You look at e-Commerce market data and growth expectations, and just say "I must be there!"
You are right, be bullish about going on-line sales but keep your foot on the ground or the competition will put you down...
The market is growing fast and there is room for a lot more people
Be professional. Start with a plan and be prepared to defeat the threats and your competitors.
The magic plan
The magic around e-Commerce is collaboration: good providers, product/services differentiation, customer relationships and superb team delivery.
Before we jump into the four magics, it will only happen if you have a strong wish. Seems like a tale? Sort of. You need to mix your wish, your will, your dreams and your skills to create your vision. The vision is not what you sell, not what you do, not the market, neither of these. The vision is what you are, and always will be. Vision must reflect your passion. Tales apart and foot on the ground: what you will be happily doing 5 years from now? 10 years? 40 years? In my case, my vision is "I will be helping people succeed in their careers" - and that is what I do today, I'm a consultant and I'd love to live the next 50 years doing this same thing. Some people are "teaching" or "change the world" or "fulfilling photographers needs" (that is sales btw) or whatever your vision is, go for it.
A secret: steer clear from money vision. Money is not the goal, it is just the consequence of making a goal. Be bold in your vision and the reward will follow.
When you have a vision in place, than the plan starts:
- Who are the providers to fulfill the vision? Do they contribute to the values that support my vision? Selecting providers is a method called "sourcing", but you may also read about "dropshipping" because logistics failures may "eat your strategy by lunch". Perhaps you are milling to sell the products that you make, or the software, the books, the services you provide, well, fit them into the vision or abandon them quickly. Do not let your passion for the product you made impede you from achieving your vision.
- What products or services build to that vision? What is unique about this product or service in delivering my vision? Uniqueness is what builds on differentiation. Perhaps you should read "The blue ocean strategy", that book digs into differentiation strategy.
- Customer relationships is simplier than you may think. It is about showing you care, respect and is open to help them. You can search articles on CRM in this blog and thousands of sites on the web. The simple process is to have a communications channel: chat, blog, Whatsapp, e-mail, phone... be open but, only keep the channels you can answer, for instance, I do not answer through Twitter because I do not have the time, so I do not promote contacts through Twitter. Let your client knows how and when you respond and, every time you get in touch, write it down to remember later.
- Superb team! e-Commerce is not the web site alone, you have people behind the screen: answering client requests, solving pre-sales questions, cleaning shopping carts that never closes, calling back customers, packing and shipping, managing finances, paying, collecting, purchasing, stocking, setting prices, measuring returns, filling the orders, reverse logistics, and the list goes on. Even if you have done everything right, if the team fails, you fail. Perhaps you want to read about leadership - ask me for references by email.
Is that enough to beat Amazon? Nope. To find your space you need to find a niche.
You start with a vision (again?!), from there you define your differentiation (the uniqueness about product and services) and the stuff that you know that can be shared with customers (the match of customer relationship and superb team).
According to this article, Amazon Inc. dominates the list of the top 50 e-commerce companies and is followed by Apple Inc., Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and Macy’s Inc. Can you compete on price and volume with these guys? They are the sharks of the open seas, we are the fishes on the coral reefs, we have color and flavors and experiences that the sharks cannot copy. What you know and do that cannot be copied? Think of unique products, services and customer relations - these are the things that do not scale. The sharks do not pay attention to corals, they want to eat big chunks of fat food, they will not bother to copy your uniqueness - that is why a niche is so important.
Get a niche! Personalization is key, read this article from Forbes.
An finally, you need a fast and reliable e-shop, it can be self made if you have the skills or you can get a professional site for very low cost.
Ask questions by email.