Your first store is an experiment

Customers won’t come to your store just because you built it. So your first store is an experiment to find out what works best. Create an affordable professional looking shop but spend your biggest effort on attracting customers and getting them to buy from you.

It doesn’t matter how well you build your store or how good it looks. Unless you tell everyone about it, you are unlikely to sell much.

So what is the best way to enter eCommerce?

With an experimental store.

Your experimental store

Start by picking a good e-commerce solution.

The only thinkg you really need to worry about is, that it will support mobile phones and tablets and supports the functions, that are important to you.

Spend as little as you can

Then don’t spend all of your money on creating your store.

On the contrary: try to get away with the smallest possible investment.

To start selling all you really need is a professional looking store. Or a product listing. In fact just any method which allows you to put your products in front of your potential customers in a professional manner.

That’s enough to start out.

Instead of taking forever to create your first store, get one ready as quickly as possible. Even if it doesn’t contain all your products.

Don’t procrastinate

Most of us procrastinate trying to get things just right. Or even better.

You could say some of us are afraid of being successful. Or of failing, whichever way you want to see it.

Because once you put your store out there, you have to deal with reality. Not with your dreams of instant success or fear of failure.

Are you familiar with the following what-ifs?

What if my store isn’t good enough? What if no one likes it? What if they don’t end up buying from me? What if I make just this one more change?

You need answers

These are interesting what-ifs.

But do they really help or do they simply paralyze you?

What you really need is answers to your questions. As quickly as possible, to make sure you are on the right track.

The only way to get them is from real customers.

A different position

What about the following what-ifs:

I just spent all my money on a new online store: What if nobody likes it ? What if it isn’t good enough? What if they don’t end up buying in my store?

The questions are the same.

But your position is vastly different.

Your money is gone and you may have spent a lot of time getting things right.

You have lost all ability to react to changing conditions – to experiment with what works best.

If the answers to your questions aren’t what you were hoping for, you are locked into an approach which isn’t working.

Stuck with no room to move.

Not a good position to be in.

Your first store is an experiment

Think of your first store as an experiment which you are trying to run with the smallest investment possible.

The result of your experiment will be the answers to your questions and help set you up for eCommerce success.

  • Can you attract customers?
  • Do you have products they want to buy?
  • Can you offer prices your customers are willing to pay?
  • Can you provide the service customers expect so they will become repeat buyers?

Put out the word

Putting the word out there to attract your first customers should be your highest priority.

Because without them you lack answers. Your assumptions will be based on guesswork.

And no matter how much you flatter yourself, those assumptions will not always be educated.

If no one comes to visit, or if those who visit don’t buy, what good will the best looking store full of products be?

And if no one knows about your online store, where will those first customers come from?

Money for marketing

Search engines are unlikely to do the trick. Most of them will only list you in good enough positions, when you are already popular.

That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t optimize your website for search engines; it just means you’ll have to find other ways to promote your store when you start out.

Many of those ways cost money: for example to market on social media, to advertise on search engines, or to simply to change your stationary, so that your existing customers in the real world know you have a new outlet online.

Or marketing will cost your time – which is same as money. While you experiment with the best ways to attract customers, to try to establish where best to find them and how to turn visitors into buyers, you have no income from your store nor time to generate other income.

But with all your money gone and time quickly running out, how will you attract those first customers?

Easier with an existing website

If you already have an existing website with real traffic, things are easier.

After all, you already have  visitors who you can turn into buyers.

Just add some products to your website to see, how your visitors respond. Even just listing your bestsellers, or your potential bestsellers, will be a good start.

Gather intelligence

Once you have your first customers, you can start gathering intelligence about them.

Watch what they do on your website.

Talk to them and ask them how they like your shop.  Howe they found you and why they decided to buy from you. Find out which products they are missing.

In short: use your customers’ feedback and behavior to improve your store over time. Or, if required, even to dramatically change your direction.

Change of direction

Some people sell because they have a passion about some products.

Others don’t mind what they sell, as long as it generates an income.

Wouldn’t it be better to find out if your passion translates into sales without breaking the bank?

Or to be able to change your offerings, while you still have room to manoeuvre?

Think about this, when you plan your first store.

Start selling

Then stop procrastinating and start selling as quickly as you can.

The sooner you find out what your customers really want, the sooner you will be successful.

All the best,

Steffan Klein

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