How do I launch an e-commerce startup?

Jigo

It’s very tempting to think that launching an e-commerce startup is a straightforward process – after all, how difficult is it to throw a store online and then sit back and await those eager shoppers?

Sadly, all too many e-commerce startups have quickly come a cropper due to a misunderstanding of the very real challenges involved – from picking the right market to ensuring that people actually turn up on the site and you can handle the logistical side of things.

E-commerce stores are no easy get-rich-quick schemes and need to be done right to breed success – so you should carefully consider the following factors when launching yours.

Find the most distinct niche

We’ve all had an idea for an e-commerce store that we thought would be a sure-fire winner, without realising the huge numbers of other people already doing it.

Let’s imagine that you decide to start a store selling tablet cases. It makes sense – iPads, Kindles and the like are a massive deal these days. But it’s a hugely saturated and competitive market, meaning that if you take the above broad approach, it’s extremely difficult to stand out from the pack.

What if, instead, you launch a site specifically providing cases for a popular tablet that’s still two months away from release? By the time the tablet does go on sale, you can have a well-sorted online store that is near the front of the queue in the search engine rankings.

Don’t underestimate¬†the importance of SEO

Any e-commerce startup needs to start attracting sales quickly and tends to depend heavily on search engines to draw in traffic and income. However, it’s vital to do SEO right, rather than practice unethical techniques that could lead to the banishment of your site down the search engine rankings.

Quality should be your watchword when it comes to SEO, but the most effective methods are also pretty simple. They include writing relevant and useful blog posts that attract clicks and social media shares. You can also get high-quality links by writing guest posts for other, relevant sites, in addition to using industry forums to build contacts and gain links from your posts and profile.

The above methods aren’t just gimmicky ones that will cease to work when Google next updates its algorithm. They will help to give you the best search engine rankings for a long time to come.

Think long and hard about your platform

One of the things that make launching an e-commerce startup such a great idea these days is the multitude of ways you can do so. There’s no need to have a bottomless bank account and an extensive team of your own developers these days – you can ‘plug in and play’, relatively speaking.

However, some platforms will always make more sense than others in the light of what you want to achieve with your store. Research the options thoroughly, carefully considering price, security, ease of use and flexibility. It also helps to have a good range of themes and extensions to choose from with your given platform. This allows you to customise your store at low cost and with relative ease.

All of the above aren’t the only factors behind the successful launch of an e-commerce startup, but paying heed to them will certainly go some way to minimising the hitches that you experience. Good luck!

This post is from the team at Jigshop, an expert WordPress e-commerce plugin business.