Business

5 Lessons From Starting An Ecommerce During The Pandemic

10 min read

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5 Lessons From Starting An Ecommerce During The Pandemic
5 Lessons From Starting An Ecommerce During The Pandemic

Build a brand And online marketing is associated with great challenges. Find out how you can get from idea to project start in four months during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Like the vast majority of people, I started with a stable job in 2019, went to UDEM to give my entrepreneurship courses, and did research in my office. It seemed like a normal semester for COVID-19 to arrive in Mexico and shortly after we got a red light. Since March, my dining room has been converted into a classroom, office, and research center. Personally, I forced myself to be more productive by setting “entry” and “lunch” schedules, but after a few months I wondered what would happen if they had to downsize and I had no other source of income. I had to start generating extra income!

A few months later, I received money from a savings bank for the first time in my life, and brainstorming began to invest it. At that time, in June, I had to return to live in my mother’s house because of the pandemic. We ate and discussed the idea of ​​starting an online business to manage from home. However, the first questions arose: What do we sell? How do we sell it? Do we need to develop a website? How much does it cost us to invest? Is it easy to send? Etc.

In my case, I had already started a business twice, studied and specialized in entrepreneurship through to a PhD, but more importantly, two years earlier I worked in one of the most important e-commerce companies in Mexico doing research and developing products for Luuna -Mattresses. However, starting an e-commerce project was a challenge that required me to put all of my knowledge into practice. I knocked on a couple of doors, signed up for all of the free training AMVO offers, and checked out the class presentations I gave, such as business plan, product development and innovation, and startups.

Currently we have already launched our online brand for Mexican handicraft jewelry, KETZALIA. It has been a four month process from defining the general idea in early July to launching November 2020. Personally, I have decided to break the process down into five key aspects that I have learned and I hope they will help you create your own project help.

1. Choose a product with a good margin

If you don’t have a product that you can make yourself inexpensively, my first recommendation is that you don’t choose a product because it’s fashionable or you think it will sell well without knowing the approximate cost of the good. You always have to think that the retail price has to be consistent. If a customer finds your product on Amazon, Liverpool, Mercado Libre or in your own online store at the same time, they will see similar sales prices, unless a store has a seasonal discount. In addition, one has to think that one thing is the cost of production and another is the cost of selling, while one has to correlate marketing, operating and logistics costs. Have you already thought about what packaging you will send by parcel and whether you will invoice this shipment or whether it is free?

The customer experience is critical to generating online sales. You have to take care of every detail of the product, packaging, guarantee, deliveries, delivery times, payment methods, etc. As a product can provide the best experience at competitive prices, it will attract more customers. For example, even if we want to give shipments away as gifts, these have costs that the company has to bear and have a direct impact on the profit margin. For this reason, I recommend analyzing the economics of the product with approximate cost before choosing your idea. There are those who choose to import for a good margin without sacrificing the experience. We work with remote craftsmen via mail and WhatsApp on product developments that took more time but achieved the goal better.

2. Research your market

The normal thing about any business model is that you first identify which customer segments you will deliver for your value proposition. When you have that, make sure you understand the buying process for your type of products. It is especially important to know what brands they know, how to buy them, what promotions they run, where to advertise, etc. We found out from an online survey that there are many more unknown brands out there and that Customers perceive brands differently.

The research will help you determine the characteristics of the products, make prices, promotions, especially digital campaigns. In e-commerce, it is important to generate traffic to our product pages and carry out conversions. You will find hundreds of alternatives to manage your digital marketing campaigns, but don’t go for the one with the cheapest price, the one that knows how to do it well. Generally speaking, they’ll charge you the most effective results, i.e., revenue conversions that aren’t per release.

3. Invest in community building

Ideally, you are marketing one or more private label brands, although you may have a multi-branded business. In both cases you have a name and need a graphical identity. At this point, I would like to point out that not only is there a logo, but the various design elements that you can use to convey what you want to communicate are also known. In many online stores, you can see the graphic identity with the design of packaging, labels, social networks, photography, etc. So I asked about developing a branding manual, not developing a logo. I recommend it!

In many online stores, you can see the graphic identity with the design of packaging, labels, social networks, photography, etc. / Image: Depositphotos.com

Most of the most successful e-commerce companies are brands that have invested in their graphic identity and positioned themselves as a benchmark in their industry. The positioning you get when you create a community of people interested in tracking your updates and you need to create digital content. Not all digital content will be advertising-oriented, but will also communicate your philosophy and generate loyalty. I recommend investing in social media management that creates content and takes professional product photos.

4. Don’t waste time developing a platform

Perhaps our most difficult decision is whether we need to develop a web platform from scratch to sell online, or whether it is enough to upload the products to a marketplace. Nowadays a third alternative, platforms like Shopify, WooCommerce, Magento, etc. These platforms provide the infrastructure to set up online shops without programming and for monthly subscription costs. The investment between developing your own platform or using a subscription platform can be very time-consuming and costly. What I recommend is that these platforms be used for new business to get off to a quick start and with less investment.

An online customer will not check whether you used a third-party service to build your website, but rather whether it is visually attractive. We realized that a site that can receive payments and generate shipments is then a functional site for e-commerce. The above platforms meet both the integration of various alternatives of payment carousel and parcel logistics services. Therefore, it is more important for startups to invest in generating traffic to the site and in product development.

5. Be very patient!

The market research and idea planning process shouldn’t take more than a month. The problem lies in developing products with suppliers in front of an orange traffic light due to the pandemic, which is taking longer. If you are going to make or manufacture the products in any way, you need to ensure the quality, final design and prices with suppliers. With this in mind, you will experience a lot of uncertainty and longer delivery times.

Generating sales on the website takes time, it’s not immediate. You have to invest in generating traffic to the website and wait for the algorithms to optimize the campaigns until the publications are more effective to convert into sales with your customer segments. Typically, the first sales results are reflected weeks or months after a campaign has started.

After all, the entire legal part of doing business is essential and moving very slowly in Mexico. From registration with the Federal Taxpayers Registry (RFC) to the SAT and trademark registration in the IMPI, there are government procedures that do not work during normal working hours or for appointments in very distant periods. In our case, the incorporation of the trading company in front of a notary and the public land register took a total of three weeks, but it took almost two months before the RFC could be billed and a bank account opened. In the end we succeeded in starting and operating www.ketzalia.com.

Good luck with your e-commerce!

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