If you’re reading this then you may be thinking it’s time to get your online business idea off the ground. Awesome. Before you develop and launch an eCommerce business, you need to perfect your product and purpose.
eCommerce Continues to Rise
eCommerce is one the fastest growing industries in the world and for good reason: Aussies spent $50.46 billion shopping online in 2020 and Covid-19 has accelerated the shift in online shopping by 3 years.
Australian eCommerce has had unprecedented growth since April 2020.
“By year’s end, the market came close to hitting growth forecasts that were originally set for five years from now, as more people shop online, more often, for more types of products.”MarketingMag
The demand for online shopping experiences isn’t going away, which gives you a growing audience to sell to. But beware, while setting up an online store can be done in less than a day, it can take longer than you expect to develop an eCommerce product.
Taking the time to perfect your idea, however, will pay dividends later.
Here’s how to develop an eCommerce product before you launch an eCommerce business:
- Conduct market research
- Learn from experienced operators
- Get to know your suppliers
- Plan for Beyond the Store
1. Conduct Market Research
Firstly, you’ll need to conduct market research so you can make informed decisions about your product and brand. To create an eCommerce product you’ll need to:
- Outline the problem your product will solve – aka, what solution is missing and why will people love your product? Shopify offers a free tool to help you search for potential eCommerce products. You can also use Google Trends to show you which search terms and shopping demand is on the rise.
- Describe who your ideal customer is – aim to create 2- 3 buyer personas
- Understand your competitors and how customers currently solve their problems without your product or using alternatives
- Map out your suppliers, materials and who and where you’ll manufacture your product
- Map out your supply chain – how will you get your materials to your manufacturer, to your warehouse and to your customer?
- Calculate your Cost of Goods Sold (COGS) and Cost of Sale
- Understand which geography to sell into first; and
- Be aware of industry and consumer trends that influence your customer’s purchasing behaviour.
This will be a bible to live and breathe by.
A great way to make a concise overview of these essential eCommerce business planning elements is to use a Lean Canvas. Be concise! Distil down your ideas and communicate your business opportunity and considerations.
2. Learn from Experienced Operators
Connect with eCommerce business owners. Talk about communities that are willing to support you and share knowledge. They’ll likely have great tips on how you can develop your eCommerce product before its launch. Working full time while you get ready to launch? Consider joining an eCommerce accelerator like Lady Startup or Fishburners which will help you organise your thoughts, channel that energy for good!
Ready to launch but need to start small? Try a dedicated desk in a purpose built eCommerce Coworking Hub. You’ll be surrounded by like minded entrepreneurs and experienced teams. And when you’re ready to accept your first shipment of inventory and start selling, you can upgrade to a combined office/showroom with built-in storage.
Your uncle’s mate who once worked a casual job in warehousing may not be the best source of information on how to launch an eCommerce business. But believe us, you’ll have plenty of people who’ll give you “advice”. To sharpen your knowledge and instincts, instead, learn from eCommerce experts with demonstrated results. There’s plenty of online sources too.
3. Get to Know Your Suppliers
Invest in detailed background checks for your suppliers. Go beyond the website and get into the reviews. Insist on talking with at least two references and do your own homework. What have past or current customers experienced?
When it comes to product manufacturing, how does the supplier handle defects and what’s their dispute resolution process if an order goes wrong? What are their payment terms and minimum order quantities (MOQs)? Can they help you with barcodes, customs and freight?
PRO TIP! It may seem like a minute detail when you’re focused on designing and manufacturing a product but the payment terms of your suppliers can have a huge impact on your cash flow and ultimately, the success of your eCommerce business.
Watch this webinar on the 7 Ways to Finance Your eCommerce Business and learn what could work best for your business.
4. Plan for Beyond the Store
Receiving your finished product for the first time is a momentous milestone. Congratulations. You made it over your first big hurdle!! Now your focus moves onto customer experience design: which includes marketing and sales, shipping and order fulfilment and customer service.
You may find it takes more time (read, so much more time!) and energy and your eCommerce product design and development journey is peppered with unexpected challenges along the way.
Give yourself a chance to be re-inspired as you encounter setbacks and don’t sway from that inner drive that pushes you to deliver value and quality.
In Episode 1 of Beyond the Store, Jana and Bill Baramilis founders of natural hair care brand, Livani, reveal the obsession and determination needed as they move forward facing challenges with packaging and solving real world environmental issues.
Jana says patience is key. “There was a lot of doubt in my mind that it was ever going to happen, there was a moment where we thought we weren’t going to do it, you kind of think is it ever going to get right? It is a challenge because you need so much patience.”
Beyond The Store illustrates how vital perseverance is, especially when developing your product.
“In this first episode, we show how hard it is to create a product that excels,” says Beyond The Store director and Workit Spaces Senior Producer, Alessio De Nicola.
“It is not an easy path to create something unique and how determined Jana was in crafting her idea and didn’t compromise on anything with Livani. I really respect Jana and Bill and what they achieved.”
The Secret to Perfecting an eCommerce Product
With more people shopping online, old assumptions that it’s simpler, easier and cheaper to create an eCommerce business no longer hold true. Gaining traction can be tough so invest your time wisely in developing an eCommerce product people need and are willing to pay for, prepare a solid business plan and be willing to test and learn.
Beyond good planning and determination, be ready to be obsessed with your eCommerce business. You’re going to be thinking about and designing your product by day and dreaming about it at night!
Your determination and resilience will act as a strong foundation when you face inevitable challenges. Keep going, and keep testing and tweaking your product until you reach perfection and ultimately launch your eCommerce business.