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E-Commerce Basics: When Should You Create an Online Store?

If you’re a small business that wants additional revenue streams without large overhead (who doesn’t want that?), then it’s time to consider building your own e-commerce store.

In this post, I’ll share three examples of small businesses that created an e-commerce store: an attorney, a blogger, and a security company. In each example, you’ll get ideas on what to sell and how to generate additional income streams.

But first, let’s look at a few e-commerce basics.

What is E-Commerce?

E-commerce, or electronic commerce, is the buying and selling of goods and services online. In 2022, global e-commerce sales reached $5.5 trillion, and they are expected to continue to grow in the coming years.

There are many different types of e-commerce businesses. Some businesses sell physical goods, such as clothing, electronics, and home furnishings. Other businesses sell digital products, such as e-books, software, and music. Still, other businesses sell services online, such as travel, financial services, and education.

When Should a Small Business Create an Online Store?

Some businesses start out as e-commerce platforms, others evolve this division to tap wider audiences and increase revenue. Here’s when to know you’re ready for e-commerce.

You’re Ready for e-commerce when your objective is…

  • Reach a wider audience. An online store allows a small business to reach customers all over the world, not just those in their local area.
  • Increase sales. E-commerce sales are growing rapidly, so creating an online store can be a great way for a small business to increase sales.
  • Improve customer service. An online store can make it easier for customers to shop for products and services, and it can also provide them with more information about the products and services they are interested in.
  • Reduce costs. In some cases, an online store can be less expensive to operate than a traditional brick-and-mortar store.

Challenges of an E-Commerce Platform

Now that the benefits are laid out, there are also some challenges to consider before creating an e-commerce store:

It takes time and effort to create and manage an e-commerce store. This includes things like developing a website, processing payments, and shipping products.

There is a lot of competition in the e-commerce space. Your marketing strategy is critical here, and partnering with an expert in small business growth is essential. It is important to differentiate your business from the competition and to market your online store effectively.

Fraud is a risk in e-commerce. It is important to take steps to protect your business from fraud, such as using a secure payment processor and verifying customer information.

Overall, whether or not to create an e-commerce store is a decision that should be made on a case-by-case basis.

>> Reach out, and I’ll be glad to answer any questions you have.

Three Examples of E-Commerce

Now to the e-commerce examples. A licensed professional, a local security company, and 3 different bloggers.

Attorney Using E-Commerce Platform

A lawyer who specializes in intellectual property law could use an online e-commerce store to sell templates for common legal documents, such as trademarks, copyrights, and non-disclosure agreements. The lawyer could also sell access to a library of legal research materials or offer online consultations to customers.

Another example is a lawyer who specializes in estate planning. They could use an online ecommerce store to sell books and e-books about estate planning, as well as templates for wills, trusts, and other estate planning documents. They could also offer online consultations to customers about their estate planning needs.

In both of these examples, the legal expert is using their expertise to create and sell products that are valuable to their target audience. Creating a strong brand identity and using PPC ads are important in these examples. They are also using the online e-commerce store to reach a wider audience and make their products more accessible to potential customers.

Lessons Learned – Unlikely Ecommerce Store

E-commerce offers a unique opportunity for lawyers to expand their reach, share their expertise, and generate additional income. By leveraging online platforms, we helped one law firm create and sell valuable products and services to a wider audience.

  • The Opportunity: An intellectual property lawyer could use an online store to sell templates for common legal documents, like trademarks, copyrights, and NDAs.
  • Product Ideas: Templates for legal documents, access to legal research materials, online consultations.
  • Marketing Strategy: Pay-per-click (PPC) advertising, content marketing focusing on intellectual property issues, and partnerships with other professionals (e.g., accountants, business consultants).

Local Security Company Extending Its Market

Another example of e-commerce is a local security company using an online store to branch out beyond its local market. This small business has carved a solid niche doing local installations and security services. But now, they’re ready to grow additional revenue streams. They will need a well-designed website that’s optimized for ecommerce.

The answer is to sell security equipment and accessories online. This could include everything from home security systems and CCTV cameras to personal alarms and GPS trackers.

The company could also sell online courses on security topics or webinars, such as how to install and use security equipment, how to create a home security plan, and how to stay safe in different situations. As the e-commerce store grows, website organization is crucial.

Another way for a local security company to use e-commerce to branch out is to offer online consultations to customers. This could be a good option for customers who live outside of the company’s local service area or who simply prefer to get advice remotely.

Blogger is Ready to Generate Revenue

Let’s look at three examples of bloggers. This could also include anyone with an engaged social media following. In each of the following examples advertising and social media marketing are going to be essential parts of the overall strategy.

A blogger who writes about fashion could use e-commerce to sell their own line of clothing and accessories. The blogger could also sell merchandise related to their blog, such as t-shirts, mugs, and tote bags.

A mom who has 30k Instagram followers with solid engagement. She’s been posting about the realities of life in her 30s, coping with her changing identity as a full-time mom, and dreams of starting a business. Now, she can use an online store to sell Amazon products, digital downloads, and mugs.

Another example is a YouTuber/blogger who writes about food. They could use e-commerce to sell their own cookbooks or recipe e-books. They could also sell kitchen products or ingredients that they use in their recipes.

In each of these examples, the blogger/influencer is using their existing audience to promote and sell their products. They are also using e-commerce to reach a wider audience and make their products more accessible to potential customers.

Lessons Learned – Clothing and Accessory Shop

A recent blogger client of Mafost Marketing launched a e-commerce story on WordPress. We used WooCommerce and Mailchimp as the CRM.

  • The Opportunity: A fashion blogger with a loyal following could use e-commerce to sell their own line of clothing and accessories.
  • Product Ideas: Clothing, accessories, jewelry, beauty products.
  • Marketing Strategy: Leverage social media marketing, influencer collaborations, and email marketing to reach target audience.

The key lesson in this case was her current audience wasn’t ready to buy. We found a greater return on ad spend (ROAS) by targeting engaged shoppers on Meta Business Suite. Advanced targeting strategies ensured traffic costs were kept to less than $0.20 per click.

Knowing When To Launch Ecommerce

E-commerce offers a fantastic opportunity for bloggers and influencers to monetize their audience and build a sustainable business. However, the timing of your launch is crucial for success. Here are some key factors to consider.

Engaged Audience

Before launching an e-commerce store, it’s essential to have a solid foundation of engaged followers. This means having an audience that actively interacts with your content, trusts your recommendations, and is interested in the products or services you offer.

Clear Niche and Product-Market Fit

Determining a distinct niche is crucial, and your offerings should align with the preferences of your potential customers. Investigate your industry, comprehend the characteristics of your perfect customer, and recognize their requirements and wishes. This knowledge will assist you in developing a range of products that appeal to your customers and boost revenue.

Clarity on Marketing Strategy

Launching an e-commerce store requires a well-defined marketing strategy. This includes identifying the right marketing channels to reach your target audience, creating engaging content, and building a strong brand identity. Utilize social media marketing, email marketing, influencer collaborations, and content marketing to promote your store and drive traffic.

The Biggest Bottleneck for Small Business E-Commerce

Be ready to spend.

Liquidity is the primary constraint for small online retail businesses. Establishing and operating a prosperous online store demands substantial time and resources. Be ready to allocate funds for website creation, product procurement, stock control, promotion, and client support.

How To Get Started

If you’re interested in exploring the options, opportunities, and challenges of e-commerce for your specific business needs, I encourage you to contact me today for a free email consultation.

I have a proven track record of helping small businesses to succeed online.

Free Email Consultation

I can help you to create a custom e-commerce solution that is tailored to your specific needs and goals.

Hi, I’m Matt. 

Tell me what you’re trying to achieve, shoot me some questions, or just drop a comment. I’m happy to help.

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