A huge number of the newly built e-commerce stores don’t ever get a single order.
Not even one order. During their entire existence.
Why is that? Is it so hard to build a web store? Is it no more enough just to put OSCommerce and load few products? No, it is not.
As creating online stores became easier and cheaper, a lot of amateurs started doing it and saturated the market with low quality, unfocused drop ship stores with high prices. This is the number one recipe for failure.
How can you avoid it? It’s not simple, but let’s start with few basic steps. First, invest a little money and effort in your web store – get a professional design, not a free template. Don’t use free open source shopping cart, they don’t look good. If you can’t afford to get a custom built web store for you, at least buy some quality pre-made software that will look elegant and will serve your needs.
Then find a niche. Spend the most on this step, because a web store without a niche is a loser. Choosing a bad niche is going to kill your business too. So, how to choose a niche for your e-commerce drop ship store? Here are the steps:
1. See what people are looking for. Don’t just build a store selling purple jackets before checking first if people are really looking for purple jackets. There are many options to research this – as a beginning you can use Keyword Tracker or the free Google AdWords tool to see if the keywords in your niche are searched. You need to see at least few thousand searches monthly to consider the niche large enough. On the other hand, if there are millions of searches for the keyword, it’s likely that there is too much competition.
If we continue with our purple jackets example, we’ll see there are 5,000 – 6,000 searches monthly which makes the niche good enough.
2. Check the competition. Search for the key phrase (with quotes) in a search engine – are you getting millions or just few thousands? Check the websites. Are they good, do they look serious, are they lacking important features, do they have too high prices or too little variety of products? Asking these questions will help you understand where are your strengths and how you can get your share of the market.
3. Check your product sources. If you don’t have specific product supplier and you are not manufacturing the goods yourself, you will need to find a supplier for your e-commerce store. So it’s time to research potential wholesale or drop ship suppliers, to check their prices, the quality of their products, their customer service, refund policies and whether they will be willing to work with you. Without good suppliers you cannot enter the market.
4. Test the niche. This is a bonus tip that you’ll barely see anywhere else, but it’s working very good and I always do it with my projects. Before investing in the web store, start a small blog and write few articles on the topic. Do some basic SEO and build few links so you can get some traffic. Then see if there are people who come and read the articles (use some traffic stats software for that). Try to even get them subscribe in a newsletter. Don’t worry, all this work will not be waste. Once you start your web store you will use the blog to drive interested users to it! You can also mail the ones that subscribed for the newsletter and let them know you opened the store. Of course this way of testing can cost you some efforts and time especially if you find out the niche isn’t good, but that’s much cheaper than building an expensive web store and getting no sales then!
When you choose the niche and do all the work above, think how your store can be different if not better than the competition. Try to be the king in your small niche and this will bring you sweet profits for years to come.