By Nicky Felix, founder and owner of Box2
E-commerce has opened a lot of doors in the business world: for some, it has provided an additional source of income and extended reach for existing companies; for others, it has made businesses viable where they never could have been on the high street. But just because it has enabled new possibilities doesn’t mean that it’s the easy way of doing things. Here are some top tips for establishing and running a successful online business.
Use What You Have
When going into business, it is wise to go with your strengths and interests, in order to have the best chance of knowing your industry, fitting well into it, and keeping motivated. If you haven’t even decided what business to go into yet, consider your skillset and what you really enjoy doing, and give thought to how you could make these a viable business venture. You are more likely to make a go of it if your business is both your passion and your expertise.
More than half of business transactions are made online, so it is really important to have top-notch technologies to keep up with demand. Not only should making purchases from your online business be quick, simple and secure, but you should have software in place that monitors and analyses your customers’ activity so you can cater to their tastes and deliver a better customer experience.
Customer is key, and failure to keep them at the forefront can spell disaster for a new business. Remember to cater to their needs as often as possible, and to add small touches that show you care, such as small thank-you cards with each delivery or exclusive birthday discount vouchers. These sorts of gestures are what make a customer feel valued and more inclined to give their loyalty in return.
In an era where smartphones and other mobile devices are prominent, the majority of online purchases are made from phones or tablets, making a mobile-optimised e-commerce website an absolute essential. Trying to make purchases from a mobile device on a non-optimised website is a frustrating experience, and almost all customers will give up before they complete a transaction,so do not risk this high bounce rate, and make sure your mobile site is user-friendly.
Advertising and SEO
A lot of advertising efforts can be wasted if they are not designed and positioned correctly, with the customer in mind, so make sure to carry out plenty of market research to decide exactly who you are reaching out to, and what they will react positively to. Meanwhile, make sure your online content is search-engine optimised to give you the best chances of coming up tops in online searches.
Move With the Times
Business moves at a fast pace, as do the trends that define it, and often, failure to move with the times can be fatal. With a creative mind and flexibility, going with the flow doesn’t mean that you have to lose your brand identity – on the contrary, your brand identity should remain stronger than ever when going through transitions. Don’t forget – customer is key, and if you no longer supply what they seek, they are unlikely to hang around.
About the author
Nicky Felix is the founder and owner of Box2 which began as a retail store in Brighton. In 2000, Nicky identified a major gap in the market for clothing in larger sizes and now runs a successful online shop with a range of clothing items and accessories for sizes 12-34. Box 2 quickly developed a nationwide customer base and in 2005 the launch of the new website brought the Box 2 brand to its widest possible audience offering the full range of clothes and accessories to ladies across the world.