Opening an online store is an exciting prospect, but there are some basic things to consider before starting your online retail business. E-commerce is always evolving; commitment and continual learning are required to embrace the challenges and opportunities you are likely to encounter.
Target a Niche Market
Consider selling products in a niche market that solve enthusiasts’ problems as opposed to targeting a generic market. For example, if you intend to open a small online golf store, your business could specialize specifically in golf training aids. Selling to a specialized market segment reduces your marketing costs and helps your business compete against larger competitors with broader focuses.
Differentiate your online business by becoming known as an expert in the market you are targeting. For example, engage with your customers on your website, via social media and at trade exhibitions, showcasing your knowledge and experience.
Your website is typically the first contact your online business will make with customers; make sure it is user-friendly and easy to navigate. Ensure webpages load quickly and the checkout process is seamless. Offer multiple payment options to make it as convenient as possible for customers to purchase your products. Track analytics data on your website, monitoring metrics such as traffic numbers, conversion levels and how frequently customers share your website’s content. Knowing these statistics helps you optimize your website to enhance the shopping experience for your customers. Use customer input to expand your website’s page content, such as having customer product reviews. Ensure your website clearly states all of your business’s terms and conditions and explains your shipping policies.
Utilize Social Media
Customers are increasingly engaging with businesses using social media. Use platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest to build a social presence. For example, your online business could hold social media contests to reward customers who share your products through their profiles. Advertising your business’s website on social media can be a cost-effective way to gain direct exposure to your target market. Share videos that emphasize how your products help solve a customer’s problem. If your business sells technical products, share instructional videos that provide detailed explanations of how to use them. Consider working with a prominent blogger who reaches your target market to create trust and interest in your business’s products.
Canadian online businesses need to comply with provincial and territorial regulations. Familiarize yourself with the regulatory requirements of the regions where your online business is selling products. Regulations regarding e-commerce, advertising, online sales contracts, or the terms and conditions of a sale may vary across Canada. Regulations that apply to traditional brick-and-mortar businesses – such as copyrights, privacy and registering a business name – may also apply to online businesses. Being aware of your regulatory requirements can help minimize the risk of disputes and liabilities arising.