The division between last year and this year may essentially be arbitrary, but we grant it meaning by how we treat it. We make resolutions, most notably, drawing lines in the sand to put the past behind us and grant ourselves clean slates. Most recently, we celebrated the end of a brutally tough year and looked ahead to better things — but what might 2021 hold?
For many people (remarkably many), one of the key answers to that question is ecommerce: more specifically entering the ecommerce world as a seller. Online retail is one of the few industries to endure the COVID-19 era with aplomb, and it’s something you can easily manage from home (vital in this time of remote working).
In this post, we’re going to look at some key skills and tips for budding ecommerce entrepreneurs, setting out advice for how they can get ahead in 2021. Let’s begin!
Skills you should focus on developing
- Handling an ecommerce CMS. You don’t need to be a programmer to create a decent website at this point, because there are easy-to-use website builders (Shopify, WooCommerce, Magento, etc.) that can do it for you quickly and cheaply — but you do need to know how to use whichever platform you choose. Adding products, updating your homepage copy, setting shipping options: there are various tasks you’ll need to perform on a regular basis.
- Maintaining your concentration. Humans need contrast, which means not working too much or too little. You can’t spend all your time working on your website, but you also don’t want to let your focus slip during your free time, because it can be hard to get back. Ideally, you should find tasks that are enjoyable but keep you sharp. Solitaire is engaging (game makers Arkadium have some free versions). YouTube is packed with retail tutorials. Crosswords will hone your focus.
- Researching product niches. You can’t typically rely on the same set of products on an indefinite basis. Consumer preferences change quickly, particularly during these times, and you don’t want to be left with an inventory full of items that won’t sell. Learning about new niches you can target is certainly a skill: it requires poring through social media threads, reviewing search data, and checking out countless PR releases.
- Building an interesting brand. Simply having great products and low prices won’t be enough to set you apart, because there are just so many decent sellers out there. You need a notable and memorable brand — and it’s tough to build such a thing. Figuring out what can be unique about your value proposition should be a top priority. Learn from a hyper-compelling brand like Apple to see what you can do.
Tips for making decent progress
- Make your customers happy. There may be billions of people in the world, but that doesn’t mean that you can rely solely (or even largely) on new customers. Instead, you should look to earn customer loyalty, impressing your customers so they keep coming back and deliver reliable revenue. This means doing more than just fulfilling their orders to a satisfactory standard. You need to impress them.
- Use dropshipping early on. Dropshipping is an ecommerce staple that allows you to list and sell items that you never actually stock. When you receive an order, you pass it to the supplier for fulfilment, and profit from the margin you add on top of their charge. It doesn’t make a lot of money, obviously, but it’s easy, low-maintenance, and perfect for testing out new products without needing to actually stock them.
- Pursue clear and achievable goals. Every business needs goals, but setting goals that are too ambitious will only lead to disappointment. Set out a modest goal that you can actually achieve, then come up with a new goal once you’ve reached it. Keep doing this and you’ll incrementally make meaningful progress before one day noticing just how far you’ve come (one step at a time).
Succeeding in ecommerce has never been easy, and it certainly won’t be easy this year, but that doesn’t mean you can’t reach your targets. You just need to work on your skills and take sensible measures. Use the advice we’ve set out here to get ahead. Good luck!