Photo by Burst from Pexels
Until recently, digital transformation was seen as something modern, but not something critical to business. However, in the context of the new conditions and proven trends in advanced markets, it is becoming crystal clear that the consumer shopping path is increasingly fragmented and customers in almost all sectors of economic life demand and expect to be able to shop anywhere, anytime.
When talking about e-Commerce, to be able to choose the right online solution is as important as choosing the right niche for your product. Generally speaking, there are three main online solutions that you can use in order to sell your products or services:
- Own e-Commerce platform
- Marketplaces such as Ebay, Alibaba, Etsy, etc.
- Social networks such as Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, etc.
You should not limit your choice to just one option. In the real market environment, you can combine the online solutions as you like in order to create the most favorable environment for your business to grow. Simply explained in other words, your online store can be fully synchronized with the Facebook page you support - in this way, Facebook users will see the same products in both places and will order from the online tool that is more convinient for them. This results in a scheme through which you can sell from several channels, but manage the business in one place, thanks to synchronizations.
Photo by Breakingpic from Pexels
Now, that the most important part of setting up an e-Commerce business - to find the perfect niche for your product or service is already done and you have identified your niche market, you should have clearer vision on how you want to develop your idea. The next step in the development of your e-Commerce business is to choose the online solution that you are going to use to sell your products or services, e.g. whether you will decide to go for own online shopping platform, or take advantage of the already existing marketplaces or social networks.
To do so, you will have to go through several steps which will help you define the online solution that is the most suitable for you and your business idea.
You will be able to find detailed instructions on how to choose the right online solution in the next "Process" section.
In order to be able to execute your task properly, the first thing that you will need to do is to go through the "Resources" section and have a look at the additional readings and videos that will help you familiarize with the main types of platforms used in e-Commerce.
Now, think again about your idea and the products or services you want to sell. Probably you've already imagined the way in which you want your online shop to look. If not, below you can find some common options that are easy to start with and will be perfect for a start-up entrepreneurs:
- Own e-Commerce platform: Try to search on the wide web for the most popular e-Commerce platforms. Take a closer look in at least 3 of them. Do you see yourself using some of them? Also, do not forget to look at the pricing and the features of each platform. Will you be able to pay for it? Does it contains all the features that will be necessary to start your e-Commerce shop? If the answer of these questions is "yes", you can go for it. Create a prototype and ask your friends and relatives for feedback. Remember that the most important thing is to listen and satisfy the needs of your customers.
- Marketplaces: If you do not have the budget or the human resources for the creation of own e-Commerce platform, you can always choose a marketplace such as eBay, Alibaba, Etsy, etc. Choose the most suitable for your and make a registration (if you do not have already). Explore the characteristics of the chosen platform, customize your profile and settings. Once you are ready, create an offer and see how it goes.
- Social networks: Similar to the marketplaces, social networks such as Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest also offer infinite options for e-Commerce and are free of charge. If you think that this will be the perfect online solution for you, start by creating a dedicated profile or a page. Customise it, make it appealing, invite your friends and family to join. Publish an offer and collect feedback, so you can build upon it.
Today, there are at least 100 different ways which you can use to sell online. Before you choose the online solutions that is the most suitable for you, you will have to decide on a couple of things. Firstly, you need to define your budget, because let's be honest - good things (in this case, platforms) cost a lot of money and you need to know your limits from the beginning. Secondly, you have to know exactly what functions you need in order to satisfy the needs of your customers. And thirdly, you have to be always open for a feedback provided by clients, friends or family - this will make your online shop even better!
And before you finally launch your online store, there is only one step left - to get acquainted with the legal aspects of e-Commerce, so you can work in accordance with the European and national law.
You will be able to find more information regarding the legal framework of e-Commerce in the next point of this scenario.
- 1.5 I can experiment with my skills and competences in situations that are new to me.
- 1.8) I can identify the basic functions that a prototype should have to illustrate the value of my idea.
- 2.10) I can experiment with different combinations of resources to turn my ideas into action.
- 3.6) I can develop a business model for my idea.
- 3.11) I can tell the difference between acceptable and unacceptable risks.
- 3.12) I can critically evaluate the risks associated with an idea that creates value, taking into account a variety of factors.