Life After Crowdfunding – Starting Your Online Store

Kickstarter campaign, and even quicker than you expected you met your fundraising goal—congrats! But now what?

Starting an Online Store

Most companies coming out of successful Kickstarter campaigns know that the logical next step in their progression is to start an ecommerce store to begin selling the product they’ve worked so hard to fund. Starting an online store is actually easier than you probably think it is; getting sales is where things can be a bit more difficult. When you’re ready to rev up your ecommerce engine, it all starts with creating your store’s website. And you don’t need to be a computer genius or pay someone who is to create a customized site for you. There are numerous ecommerce platforms out there, like Shopify, BigCommerce, Volusion, and Magento, that help make the process of designing and maintaining your online store easy and affordable. You can also set up shop using WordPress. As you’re setting up your site, keep these things in mind:
  • Be unique with your product descriptions. Don’t write product descriptions that just describe your product. Write product descriptions that engage, persuade and sell.
  • Take your own high-quality product images. People remember 20% of what they read and 80% of what they see. This alone proves that great visuals are super important to ecommerce success. Since customers can’t physically see and touch your product, the next best thing is to give them clear, high-quality product images. Especially when selling apparel, use multiple photos at different angles, on and off a model, for each product so customers can really imagine wearing your products.
  • Have a user-friendly website. Usability is just as important as the look of your site. Consumers need to be able to easily find what they’re looking for, quickly comprehend what’s on each page, not wait longer than a few seconds for your site to load and be able to access your site from their mobile devices. A usable site turns consumers into customers.
You’ll also need to select a good payment system. PayPal is the go-to choice for many global online retailers, but it’s not the only online payment solution.

Domain Name Selection

Optimize your brand with a custom domain name. It’s what customers will remember and refer to your brand by, so choose one that’s creative, short and simple to spell and pronounce. A few tools to help with selecting a domain name are Domainr, Name Mesh or Lean Domain Search. As for where to register and host your domain name, check out NameCheap, Hostwinds or GoDaddy (they are more than just a controversial commercials-producing company).

Product Fulfillment

If you’re coming from a Kickstarter campaign, you’re likely not ready to own your own warehouse of products. A headache and hassles of fulfillment and shipping your products, especially if sales add up quickly, is more than you want to handle and more than many other startups want to as well, which is why most outsource product fulfillment. You need to focus on what you do best, be it designing or marketing your product, and let a fulfillment service take care of your product orders from start to finish. Red Stag Fulfillment, Amware Logistics, 3Linx, and Amazon are all ecommerce fulfillment services online retailers should look into.

Brand Awareness

Once your online store is up and running, it’s time to spread the word. It’s time to grow, nurture and convert your customer base to create brand advocates. Start building brand awareness by leaning on your Kickstarter campaign backers to spread the word about your brand and product. Give them a special offer, like a free product to test, so they can share their personal, real-life views and experience about your product and customer service. You can even ask them to give a testimonial to add to your site. Enlist the help of your family, friends, and neighbors to get the word out as well. Besides leveraging people you know, the best way to build brand awareness today is through social media and content marketing. Create Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram and YouTube business accounts if you haven’t already, and consistently update each site a couple of times a day to drive more traffic to your online store. Post pictures of products (a great product marketing tactic), daily deals, seasonal promotions, link to content you’ve written or share relatable industry content and news to get on consumers’ radars. Make use of hashtags and then reshare photos customers post wearing your product and using your hashtags through your social platforms. And don’t forget to create a blog for your website. You want traffic to your website and you want to build your audience—blogging does both. Good blogging is a way to get noticed, a place to share your brand’s story, an opportunity to build trust with customers and a chance to rank higher in the search engines.

Customer Acquisition

Like I mentioned earlier, starting your business is the easy part—getting customers and making sales is where more effort is needed. But obviously, it’s not impossible to do. We’re all consumers. We all have wants and needs. As a retail business owner, you just have to know what traction channels to use to acquire customers and grow your sales. I already mentioned the importance of content marketing and using a blog to help transform your brand and business, but here are some other ones to take advantage of:
  • Publicity—Create good working relationships with local reporters and get your brand name out there through various news outlets, i.e. TV, radio, newspapers, etc.
  • Unconventional PR—Customer appreciation is your go-to here. Hold contests or send personalized messages to customers that can produce press coverage and increase feelings of generosity.
  • Social and display ads—You see them when you’re browsing online and I bet they’ve enticed you to buy a product a time or two. Put your own out there to boost your sales.
  • Email marketing—This is more than sending an email to someone who abandoned their shopping cart. Email marketing is used for that and sending promotions and coupons, but it’s more so about building and nurturing relationships with potential and existing customers.
  • Trade shows—Just because you’re an online business doesn’t mean all your customer acquisition efforts have to be online. Trade shows are perfect for retailers. They create the chance to show off your products in person, to build interest in your brand in the beginning and then later on to create valuable partnerships.
Life after crowdfunding won’t be easy, but it’s well worth some more time, tears and choice words to start and run a successful ecommerce store. Good luck!]]>

Greg is the founder and CEO of Stryde and a seasoned digital marketer who has worked with thousands of businesses, large and small, to generate more revenue via online marketing strategy and execution. Greg has written hundreds of blog posts as well as spoken at many events about online marketing strategy. You can follow Greg on Twitter and connect with him on LinkedIn.

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