To run a successful Ecommerce business, you must be willing and able to wear many hats. This is not a small undertaking -- at least if you intend to be successful. In a mature company, each business solution listed below could be a department unto itself. If you cannot afford to delegate responsibility for any of these key areas, you will just have to do it all yourself, at least until you can afford to hire someone to help you.
Some people, (like yours truly) thrive on this kind of challenge!
- Be a direct marketer. Don't just sit there and expect people to find you. Go after repeat business and use your website to sell, rather than to simply take orders. Run creative promotions for every occasion and season. Make creative use of social media, even if you don't use it in your personal life. Develop relationships with your customers, and provide outstanding customer service and support so you can earn their trust.
- Be a publisher. Create quality content and keep it fresh. Leverage existing content and repurpose old promos for the Web. (That old radio spot would make a great mp3.) Develop and protect your brand. Syndicate your catalog as a data feed, and send it to the shopping aggregators. And don't forget the power of a good old-fashioned, press release. Let industry publications know what you're doing.
- Be an analyst. Use Google Analytics to analyze traffic, click-throughs, and conversion rates. Test your site to see what works best. Review your Search Engine Optimization (SEO) performance. Monitor your participation in marketing programs. Set goals and determine your return on investment (ROI).
- Be a geek. Keep up with trends and developments in the online retail industry-particularly where mobile communications and social media overlap. Subscribe to industry journals and online discussion groups, and keep an eye on the competition. Don't be the first to adopt new technology, but don't ever be the last.
- Be an administrator. Understand that your online store is a 24/7 operation and cannot take care of itself. Allocate full-time resource(s) to manage the site, even if that means you. Make sure you have backup procedures in place for both the site and the database.
- "Sell" the company. As soon as you can afford to hire someone else to manage the store, you should focus your attention on selling the company. (Not literally selling the company, but promoting the company, as in, getting its name out there. A good place to start is to send out a press release to announce the launch of the store. Don't think you have to wait until everything is perfect, because it never will be! Just run with it.
Now for an extra tip, and perhaps the most important one of all: