Have you ever wondered about launching your offline business and transform it into an online eCommerce success leading to a juggernaut?
Well Yeah, everybody wants that to happen. But how do you think you would be able to get your business or store at that level?
First, you need to have a proper business plan regardless of your views, thought process or anything else. Discuss your project with an expert and your accountant. An expert will guide you through, and if you are missing anything in your plans regarding any essential aspect, the expert can check the specific requirements with you. Also, your accountant will take care of the initial process for launch, and you should specifically check about your taxation requirements as and when you grow along with the rest of your business process.
One thing is a must; you would start complying with any government regulations from the very first day. By government regulations, I mean, where you start your business and the localisation where you intend to sell your goods. If you fail to do so from the beginning, you may have to face difficult situations at a later stage. At that point, you would need to go through everything again from ground zero and keep rectifying every minor aspect of the process.
This complying process with every rule & regulation is not just with the relevant government, but you also need to consider the relevant marketplace. If you ever fail to comply with the policies of the marketplaces, they will restrict you from selling your goods on their marketplace. They can eventually ban you if you continue to do so, disregarding any of their messages or compliance policies.
What is eCommerce?
Well, practically speaking, eCommerce is just a process of selling your goods or services online on any platform or your website.
At first, it might make you overwhelmingly uncomfortable. You might think about how to get around the whole process and why is it so complicated with all sorts of complications, policy issues, marketplace & government regulations etc.
But there is nothing to worry about, and I am here to guide you through any issues theoretically & practically. I am going to discuss everything you would ever need to succeed in eCommerce and how to go around and plan your journey from the very initial stage and grow along with your forecasted approach.
How to plan your eCommerce success in 2021, with all the complications around you?
Well, life is full of complications, questions & solutions. There is nothing simple in this modern era where you run your business without competition or following specific rules. As we talk about eCommerce, there are already many marketplaces, courier services, platforms, tools that have in collision given rise to multi-channel eCommerce.
This may sound very complicated, but believe me, once I have explained everything about it, there won’t be any panic left around you. Multi-Channel eCommerce means to sell your goods or services on all or every possible platform wherever you wish to. Well, you might think that selling on a single platform itself is a daunting thought. Why are we even talking about more than one platform. And let’s get along as this is the only way to success in 2021.
Well, there are also other things to consider when we talk about multi-channel eCommerce. Brexit has turned up many other factors to consider. The issue with Brexit can go rather deep, so let us continue with the overall requirements and how to resolve the general aspects.
If you are low on budget and still considering getting your feet wet with eCommerce, you should consider dropshipping. The dropshipping allows you to start launching on various platforms without holding stock and meagre investment comparatively. However, dropshipping will never let you make a good margin. Even when there are many opportunities available to make a margin, your supplier will always manipulate the prices and only let you have a specific margin percentage.
How would you plan to start & launch your eCommerce business?
There are many platforms to consider, viz., Amazon, eBay, Etsy, OnBuy etc. You can register on any of these platforms and start selling your stuff. You would need to list your products on these platforms individually. This is one of the most cumbersome tasks, but of course, if you don’t do it, your goods won’t be available on the marketplace, and you won’t be able to generate any sales and thereby any revenue.
But you must choose your marketplace smartly because every marketplace charges some sort of monthly fees to let you sell on their platform. Besides the monthly fees, they would also charge you some percentage of commission on every sale, depending on the product category. So, before you start generating your expenses, you should plan your approach right and look for the best marketplace for your products. Generally, Amazon & eBay are considered the best marketplaces to start with, and you can then keep expanding to other marketplaces.
However, OnBuy is one of the fastest-growing marketplaces within the UK, so if you wish to grow along you should always consider opting in.
What tools would you consider?
Before we dive deep into tools, I want to explain and clarify that it is vital that you choose your tool beforehand because it is very clear that you won’t be able to succeed without any such tool. Even if you somehow manage to succeed on any platform, you would need tool for further expansion and then need to re-write the whole story from the very beginning. So take it as a caution or as an advise, but do consider opting in for a tool of your choice.
The questions are, how many tools do you need, and what sort of tool do you need?
Frankly speaking, you need tools that would help you manage the below tasks.
- Manage inventory details.
- Manage product listing details.
- Manage order details.
- Manage customer database & historical data.
- Manage messages.
- Manage Repricing.
The above tasks are very generic tasks to consider, and you may choose your choice of tool to help yourselves. However, I do have my favourite tool, and I will discuss it. You should consider having specific features to ease your life as you will be paying for the tool. There are various tools in the market and every tool support some features. Some tools don’t or can’t support some feature, but if you think that the task is very much needed within the tool to make your life easier, you should rather consider opting in for the relevant tool rather considering about your budget, because eventually the tool will pay off, or else you may just end up messing around with tool which may not workout as you may have desired.
There are many tools in the market that promise the moon and the earth but can’t even perform the basic jobs, so I highly advise you to go for the well-established version of tool. You can’t change your tool on a daily basis; hence buyer beware.
Now, I will discuss the tool that I use most and recommend this tool literally everyone who would just ask for a suggestion. Honestly, Linnworks is not paying me to promote their tool. They are already into the market for a very long period, but yes if you want me to setup the tool for you, I do charge a lump-sum value. If you ever plan to go with Linnworks and want to set up the tool for your needs, I highly recommend going through me to help you set up with complete flexibility and plan your current & future needs accordingly.
What is Linnworks?
They started as an order management software and have grown as a total commerce control solution on a single platform. They offer the best in the industry service. You must plan how you want to set up your inventory. You can integrate your system with your desired marketplaces. Once you have integrated with marketplaces, you should consider the shippers as per your shipping locations. Linnworks is very efficient, and I can help you through shipping integration as well.
You can plan how you would like to play around with your inventory and your orders. I can help you create rules as per your choice and how you would like to ship your orders out depending on the location, weight, dimensions and packaging format. You being in the UK, as a seller, should be aware that Royal Mail has many variations and which shipping couriers support your desired formats and what sort of pricing is a daunting task to finalise. So, I highly recommend being extra vigilante before you lose out on shipping and compliance policies.
While you plan the inventory details on your system, you should also consider what different types of pack-sizes you would need to generate on the system. You would also need to create the composition of these pack-sizes to relate to the specific parent items. We can discuss the concept of parent & child item later when I will guide you about the item’s deep specifics.
Which marketplace to get started with?
Once you have decided about the software you would choose for your inventory items, the next step is to input the details of the inventory item on the system. While you start inputting your data, you can also get started looking in the marketplace options. As I discussed earlier that Amazon & eBay are considered as best marketplaces to get started. However, they both have different policies and you got to comply with the policies of relevant marketplaces. You need to ask for permission for every other category which is not directly allowed to sell on Amazon via Ungating requests. While for eBay, they have few restrictions depending on the allowances in terms of the number of units and the total value of the goods.
Along with both the above marketplace, it is advisable also to consider one of the fastest-growing marketplaces in the UK i.e. OnBuy. I highly recommend getting on board and considering achieving the early mover advantage before the marketplace gets fully loaded with experienced and all aggressive sellers.
How to make a profit through your sales on market-places?
One of the most critical question for every other seller is to make a profit from marketplaces. Of course all the sellers want to make sales & profit from the marketplaces. But, it is one of the most bitter facts about the Amazon marketplace that, as you generate more & more sales, your margin of profit will go down; eventually, it will turn to be a business of volume. As your products are ranked higher on the marketplaces, more sellers will be looking to sell similar products and eventually be your competitors.
Although, there are other factors to consider, viz., Amazon FBA, Amazon Prime etc., that would help boost your sales. But every other option has its own negative aspect as well. We will discuss it later.
I have just spoken about the inventory management feature from Linnworks. However, Linnworks also supports order management, listing management, and shipping management to cover every aspect of your business regarding inventory, orders, & dispatch.
You should not ignore the option to have your website to sell your goods & services. Linnworks is also compatible with integrating your website to continue offering your goods on your website and relevant marketplaces.
Besides the above options on Linnworks, you should also consider thoroughly the tasks I discussed above and which hasn’t been considered so far discussed within the pursuit of Linnworks.
Repricer for Amazon marketplace and Messaging platform for customer service are other main options to consider before planning anything else. Because if you consider Linnworks as a backbone of the eCommerce business, then a proper Amazon Repricer and a smart Messaging platform should be regarded as as eyes & ears. You need all these options to position yourself as an intelligent seller and to achieve success.
Which Repricer to consider for Amazon products?
This is one of the most critical questions that every seller would go through. Every seller chooses their choice of Repricer depending on their budget and the pricing plans that these Repricers would have to offer. I highly recommend you check all the available options and check how deep would you like to consider the rules. There are many different types of rules when you want to consider your repricing strategy. If you want to sell as FBA seller, you should also consider this aspect as well.
There are Repricers in the market that offers various types of options, viz. competing against any specific seller, competing against Amazon (any specific venues), reprice as per your desired value, ignore any specific seller (any of your partners), reprice as per the percentage difference, reprice as per the buy box targeted values. You can consider Repricer Express, ChannelMax and many more, you can Google and find many other available options.
Amazon themselves also offer repricing service within the platform. Still, many sellers hesitate to use it in a full-fledged way because Amazon itself directly or indirectly is your competitor and relying upon them entirely for your sales & revenue is not good. You never know when your competitor come back and bite you. Many sellers try to avoid giving away their pricing & minimum pricing info to Amazon directly. You never know how Amazon will start using the data and try to undercut your pricing eventually.
Amazon also brands registry program where it allows big brands to launch their own store on the Amazon platform and allow them to sell their branded items. This way, Amazon helps emerging brands and offline brands establish their online presence on the platform and allow them to sell their goods directly to their customer and remove the middle-man from the transaction.
Way to consider about customer service?
Customer experience is one of the key metrics for almost every marketplace out there. Suppose they detect that your customers are not satisfied with the services you are offering in terms of your products. In that case, delivery speed, dispatch format, after-sales services, they will just start putting negative ratings on your metrics and the day when you reach to the peak of negativity, they might either restrict or ban you from selling and thereby generating any revenue on the platform.
Customer Service is one of the key metrics and very essential for your success on any online platform. If you don’t or can’t provide good customer service or if you won’t be able to satisfy your customers, you may end up receiving bad reviews and negative feedback from them. The customer is a king-maker when it comes to the online world. If you make your company’s first goal as customer-focused, you will establish yourself as one of the industry’s major players, and you will never be dissatisfied with the results you will achieve in the long-term.
There are tools to help you out where you can plan your approach to how to deal with your customer at every level of your transaction with them. You can choose your options. There are tools like eDesk, Replyco and many more where you can have your templates to save your time while communicating with your customers. You can also create auto-reply formats while you are not around to deal with all the messages coming into your system.
I have tried to cover most of the basic concepts and essential strategies to get started and achieve success in the long-term. Of course, this is just the beginning and can be considered just as a tip of the iceberg. However, I will be discussing deep features of all the relevant tools and can go through how these tools can help your eCommerce startup and lead yourself to create a well-established enterprise in the long run. However, if you have any concerns regarding this post and want further details about anything, please feel free and drop in the comments, and I would be more than happy to answer your concern.