Starting an eCommerce businesses can be very easy, but also involve a lot of hard and strategic work. This past semester I took a class on eCommerce in which we had to, with a group, start an eCommerce business with a unique product. Our business idea was cold brew packs that allowed consumers to make their own personalized cold brew at home.The business was Cold City Brew and although we did great at selling products in person, selling them online was a different story.  Although getting the business up and running is very easy, it is very difficult to get your business known by consumers.A few helpful tips I learned are…

1. Pick a product that ships easily.

Shipping mason jars for our cold brew packs was a big mistake. Shipping is very expensive and shipping an item that’s breakable and larger may make the product much more expensive to ship to your customers. Determine the shipping cost of an item before you decide to start an eCommerce business around it.

2. Focus on photography and your website.

A big part of business in this day and age is the aesthetics. When customers see and advertisement or visit a website they want to see a company who offers an incredible aesthetic appeal. Just like in retail, customers look for an experience. Experience is what differentiates a good brand from a bad. Shopping online makes it so customers are unable to see the product at-hand. Having great pictures that help display the product will help increase conversions. Along with that, having a well designed website will keep customers on your website and lead to sales.

3. Create the brand- Why should customers choose you?

One of the most important parts of creating a successful eCommerce business is to create a good brand perception around your business. For our business we made it in to a social aspect in which we donated profits to the Udandan Water Project. A common trend for millennial’s is social causes. Commercials 5 years ago used to be all humor and now around 50% are tied to some sort of social cause. Not every business has to have a social cause, but at least create good customer service and a good product that’ll help make your customers love your product and want to tell their friends about it. Creating a positive brand perception will help increase exposure and help with word-of-mouth which is crucial for increasing sales.

4. Testimonials and customer reviews are a NEED

When you’re first starting out as a business, you must try your best to collect as many testimonials or customer reviews as possible. Advertising is becoming less trustworthy and customers only believe other customers on whether or not a product is worth it. Personal selling isn’t an option when it comes to eCommerce so gaining a lot of customer testimonials will help other customers to purchase your good. Advertising can only get people to your website. Customer reviews will get conversions.

5. Look at the Analytics

Shopify and Google both offer great analytical tools that should be looked at on a daily bases. Both help show which parts of your website and conversion process work and what don’t work. Spending a lot of time studying your analytics is crucial to being successful . Test some different website designs to help figure out what your consumers want. Marketing research can cost a lot of money, but with these analytical tools, you have a lot of data at your finger tips for free.

Starting a small business has gotten much easier with the internet. These tips are what I learned from starting Cold City Brew last semester. A lot of small eCommerce businesses fail because they don’t spend enough time focusing on their marketing and differentiation of their product. When it comes to marketing, spend some time looking at consumer trends that may help you be more effective in your ads. Choose a good target market and the right media platform. Spend a lot of time figuring out what the customers want and not what you think they want.