Many people want to start an e-commerce store, but they don’t because of two reasons:
- They don’t know where to begin, and
- They lose motivation
My goal with this article is to help you overcome both those obstacles.
E-Commerce is only going to get bigger.
Amazon.com technically began in 1994, but it was a relatively fledgling company until around 1998.
They started as a online bookstore, but quickly expanded to merchandise as well as books.
Actual statistics aside, common sense tells you that each and every year since then, online commerce has grown exponentially.
Now, when people shop, they think FIRST about checking online for something… they don’t think about jumping in the car and running to Best Buy or Walmart.
This past Christmas was the biggest ‘online’ shopping Christmas ever. Online activity is not going to slow down any for many years to come.
The sad fact of the matter is that online shopping is putting physical stores out of business.
The next ten years will see the retail landscape change dramatically… maybe with the big retailers having smaller ‘demo’ centers where you can go to check something out, but then you have to purchase it online. Who knows?
My point is that we are still in the ‘toddler’ years when it comes to online e-commmerce. We have a long way to go to be in the full maturity stage.
What is holding you back from starting an e-commerce store?
The three common worries people have about starting an e-commerce store are :
1. How can I compete with Amazon?
2. Isn’t it too late to actually get involved?
3. How can I compete with all the other e-commerce stores out there on the internet?
Lets take these three fears one at a time.
Can you compete with Amazon?
No. Even Wal-mart finds it tough to compete with Amazon. So don’t even try.
BUT… you don’t have to and you shouldn’t want to.
Your marketing strategy should not depend on selling everything to everybody like Amazon does.
Even they can’t do that (but they try). Hard as it might be to believe, there are lots of people who do not have an Amazon account and will never buy from them for whatever reason.
In addition, there are lots of people who are the occasional shopper who will buy from wherever they find the best deal, the best shipping or even something that Amazon doesn’t have.
Or the presentation of the product they find on Amazon is really lousy and they buy from a site that has a much better presentation.
Also, Amazon may have some products in the niche, but not many.
Or, Amazon’s price might be higher than yours.
There are many reasons people will buy something outside of Amazon.
This leads me to my first rule that you should always remember:
Never assume that you have buyers figured out.
You don’t know what makes a person buy. You know why YOU buy, but you DO NOT know why (or what) somebody else buys.
The bottom line is:
People buy from either necessity or emotions and unless you have their emotions figured out, you simply can’t assume you know what or why they buy things.
All that is a long way of saying the a shopper will land on your store and like it.
They’ll think ‘Oh… this site is so cute’ or ‘Wow..they have just what I was looking for’ or they’ll trust you since you are smaller and more ‘niche’ than a place like Amazon or Wal-Mart.
Bottom line: You don’t need to worry about competing with Amazon. People buy from all kinds of sites, including yours.
Is it too late to start your own e-commerce stores?
No. Not by a long shot. There may be many e-commerce stores, but if you sell things that people want, they’ll buy from you. (of course, you have to do things right… trust badges, reasonable pricing, free shipping or at least fast shipping, etc…)
Don’t let all the e-commerce training courses saying they have 10,000 buyers depress you. Out of 10,000, maybe 2 will actually follow through and start an e-commerce store.
How do you compete with all the other online stores?
Here’s how to compete with all the other e-commerce stores out there on the internet.
Build a niche e-commerce store.
It’s much easier to sell a set of things that pertain to a specific niche than it is to sell everything to everybody.
Niche buyers generally trust a store that caters to their niche. For instance, you could create a store that targets the salt water fish niche. There are ten’s of thousands of salt water fish hobbiests out there and if you sell things that they need or want, they’ll buy from you.
Many times, the things a hobbiest needs can only be found on smaller sites since most people want to sell huge selling items, like iphone cables (or any other type thing).
Don’t be fooled into thinking that a niche like salt water fish is too small and there aren’t enough buyers.
You shouldn’t try to go after a huge piece of the pie at first. Go after the smaller markets and become very good at them. That’s how you can compete. Know all about the niche, answer questions and build trust. Then people will gladly buy based on your recommendations.
- Target a specific niche.
- Become an expert in that niche.
- Help people in that niche and build trust.
Then you will always have people buying from you.
So, how do you begin?
Easy. Start by taking the first step. Then the next step, and then the third. Don’t try to have a 50 page plan with flowcharts and objectives all written out. If you do, you’ll never start. Just write down the first 5 things you’ll need and then take action.
When I think about how to start an e-commerce store, the first thing I do is find the niche to target. Ideally, it’ll be something I actually like or take an interest in, but what do you do if you’re not interested in anything (except sleeping and watching tv!)
Then pick out something you don’t hate.
Do you like sports? sewing? cooking? traveling? learning musical instruments? cosmetics? boating? The list is almost endless. But, like I said, even if you don’t really ‘like’ anything, or you feel like you aren’t good at anything, pick something you don’t hate and decide you will learn all about it.
(yes, you will have to work… there is no getting around it)
So, let’s say that you choose archery as a niche, but don’t know much about it.
Find out if there are people interested in archery. How?
Go to Amazon, look up any archery items and see how well they sell.
Go to Dick’s sporting goods and ask some of the salespeople if they sell any archery items and how well they sell.
Look online for Archery forums.
Go to YouTube and see how many views archery videos have.
Go to Google Adwords, check out the keyword planner and see what kind of volume the archery keywords have.
Go to Google Trends and see how archery trends (probably trends better in the summer than the winter).
Remember, it doesn’t have to have tons and tons of people to be a good niche.
What you are trying to find out is if there are ‘enough’ fans of archery to make it worthwhile to create your e-commerce store.
Also, keep in mind that many of the keyword planners show figures less than there actually are. Google may show you that there are 100 – 1000 searches for a particular keyword per month, but in reality, there are more than that.
Once you decide there is enough interest in the niche, then learn as much as you can, as quickly as you can.
I would go right back to you tube and start watching any and all archery videos, especially the training ones. How to hold a bow, how to place your arrow, what kind of equipment should you get, what kind of gloves, how far the target should be from the shooter, how does wind affect the arrow, etc…
Look at it as if it’s interesting, and soon enough, it will be interesting.
Find out about any national tournaments or competitions, where archery is most prevalent, what ages generally learn archery, etc…
Spend a week or two learning what you can, and they you will have a good idea what kinds of topics and products are important to the archery niche.
The reason learning is important is that then you will have plenty of material to write about.
You will also build up more confidence in yourself.
You can make a hybrid store where you write articles or reviews, and then offer products about your topic.
In archery, you can talk about what kind of arrows are the best kind for a windy day (or something like that).
Then offer those kind of arrows for sale on your site.
Now, for something really important:
This is maybe more important than anything else in this article.
DO NOT LET SELF DOUBT AND FEAR STOP YOU FROM ACHIEVING YOUR GOAL OF CREATING AN ONLINE STORE.
It (self doubt) will certainly try to stop you. You MUST overcome it and continue on regardless.
This leads me to my second and most important topic… how to not lose motivation.
It is sooooo easy to listen to the voices in your head that tell you:
1. you chose the wrong niche
2. you’re no good at it
3. you don’t have time
4. your work isn’t good enough
Whats the end result of this? You stop. You decide it’s a waste of time.
Every endevour in life is difficult and requires perseverance. When you were learning to read it took effort and you weren’t good at it. But you persevered and learned anyway.
Do NOT listen to yourself when you tell yourself to stop. You CAN do it, even on those days when you simply don’t want to.
But just do something, even if its a really small step forward. Do something. Accomplish something. Don’t give up.
People who are successful don’t usually have the ‘best’ product, nor do they have the ‘best’ methods, and they are usually not that ‘intelligent’, either. Why do they succeed?
Because they don’t stop or give up.
So… copy that behavior. Copy them by not giving up.
Decide that you will get your store online. Maybe it’ll be totally sub-par. So what? At least you’ve made it this far. Then, improve it, little by little and eventually, it’ll be the best store on the internet. Amazon didn’t start out as anything extraordinary, either. But once it was online, it continually improved and EVENTUALLY got to where it is now.
You can do it too.
This article deals mainly with motivation as to how to build an e-commerce store.
IF you need technical help in actually creating your store, please check out my article on How to Build a e-Commerce Store