Every other day I get a mail from some newly launched website asking me to check out their website to buy stuff ( Flipkart.com style) or asking us to enlist our products on their websites (Ebay.com style). Now there is no denying that all these websites are going to struggle a lot if they have nothing new to offer in addition to what the already established ones are already providing. Competing on the price front is the most common method used by most of these companies to get that initial push but that can come only at a substantial cost and Indian buyers with very little online loyalty will shift over to others the moment such offers vanish. Hence establishing a long term brand and business proposition is no easy task. Setting up a website with lots of items on sale is the easiest part.
Online reputation for E-Com websites is the hardest to build and easiest to lose. Having on online shop or venture is akin to having a physical shop with glass front window where in any customer can come and write whatever they wish to with no powers for owners to rub the same off. This makes the going even tougher for the newbie. However I am not against entrepreneurs who wish to try out their luck in this field. Unless one tries how someone can come to know whether he will succeed or not. So here are a few nuggets of ideas and information which I have learnt and still learning from my own endeavours initial ones of which were on other platforms such as ebay.com and the latest ones on my own E-Com Website.
a) Keep Costs Down: Every penny saved will help you and your business survive that one extra day when the chips are down and the business guzzles the cash.
b) Start Small: It makes sense to start small and gauge the market. Yes the flip side is that potential buyers may not take you seriously but that is better than you starting with a big bang and people still not taking you seriously. In the latter you will survive for much lesser period.
c) Make Website Easy to Understand & Navigate: Most people get put off if the website looks unprofessional. Imagine you going to an Electronics Shop and finding garbage lying scattered or items strewn around. In all likelihood you will not buy anything and return never to come back again. Same can happen to your website if it looks shabby or difficult to use.
d) Service: Give good service. That alone will ensure the buyer will come back again. Conversely if he has bad experience you can forget about him. A happy buyer will tell ten more about it. An unhappy buyer will tell 100! So it makes more sense to have lesser buyers whom you can look after than trying to sell too many and then not provide after sales.
e) Shipping: One of the most neglected but crucial to your survival aspect, this alone can make or break your business. In the world of E-Com where the margins are razor thin. An item lost in courier can wipe away your profits for days or worse weeks. Delays in shipping too can kill your business.
Supply Chain Management: Again one of the most difficult parts of the business. Tying up supplies with wholesalers and distributors is no cakewalk. Stock out is a regular feature and stocking up all items on display can be very difficult in the beginning and sudden drop in prices can wipe out your business. So one needs to tread in this area with lots of attention and care.
Hi All, I am Sanchita. I love entrepreneurship and love to read and hear about the successes and failures in the field. I love writing about it out of my own experiences and learnings. Read more about my other write-ups on the subject here