eCommerce during Quarantine & Lockdown
Coronavirus and subsequent quarantine and lockdowns in various countries have positively impacted the eCommerce industry. More people are locked down in their homes than ever. Irrespective of the lockdowns, people still need products and services– essentials, non-essentials, luxury products, digital products, courses and what not.
With not much to do, people are resorting to online mediums for entertainment as well as shopping.
The current scenario is ripe enough to start your own eCommerce store as the market is brimming with demand. If you’re planning to dive in the entrepreneurial pool, there can’t be a better time than this. One effective approach is learning how to create a niche marketplace and focusing on a specific target audience.
The best strategy to launch your eCommerce business is to act now and improve later. Adopting an agile methodology and continuous iteration can do wonders to grab the eCommerce growth opportunity in the current times.
Launching an eCommerce Store in 5 Days
Building a sustainable business, irrespective of the industry, is a monumental task.
Failing to plan is planning to fail, it is said. And if you are planning to launch your own eCommerce business, you need to have a concrete plan.
If you want to launch your own store, here is the exact blueprint of what you should do to get your store running in just 5 days
Developing a Business Plan
Before moving ahead with your idea, it is important to create a concrete business plan. It is assumed that you have already considered the below:
- Strengths and weaknesses of your business idea (SWOT analysis) Identify lucrative business opportunities
- Analyze the market and competition
- Finalize the product supply and distribution chain
- Plan sustenance and growth strategies
- Calculate and document the financial goals
- Build a credible business model
- Discover innovative marketing and promotion tactics
It is important to have a comprehensive business plan and give thought to several points as mentioned above. Your business plan must ideally include:
- Once you document the business plan, don’t forget about your business name
- Brainstorm and be creative – customers will remember what they relate to.
Finding, Installing & Configuring the Platform (CMS)
This is where the real work begins. The first step is to finalize on the platform to build your eCommerce store.
The convenience, versatility and efficiency of the platform makes it a right fit for a budding eCommerce entrepreneur. One can install Magento free version within hours and top it up with additional modules/plugins to customize the platform for a specific country/region.
Magento doesn’t offer thousands of themes to choose from but there are thousands of responsive templates across the net (check out some nice themes here)
After choosing the theme you should install and configure your store on the production hosting directly, and protect it for the time being with a password. One can install Magento free version within hours and top it up with additional modules/plugins to customize the platform for a specific country/region.
With more than 250,000 merchantsMagento ranks 2nd most popular eCommerce software and hence is one of the most popular eCommerce platforms in the world.
Finalizing Brand Indentity & UI/UX
Once your eCommerce store starts coming in shape, it is time to think of the appearance and user interface. Take some time to review competitors, try out different themes on your Magento platform and tweak to give an engaging experience but don’t dwell on it. You might want to consider the Magento Hyva theme as an option for your store.
Remember, your goal is to roll out and deploy fast and iterate later. Try out variations of layouts, fonts, pictures, text layouts, etc. based on your basic business idea, but do it fast.
Once you have a decent idea of what you want, write down the exact fonts, pictures, layouts and visual appeal you want from your store. You can also think of getting a logo and brand guidelines at this stage which would further define your brand identity.
Share your insights and brief with a brand identity designer- specifically your expectations with visual aspects and let him work the magic to come up with an aesthetic user interface and identity for your eCommerce business.
eCommerce Platform Development & Cataloguing
Once your brand design is finalized, you should think of sending the finalized layouts to a developer. The developer will perform required tweaks to the final theme and ensure that the brand identity is reflected across your eCommerce store.
When the developer finishes with the technical aspects, you should think of cataloguing your product/services. This can be done in either of the three ways:
Data import from a file: Magento supports importing data attributes such as product name, description, pictures, SEO, URLs, etc. from a single file. You will have to prepare a CSV file for data import and upload it on the platform.
Ready-made APIs: You can also create products on the platform in real time by defining all the attributes and making it live on your platform.
Paid Modules: Download a paid module on Magento and connect it to your internal CRM systems or digital catalogues
Enlist and catalogue at least 50 products on the platform in a day. Don’t just rush for adding the entire inventory.
Configuration of Operational Specifics
Now you have a functional platform with a decent list of products. Your focus now should shift on configuring individual modules on Magento to make your website operational.
This necessarily means configuring specific modules related to taxes, delivery methods, payment gateways, and some other specifics.
Your goal on this day should be to:
- Defining applicable taxes and configure your internal module for payments and tax calculation
- Adding shipping methods
- Configuring gateway for payment modes
- Defining business rules, setting referral systems and defining commissions
- Creating and configuring email and other dashboards for central monitoring of operations
Testing, Training / Onboarding, Finalizing & Launch
By the sixth day, almost everything should be in its place. This is the time when you should test everything one last time, train your team (if you have any, or check yourself) and make final changes before the actual launch.
It goes without saying that you need to actively promote your store even during this development period. Marketing is what get you sales.
If you are a perfectionist you will not be happy with what you see (but hey, non of us would be – it is a 6 day dropdead launch after all) but go ahead and just remove that password from domain and let the world see your eCommerce store.