The advancing digital world of the 21st century is of paramount importance for the growing remote e-commerce businesses today. It is a major opportunity for growing home-based businesses with no strict working hours or limitations on market selling. For designing e-commerce stores, Golance serves as a leading platform providing web development teams to run your business efficiently.
Statista data indicates the e-commerce growth rate to be at least 20% per year. As of 2020, the global e-commerce retail sales amount to USD 4.28 trillion with an expected e-commerce revenue growth of USD 5.4 trillion by 2022.
The remote e-commerce stores are however different from the conventional stores. It completely lacks a physical storefront, with dematerialized structures and processes and added cost on transporting and delivering products.
To overcome such challenges, e-commerce business creators are empowered by globalized tools and services with limited investment.
Guide to build a remote e-commerce business
When setting up an e-commerce business remotely, some aspects are of utmost importance, namely:
- An excellent website design
- Top-grade customer assistance
- Finest quality product image
- Eccentric selling proposition
Alongside, a combination of certain factors determines the future of an e-commerce website. Here is a checklist of the steps necessary for building a strong remote e-commerce business.
1. Originating a business plan
Generating a business plan primarily depends on how it is defined. It can either be a simple or a complex plan. When commencing a remote e-commerce business, some of them may require detailed preparations compared to many others. Entrepreneurs tend to face higher competitiveness and require more investments if they are taking the easy route.
Quoting the words of Reid Hoffman, Co-founder of LinkedIn,
“If you're not embarrassed by the first version of your product, you’ve launched too late.”
A business plan can pop right up at odd hours or may come across as a lifelong project. Entrepreneurs must keep brainstorming while reading magazines and thoroughly searching the Internet to come up with a profitable plan. Based on the input from research and relevant feedback, keep evolving and improving the idea.
Put simply, a great business plan gives birth to a long-term profitable business. Prior market research before building the plan has a better chance of evolving into something more feasible.
2. Carrying out market research and subsequent preparations
Research serves as an integral part of setting up an e-commerce business remotely. The first step is to carry out relevant and extensive market research and feasibility studies. Coming up with a viable plan can be easy for some and strenuous for others.
Either way, upon finding the business plan of choice, it is important to test it out and refine the plan along the way. The intent is to define the market size and characteristics of the chosen products. Check the market for the chosen products and their future business role. Know the product life cycle and the risks or time constraints attached to the chosen product.
Look into the competitors’ projects. Keep in mind some factors when carrying out a competitor analysis.
- Their business models.
- Whether single or multiple products are being sold.
- Utilized social media channels.
- Their target market.
- Methods used for pushing their sales.
Today the internet is booming with market data and information. The entrepreneur may carry out online market research surveys or interview the experts online to check for further regulatory requirements necessary for the chosen products to comply with.
When exploring the product market through online surveys, the entrepreneur may try reaching out to future clients. It is a creative phase that makes most emerging entrepreneurs be highly optimistic while looking for the right opportunity. When carrying out the surveys, make sure to be critical enough and identify risks associated with the business idea.
3. Generating a business plan
An effective business plan serves as the quantitative dimension of an e-commerce business. It provides an overview of the values to focus on while avoiding the pitfalls, to set up a successful remote e-commerce store
There could be several forms and depths to creating the perfect business plan. Listed below are some of the suggestions for generating a profitable plan.
- Begin by establishing a hypothesis for the business plan. An entrepreneur who invests himself or herself more in the business hypothesis has a higher chance of evolving it better
- An entrepreneur’s business plan resembles a living document. It keeps evolving with the knowledge and experiences gained by the entrepreneur over the course of time. This document can be revisited time and again to improvise continuously using the creative wand.
- The base of any business plan is all about using the commonly measured KPIs for their sales. An experienced entrepreneur would make use of the KPIs like gross profit, average conversion rate, cost of goods sold, customer acquisition rate, or customer retention.
4. Registering the e-commerce business
A business needs to be registered at some point after the business plan is decided upon. A remote business must carry the cost engaged in creating the business. Likewise it costs enough capital to set and run a business.
Before registering the business, it is crucial to check the different business types based on the country and state of the business location. When defining the name of the ecommerce business, try to give a unique touch with an affirmative tone to it for attracting more website traffic.
Most of the successful entrepreneurs are usually kind-hearted. For advice and recommendations in the ecommerce industry, never run away from seeking help from other entrepreneurs.
When setting up the remote ecommerce business, make sure to keep the cost of setting up as low as possible. This is because the starting point guarantees no income or success of any sort. It is wise to stick to low service offerings at costs as low as possible.
Similarly, be cautious of the first time sales. It can take longer than expected. Be strategic by keeping the running costs minimum.
5. Designing the business identity
As a part of the product idea, branding and logo ideas also flow in automatically. This step aims to build those components into the assets of the e-commerce business.
Entrepreneurs may keep the designing cost low by appointing designers from online websites like Fiverr, 99designs or Upwork. At the same time, the effort and time required to explain the concepts and ideas would be comparatively less through face-to-face idea exchanges.
To create an identity for the brand, entrepreneurs may have to go through the complete process of brand positioning. It refers to the methods implemented to make a brand noticeable in the open e-commerce market while instilling it in the minds of potential customers.
For more insight into strategies necessary for building a strong brand, head onto the branding decisions.
Steps to be taken to create a business identity:
- To commence with, it may be enough to just work around the business name and create a logo corresponding to it with the help of a designer.
- The next step would be to define the leading brand characteristics like font type and colors chosen to define it.
- Finally, register a domain name for the brand.
- After setting up the brand’s domain name, make use of the most relevant social media platforms to reach out the word to the mass. The e-commerce store doesn’t need to be extremely active at all times. Booking the space from the beginning can attract more targets in due time.
Besides investing in branding and logos, the entrepreneurs must make equal investments in trademark registration. Keeping a legal trademark for the brand is extremely crucial to survive in the competitive industry.
6. Developing and sourcing products
Branding and product development goes side by side. Some products may require more steps for the product development process compared to others. The aim at the end of the process is to have finished products ready for outsourcing.
Some of the common factors of product development include exhaustive feasibility research, product designing and creating its prototype. In case the product turns out to be excellent, try to make use of an innovative approach to launch it.
It may perhaps be a good choice to fill up for a patent for the product. Try using the following tips for all-around product development.
- Crowdfunding: Upon creating the first repetition of the product, the entrepreneur may take it out into the real-life e-commerce market situation. It can be done through remote crowdfunding campaigns. Yes, it is a bit challenging and stressful, but it’s worth giving a chance that you may not regret later on.
- Outsourcing: For outsourcing the products, a viable option for the e-commerce business plan would be dropshipping. It is a popular model amongst most entrepreneurs due to its low upfront investment cost. It is also a low-risk alternative to the traditional plans that require suppliers and manual inventory stocking.
This is how the dropship model works for remote e-commerce business plans.
- A customer places a specific order and pays a retail price of say USD 200.
- The e-commerce store keeps USD 50 and forwards the order to the supplier and pays the wholesale amount of USD 150.
- The supplier runs for shipping the final product directly to the customer.
Since external providers are used here, make sure to seek help from specialists by paying a decent price to them for their service. The entrepreneur must establish a contract that is necessary for protecting intellectual property.
7. Manufacturing and packaging the products
With a physical product and its prototype in hand, an entrepreneur is ready to begin the manufacturing process. There are two options available for manufacturing the products.
- An entrepreneur can carry out the whole production process. This is however a capital-intensive and time-consuming process.
- The other option is outsourcing either parts of the product or the entire production. To this, packaging could be considered as an extension of the manufacturing procedure.
Depending on the e-commerce market and the type of products being manufactured, certain regulatory requirements may be necessary. These are essentially certain government-certified stamps or certificates that the manufactured products need to pass through to be sold remotely.
At times, certain market types and products require additional labeling to specify the ingredients included in the product.
8. Activating the e-commerce store online
Up till now, the aforementioned steps include every necessary aspect for building the remote e-commerce business online. With the competitive research results in hand, the entrepreneur can choose an ecommerce business hosting platform of choice to begin building up the store.
The entrepreneur can begin by adding products to the e-commerce website, designing the website interface and connecting flexible payment solutions. Afterward, start entering the stock information. The online store builders can guide beginner entrepreneurs towards standard operating procedures.
For a remote e-commerce business, the e-commerce website acts as the main website. After setting up the website on the chosen platform, the entrepreneur can try upgrading the functionality of the e-commerce website.
An entrepreneur can spread e-commerce store awareness through partnerships with well-known marketing channels. Some marketing giants include Facebook, Instagram, Amazon, SEO and affiliate marketing. If the marketing channels are known to the entrepreneur, he or she must immediately look at their compatibility with their owned e-commerce business.
9. Customer assistance, storage, fulfillment, and logistics
After the physical production, storage becomes an integral yet challenging part. The entrepreneur may have to simulate the complete supply chain and learn about the inventory turnover for defining the capacity of the storage needs. Keep the number of steps in the supply chain as little as possible. The simplicity of the setup will prevent unnecessary errors from occurring.
This stage requires attention to certain customer service options. The customer service must be able to control fulfillment, make necessary delivery changes and inform the customers on time.
After finding the manufacturing location, the storage location and provider come next. Find effective solutions to carry the product forward from the storage to the customers. Try to set up necessary information gathering points, allowing customer service to control each step of the process.
Storage is a commonly available component that can be quite expensive at times. In ideal situations, the storage must be within the proximity of the target or manufacturing market.
Certain products are manufactured and shipped on demand. Entrepreneurs don’t need to worry about storing such products. They can simply move forward to the challenge of fulfilling the transportation, shipping and delivery of the finished products to the ultimate buyers.
E-commerce CRM to step up the customer retention game
In the online world, besides top-rated products, customer retention is of utmost importance. The fast pacing online customer lifecycle makes it crucial to take care of customer relationship management or CRM.
A good e-commerce CRM has the following benefits for a remote e-commerce business.
- Discovers and coax target buyers.
- Offer relevant information about customers to develop loyalty programs.
- Lowers customer management costs.
- Provides a better understanding of the customers’ buying habits.
Listed below are some of the reasons for choosing a free CRM.
Access to customer history
Analysis of customer history with the data stored in CRM helps to understand what products to launch next. Likewise, it allows entrepreneurs to identify the target customers for launching a product.
Personalizing marketing strategy
Customers are observed to stay loyal to brands and stores that tailor-make messages based on their needs and expectations. Recommending products to customers through emails based on their purchases and wishlist garbs more attention.
For developing a marketing strategy, a customer’s demographic location, price range, choices, and like are required. CRM securely stores all that data helping entrepreneurs to personalize their marketing strategies.
Systematic team management.
CRM helps to differentiate customers based on various criteria. How a customer behaves is directly related to the way a business allocates its internal sources. With the help of e-commerce CRM, smartly allocate prime account managers into different customer categories.
CRM helps to save time, allowing entrepreneurs to access data about existing and potential customers with a single click. Automatically it leads to increased productivity that converts to higher investment turnovers and sales.
10. Marketing and sales
Having the manufacturing and supply chain in order, the final step is to launch the product and commence the marketing of the e-commerce activity. Selling the product at the end is by far the most challenging product.
Begin by defining the marketing and sales channels. Try to build as much visibility as possible through soft launch, in the absence of any advertising. The launching of business campaigns can help the entrepreneur to find profitable marketing and sales channels.
Through trial and error, every entrepreneur learns the marketing approach that is suitable for their e-commerce business. Collect relevant data and learn from every initiative and campaign that is carried out. Even if the investment doesn’t pay off in time, the entrepreneur can gain experience from it and do better in future campaigns.
Even today, email marketing stands out as an effective marketing channel for remote e-commerce businesses. This works best if the e-commerce business has a certain number of subscribers in its email list.
Contribution of remote teams to running an e-commerce business
Although remote e-commerce business is a highly automated process, certain background activities are necessary for running the operations smoothly. The remote teams cover the administrative tasks that serve as an integral part of the whole e-commerce process. Listed below are some of the ways in which having a remote team can benefit an online e-commerce business
- Being flexible: The e-commerce industry is a cyclic process with booming sales during holidays. This may leave the business with a shortage of staff to manage the business efficiently.
- Remote teams can offer immediate sales support, increasing the workforce while handling the sales boost. Likewise, it also helps the business to reduce the number of staff in slower times.
- Cost-effective: The remote can assist the customers while carrying out necessary administrative tasks. This solution proves to be very cost-effective over paying higher salaries to individual employees to complete the same tasks.
- Time-friendly: With the help of remote teams, the overflowing work can be handled with ease, sparing some time for the regular employees during busy times.
- Minimizes office space: No extra scaling is necessary when hiring remote teams. The entrepreneur can simply add more labor force without any added expense or in-office employees.
- Maximizes productivity: The remote teams do not need to commute to the office, saving up time to work more over time. Different technological tools are available for the employees to measure the success of the business with the help of a remote team.
An e-commerce business entrepreneur’s journey is more of a marathon rather than a sprint. Realistically speaking, a remote e-commerce business may require 18 months to almost 2 years to show any significant changes in profit.
With the help of the aforementioned guide, any entrepreneur is capable of setting up a successful e-commerce business remotely. It serves as the beginning of a new business adventure, running with potential access to thousands of customers.