eCommerce is often portrayed as a glamorous and hands-free (digital) occupation while the backroom (plumbing) is often overlooked at the envisioning (startup) stage by the entrepreneur.
A great deal of emphasis (and rightly so) is often on the website and digital marketing, which needs to be integrated into backroom. However consideration needs to be given to the over-arching structure to find the right balance to ensure business growth. So you how do you find a business model that suits?
Real attention needs to be paid to your business model and the core value proposition you offer customers. A crucial element, in my perception, is the question of how you get paid? There are case studies where this aspect has been overlooked by experienced exporters, some of whom have failed to take export insurance and paid the price. Essential also is how you then maintain the cash-flow in the business. Best way forward would then be to have a strategy alongside the business model.
This would be my first stop because this will focus you on building customer relationships and engagement. So understand which of the following sectors you should start with. This guidepost blog will serve to use Channels to explain the niche that should be explored.
This is the predominant focus of most eCommerce business and is best served by the (third-party) Marketplace channel which is dominated (in Europe/USA) by Amazon and EBay.
The core advantage here is that they give the business the ability to outsource operational and logistics elements. Equally they have a well-established digital platform with eCommerce platforms that are robust and scalable (say Cloud!). There is also the option of the single Market – trading using your site only as platform but this is inefficient and costly for a new entrant, since it will involve establishing a brand , advertising costs and pipelines’. For great expert help on this, visit http://www.tamebay.com
Companies with a manufacturing or production base would be well served by the Alibaba platform which is a China conglomerate that is actually bigger than Amazon. They are very good with provision of outsourcing to China.
Actually served better by Export Clubs since International Trade dwells on trust and reputation and visits on trade missions would be necessary at the growth stages through better collaboration.
Key elements alongside are the following;
Payment Issues: VAT & Delivery issues, Pricing mechanisms, Foreign exchange fluctuation, Overseas Government regulations
Build Partnerships: Support from UKTI, Open To Export, Ensure you get on the right Trade Shows
Market Research: Get local media on-ground, Use local(overseas) channels, Use multilingual staff in residence country
Intellectual Property: Issues of Trademark, Domain Name, in foreign countries can be difficult to protect.
Backbone is Logistics: Use reliable procurement and courier companies. Be wary of issue of returns. Understand your contractual obligations, Ensure fulfilment works and how to use (free) Delivery terms
Moving forward does not need to be a Big Bang approach so don’t feel overwhelmed with this ‘short list’ but do take the small steps to build and grow your eCommerce business. Hasta la Vista!
A Stepwise Approach to building an eCommerce Platform
A STEPWISE APPROACH TO BUILDING AN ECOMMERCE PLATFORM
Setting up and management of an eCommerce platform can be a full time occupation which hinders you from running your business. However, even the attempt to actually outsource and manage this platform can equally be cost prohibitive. The best approach then would be to take a project-centric approach which should start with a business case.
1. Start with the end in mind
If you are the sole business owner, without a team, you will incur man-hours, which cannot be billed to the customer and, can also impact the quality time spent running your business. It would be essential to understand the basis on which you work out a budget. What outcomes do you want?
2. Take bite-sized chunks
The techie phrase here would be “lean startup” methodology. This refers to setting out the “minimum viable product” (MVP) which could easily be drawn out on a paper napkin, so you are constrained from going over scope! Use a feedback loop and, from your business case, measure your outcomes against projections.
3. Can you afford to Pivot?
This is an approach used by start-ups, which may not be favourable if you are running a going concern. This advocates that you change direction or make reiterations to arrive at your end goal. This can result in missing time deadlines, cost overruns and an inferior product. This can be avoided by having in place a robust “Customer Development” process.
4. Step forward
A lot of emphasis is put on finding the “right” web developer and what is often missed is the step process that takes the user requirements to identify the right eCommerce platform. “Coding’s easy, deciding what to build isn’t”
Enterprise Nation recently held an event, with a speaker panel, on “how to find a web developer”;
A] Use University software graduates through moderated online portal. This helps businesses to source digital talent more affordably. Useful for first iterations and producing a basic MVP.
B] Use an Independent Developer. Core requirement is building up a good relationship (dating) to ensure the assignment is professionally fulfilling. Essential to have a deadline and disclose your budget upfront.
C] Use a Recruitment Agency. It’s very important to have a good job specification, follow the recruitment process and communicate diligently. Equally good to have negotiation skills.
D] Use a Digital creative agency. Best applicable where the need for branding and strategy with product design, is imperative. Preferable where you are at high-end of the market or with specific niche.
6. Stand and Deliver
As a small business owner, an eCommerce platform can be a cost-effective and efficient channel to deliver your products. It’s important that this integrates with your branding and social media channels.
An exciting Opportunity
Digital technology opens up new opportunities for business owners by providing access to new markets, networks, business training and financial services. By advancing opportunities for entrepreneurs via digital platforms, we bring the benefits of digital technology to entrepreneurs in order to accelerate the growth of their businesses. We are very excited about our ongoing projects below, because this is a launch in a new direction – building business models in the digital economy.
Digital Application Programme (DAP)
The programme works with application developers to implement projects that use digital technology to support Business and Entrepreneurs. Current projects in our pipeline can be classified into two (2) categories:
Using mobile phones to access financial services for people in developing countries.
Developing mobile applications for Corporate & Lifestyle Coaches.
►Using mobile phones to access financial services.: This project was formed in response to reports that revealed millions of people in developing countries are missing out on the mobile technology revolution and the socio-economic benefits.
►Developing mobile applications for Corporate & Lifestyle Coaches: This project started based on Ade's experience and training as a Lifestyle Coach. Increasingly the Coaching process is done in a virtual manneR, i.e. telephone, Skype, email and the next factor will be by mobile phone apps.
There are quite a few good 'productivity' apps on the iPhone and Android but our model, in development,will be tailored and interactive between Coach and Client. We are currently conducting feedback and market research in order to start a trial run soon.
adescoy works with Directors/Business owners to grow the business and improve profit margin.
The purpose is to identify the bottlenecks in the business and then refresh your business model, based on a digital platform, by putting in place a business strategy.
We put significant effort into empathising with our clients cultural and business needs, while developing a collaborative working style. To deliver lasting benefits we work alongside client teams, transferring skills and embedding change.
We can provide specialist digital support below:
Pre-Sales ICT Services
Ade provides support on ICT audits and vendor selection solutions to business on work organisation and productivity for better operations with remote/mobile staff. [Microsoft Sales Accreditation]
►Sales Specialist for Office365
►Pre-Sales Technical Specialist (Devices and Deployment)