More than 2 billion online shoppers worldwide are waiting for a new customer experience. You couldn’t ask for a better time to launch an innovative ecommerce startup.
Before someone else beats you to the punch, you need to act quick.
In this article, you’ll discover valuable tips to define your startup’s vision, raise funds, and build a loyal customer base.
Let’s begin with what started it all—your big idea.
What to Do with Your Vision
No amount of capital can make up for a lack of vision. It’s a defining factor for every successful ecommerce company.
Ecommerce giants like Amazon, Netflix, Groupon, and Google continue to dominate the space by building upon their original vision.
Amazon, which started as a simple marketplace for used books, routinely sacrificed profit to expand into multiple markets. As a result, Amazon now dominates over 44% of the entire e-commerce market.
Vision isn’t just about innovation. It’s critical for strategic business planning. That’s why many ecommerce businesses write vision statements.
Vision alone doesn’t necessarily translate into success, however. Here are several tips for defining, implementing, and maintaining vision according to Fast Company:
- Be clear in your vision
- Don’t make it too complicated
- Sell its value
- Set goals to achieve it
- Stick to a consistent vision
Notice these traits in some of your favorite ecommerce brands?
Fast Company uses Disney as an example of a company with a strong, consistent, yet simple vision.
Disney has maintained the same vision from the start, to “make people happy.” By not committing to just one consumer market to achieve this, they could expand into spaces beyond film and TV, including e-commerce.
Likewise, Amazon’s similar approach to vision has allowed it to crossover into film and TV, even racking up awards along the way.
Generating Funds for Your ECommerce Startup
If you want to go national, or even global, with your startup, you need capital—period.
A clear and compelling vision generates interest, which attracts funding. You have the vision, now you just need the right funding model to bring it to the masses.
Here are a few models to consider:
Thanks to such fellow ecommerce visionaries as Kickstarter and Indie Gogo, you can fund your startup from scratch with crowdfunding. This allows anyone, not just wealthy investors, to fund a project they believe in.
Before launching your crowdfunding campaign, research successful Kickstarter campaigns in your niche. Pebble Time and Purple mattresses are two success stories that come to mind.
This approach relies heavily on social media to spark interest. You’ll need a compelling content strategy that inspires social media users to engage and share across all platforms.
The Purple Mattress Company, for example, had a wildly successful video campaign on YouTube which crossed over onto Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
Angel investors are people with considerable wealth who fund projects in exchange for equity. They also have more attractive payback terms than venture capitalist investors.
A wealthy family member, for example, could be considered an angel investor.
Rather than investing in the long-term viability of an ecommerce startup, angel investors place more value on the entrepreneur themselves.
Growth is a big motivator for angel investors, so they often fund businesses early in the development stage.
Aside from exploring existing networks, including family, you can promote your startup to angel investors looking to connect with new projects.
Try these actionable tips for attracting angel investors, according to Entrepreneur:
- Many gravitate toward local startups
- Credentials are a major plus
- Your startup pitch is a big deal
- They want to be involved
- They want to see solid business plans
- Get honest about the numbers
These types of investors usually give within the 6-figure range. If you want to raise a million or more from individual investors, venture capitalists may be more your lane.
Venture capitalist investors take a less personal approach. Rather than investing in the potential of an entrepreneur, they invest in projected growth.
Like angel investors, venture capitalists also fund startups early on. They’re also willing to invest in high-risk ecommerce companies if the potential for profit is there.
Remember, big risks lead to big rewards when done right!
Here are a few ecommerce companies funded by venture capitalists. Any of these startups ring a bell?
- Blue Apron
The right investor at the right time can launch your startup into the stratosphere. Ask yourself how you can prove the profit potential of your vision to investors.
Customer service is more than just picking up the phone. Once your startup is out of the development phase, immediately pivot to a customer-focused strategy.
The process of getting your product in the hands of the consumer is called the supply chain. Supply chain management has become a cornerstone of customer service, thanks, in part, to ecommerce.
Consumers expect immediacy, convenience, quality, and an attractive price at the click of a button. One surefire way to disrupt this well-oiled machine is inventory mistakes.
There’s nothing more infuriating for a customer than to purchase an item that’s out of stock, unbeknownst to them. That’s why it’s critical to learn more about your inventory options, from drop shipping to physical warehousing.
Ecommerce has also destroyed the concept of ‘hours of operation’, opening the door to 24/7 customer service.
This has driven more startups to incorporate chatbots, or real-life chat agents, to assist customers around-the-clock, regardless of time zone.
Mobile-friendly websites, attractive refund policies, and fast support are more ways to avoid the wrath of your customers online.
From Startup to Established
Your next step is to go from ecommerce startup to household name.
Keep learning from the greats like Amazon, Alibaba, and eBay to cultivate your vision, funding model, and customer service strategy!
One thing you should never do is quit. Don’t stop learning, growing, and building your vision. Stop by often to discover more tips and tricks for building timeless brands.