to guide us in the Landscape of E-Commerce:
1) E-Commerce Landscape
E-commerce is the use of the internet and web to transact business. How to make commercial transaction, on digital platform. E-commerce is about main elements which are people, technology and the process you choose to make the commercial transactions. There are different models of e-commerce according to the business model you choose (B2B, B2C, B2G, C2C, G2G, G2B, G2C). You need to choose the commercial processes between different models as well (brick and mortar, hybrid, brick and click, click and mortar, pure play)
Brick and mortar:-
This commercial model depends on having physical presence than virtual one . this commercial model has a physical store that you can test , touch and purchase their products or services.
Clicks and mortar: –
This model sell online as well as they have physical store.
This commercial model represent companies that have only virtual presence no physical stores.
A recent comScore presentation reports that almost 70% of the customers make research the internet and it is very essential for their decisions making for buying certain products. About 6% of the customers do online purchase.
It is the % of customers who login to your website or see your social advertising and actually buy from you. The conversation rates for the last few years were about 3-3.5%.
E-commerce web 1.0: –
In the beginning of the Internet, companies start thinking of having online presence. Shopping cart application is the first form of web 1.0.
Some of them simply publish online products catalogue on the web. Others allows end-to-end experiences like adding some features like allowing customers to search and find products. also they allowed to choose between products and add them in virtual shopping cart , choose shipment method and payment method.
E-commerce web 2.0
Web 2.0 websites are build in interactive way to accomplish the 2-way communication between companies and customers. In web 2.0 users can generate content as well as 2-way communication. Web 2.0 such as ( twitter, YouTube, Instagram , Wikipedia )
For many companies and retailers e-commerce represents their fastest revenue channels. Through e-commerce platform companies are aiming to give their customers a whole customers experience not only delivering their products to them. Companies also find ways to connect their social media to their e-commerce platform is named as social web, which facilitate the reach, hear, and understanding of their customers better. According to Mckinsey survey 2007, ¾ of executives said they would maintain or increase their investment over technology like web services and social media.
E-commerce web 3.0
This web service is a software services that helps to connect computer to computer over net, And easily interact together. WEB3.0 promised that applications can easily speak to each others on different devices and for boarder search for information through simpler interfaces.
Web 3.0 is the evolution of web 2.0. this definition is raised by Tim o’Reilly it represents the connective intelligence, applications and ultimately people.
2)Technology enables for e-commerce and digital marketing
Reaching e-commerce with the available features wouldn’t have happened without the development of advanced technology of hardware and software.
- Business intelligence and data mining
Knowing your customers across different channels is not any easy thing if you don’t have the right BI capabilities. For example identifying your online customers on your physical store , allowing your customers to by online and pick their products from store achieving a high loyalty of your customers.
Data mining helps in knowing your customers much better track his purchasing behaviors, which helps in how to make good suggestions for their next buying.
BI helps to evaluate your products usage and services and what to focus on to develop to meet customers expectations, saving a lot of cost and more efficiency launching new products.
- User experience
To reach a good quality of users experience you shouldn’t miss any touch points with your customers.
Using rich media (video, audio) for example enhance the users experience by letting them know more about your products and services. It is so easy to create video demo about how to use the products. This is possible thanks to technology like Adobe flash and Microsoft silver light. These technologies also help in creating engaging experience for customers as well as building informative and functional designs .
With the first appearance of mobile smart phones mobility importance increased. Now customers can buy anything anytime from their mobiles. Also SMS is used extensively in developing countries as a medium to push sales through promotions. Mobiles can be used as well to scan barcodes in stores to get more information about products and services online. Mobile payments become one of booming technology through a device in a store just scan your mobile and payment is done.
High % of organic referrals or traffic to your website will come from search engine. Companies usually pay more attention to work on search engine optimization whether paid or free to appear in the first couple of pages when their customers search for them or one of their products and services .
- Content management
Introducing content software in the last period make it easier to save content modify and organize in any platform. Software like Microsoft SharePoint is very advanced software to manage content.
- Web services
Now a day the need of application to application integration is more agile and transparent. Department uses service oriented architecture (SOA) for better connection and to manage their applications.
The service oriented architecture is a technique to integrate different services that function indecently. These services communicate with each other. Communication between SOA can be simple data or different services.
The ability to make suitable architecture, to put all the services to work well together. SOA can leverage services within applications to work individually or with other applications. SOA architecture help in upgrading and no need to start from scratch.
e-commerce platform, can be used for different purpose such as CRM, supply chain management or sales.
In sales, for example you have different processes such as payment, inventory management and crm how to integrate all these separated services within the same platform this is through the SOA.
- Virtualizing and cloud computing
Virtualization make it possible to different applications to be executed on single physical hardware and demand.
Virtualization make it possible to creat virtual machine that emulates physical computer. Creating a separated OS environment than the host server. This approach helps in operating systems to run on single physical machine.
This approach saved a lot of time in past the administrator had to make special configuration to every single application in different language. Also saving money on different servers.
- Cloud computing
It is a concept of using hardware out source such as CPU as a service instead of buying and paying for hardware and IT management and obtains all the needed service from the service provider.
Virtualization reduces the cost of hardware bought by companies to run different applications. Also assure the service level same at peak time or lowest traffic. It is possible to scalpel your services as well as your platform anytime.
Companies show more attention to the online advertising they even reduces their expenditure on others medium like TV and newspaper. They aim to get more traffic and more conversation by online banners, Social Media Marketing , search engine optimization and Offline Marketing channels. They use games and videos production for digital medium as well.
- Instant Messaging
For applying the best users experience, Companies should cover all available touch points used by their customers.
Many web site allows chatting with their customers for better customers satisfactions. The chat is whether by writing or by voice.
Technology helps to find more convince ways to pay money safely online one of these approaches is PayPal and radio frequency identification that can easily transmit payment to physical store.
3)Prescriptive architecture fundamentals
There are different approaches proven, tested and repeatable to design applications to meet business and technical requirements assuring a certain level of performance, cost, and security. Some features should be in any prescriptive architecture such as user friendly, scalable, extensible and reliable.
Also some factors should be taken into consideration.
- who is the target segment for the software or solution developed and how they are going to use it
- the situation of the current IT environment and systems that the solution has to integrate with.
- what the solution will need in deployment phase and hardware constraints.
- The quality standers needed for the solution such as security, performance and manageability.
- What business and technology trends affect the solution
- Maintenance and management for the solution
- Needed Process
4) Design fundamentals
Designing phase is very important it shows how you are going to present the application and how user friendly it will be.
A good design should be flexible enough to make any changes required.
Some key principles are needed in e-commerce design solution.
- Design that last and built to change
A good design solution can easily handle any number of users needed, more data, and geographic explanation.
A good design should meet ant business model changes needed. For example if you choose to design 3-tire system this good design should allow you to extend this solution to be hosted on cloud without rewriting , for example.
- Design incrementally and iteratively
It is more convenience to avoid designing big upfront. Concentrate on the key components and prove and disapprove the key assumptions. Then focus on more details to add. It is valid to go back and make changes needed.
- Use test driven development
Testing is a step might be ignored by some developers it is very important step to test your codes, and your design functionality. Also test your security and threats may attack the design.
- Separate your application into logical units
It is much better in testing to break down your application in the user interface to be sure that no overlap will happen.
- Create reusable code modules
It is better to be sure that component of the system can be reused rather than implementing the same function or features.
- Use well defined interfaces
Components of the solution shouldn’t know about the internal working of another component. They should only communicate through agreed interface or contract. This will help in maintained and extensions.
Be always prepared before launching your E-Commerce Brand , and make your studies well ,
Fullfill all your integrated channels & Your operations and listen carefully to your Audience.