Rushing into an eCommerce business is not a good idea. Whenever I meet with clients, especially new clients, I have 10 questions I always ask them.
These questions help me understand what your business is about, who your customer is, why you want to start your business and what you will be selling.
Without knowing these things, most entrepreneurs find it hard to build a solid foundation for their online business. They also find it very difficult to figure out who they need to be selling to, and where these customers are.
So here they are, my Top 10 questions to ask yourself (and tell your digital marketing and eCommerce strategist) before starting your eCommerce store.
10 Questions to ask yourself before starting an eCommerce store in South Africa
Question 1: What am I selling?
Decide on your product. Whatever you put on your store has to firstly sole a need or fulfill a desire, and secondly, make sense in the entirety of your store. Unless the products are related in some way, don’t sell them on the same site. Different product categories have different audiences, and when a customer expects to see A, but see B, they leave and you have lost a customer.
Decide what you want to sell, and stick with it. Make your show site about it. Customise your marketing, messaging, design, even your sound around it and own it!
Question 2: Who am I selling to?
This is a big one. Who will be the person that will buy your product. This is also know as your ideal client. If you know who this person is, you can figure out how to market to them. Give them a name, give them hobbies. Imagine what they like to wear, eat, drink, to for relaxation. What stresses them out, and what are their biggest pain points? What makes them happy?
If you have that, you can shape your messaging around them, and really bring the story of your product to life for them.
Question 3: What is my cost price?
Important one – know what your product cost price is. This helps you forecast, plan sales, or even special days. It can also help you plan your budget ahead of time. When you start selling more, you can even barter for better pricing on cost of goods.
Question 4: What is my selling price?
Too little, and you risk making a loss, too much and people won’t buy from you. Your selling price has to take into account how many sales you aim to make, if you need to cover shipping, your expenses need to be covered by each sale… and you still need to make a profit.
Under-pricing yourself is great for your customer, but bad news for you.
Question 5: How much will I use each month for marketing?
I believe in the 20/80 principle. 20% of your revenue needs to go to marketing each month. Yep, sounds like a lot, but that 20% helps you grow your business as you go. 20% strategic spend now, can make you 50% more profit… if it is well planned.
Question 6: How will I deliver to my customers?
This is a big decision. You need to find the courier or delivery solution that is right for your business, and is competitive in your market segment. Keep packaging in mind, as well as the difference in price between delivery locations.
If possible, build in free delivery (with a disclaimer) to your pricing. Even it is is a fraction more expensive to your competitors, it is something that you can use as a key marketing and sales driver.
Question 7: Who are my competitors?
If you do not know who your competitors are, you cannot keep an eye on them to see what they are doing, and how you need to adjust your strategies (marketing/sales/communications/promotions) to keep a leverage with your audience.
Follow them on social media, and watch their content. But don’t get obsessed. Get better 🙂
Question 8: What sets me apart from my competitors?
Do you know how few entrepreneurs and business owners can answer this question? Really think about it – what makes your product or service better than your competitors? Sometimes it can be the simple things like proper customer service that swings a purchasing decision from a competitor to you. Perhaps it is your packaging that is so hot, every one of your customers shares it on social media.
Know what makes you stand out, and play on it.
Question 9: Where will I be selling?
Will you be selling on an eCommerce store? Only on Facebook marketplace, instagram, or perhaps a brick and mortar store and an eCommerce site?
Each one of those requires different touch points, and varying degrees of management. Understanding where you will be selling infers how you will be selling, and also gives tone to all your marketing, sales and promotional tactics.
Question 10: What is my goal?
Do you know what your goal is? If you do not have one, you have nothing to work towards. Goals have to be smart – Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-Bound.
Setting too large a goal can leave one feeling like you are not good enough, like you are a failure, and often times leave you giving up before you have actually started.
Set attainable goals. If you have never sold anything in your life, don’t expect to instantly make millions – it is possible, but that’s the exception. Start selling one item. Then sell two. Take those lessons and then sell ten. And from there you start scaling little bit, by little bit.
Which question did you find the hardest to answer? Tell me in the comments below 🙂