We will assume that you ventured into your online business after doing some serious research.
Manufacturers, suppliers, dropshipping opportunities – you must have thought it all through.
Blogs are bookmarked, forums are checked constantly for you might have missed an important piece of advice while brainstorming new batch of products.
But there is one question popping up constantly – how to ensure that orders will start coming once everything goes live?
In our effort to help you avoid common pitfalls, we assembled this guide that will hopefully give you ideas where to start and how to ensure that once your online store is launched, you don’t spend forever waiting on that magical first order.
Being overwhelmed and unprepared will cause concerns and a rocky beggining no store owner looks forward to.
What is even worse, you will fail to sell – falling into desperation eventually.
And we believe that all you need to do is follow these five simple, yet effective steps, to ensure that the small snowball you have now, starts creating an evalanche of success once you start selling online.
1. Discover your skill
Do you get lost among subreddits? Do you still struggle trying to figure out how Snapchat works? Your images are nowhere near the ones that Nike is posting on Instagram?
But, dispersing your energy all over the place will hardly bring positive results.
It will probably look bad, and even though you read dozens of blog posts and probably adopt successfully different advices, one fact remains unchanged: you are the one that needs to do it.
And if you don’t know how to – it will look bad. Pinterest fail bad.
So make sure you are honest about your capabilities, capacities, time you have on your hands and resources you have at your disposal in general.
You might have to come up with several workarounds once you start the process, but in order to avoid spending time on something that will produce poor results and make your business look unprofessional, define what are your strengths and your weaknesses in the beginning.
Pro tip: It is always good to run a little SWOT analysis of your own.
You will realize that brainstorming, naming, and writing down your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and defining potential threats that your business might face in future, will give you a clear idea where is it that you are actually headed.
Realizing that you have limited amount of time on your hands will make you bring data driven decisions and make you become realistic when it comes to pursuing or completely giving up on certain distributors, manufacturers or promotion channels.
Swot analysis will make you identify which ones of your personal wishes and aspirations are likely to be irrelevant for your business, and accept that they are the ones that need to be ignored right away.
Planning is everything!
2. Choose your tools
When it comes to educating yourself on how to actually scale your business, you will probably rely on words of wisdom coming from experienced marketers and bloggers.
And they all offer rows and rows of inspiration, but also abundance of tools, advices and recommendations piled up and ready to confuse you in the very beginning.
Rigid tone in which they are written and signs of urgency all over these posts, are probably making you confused and ready to give up. Or – motivating you to try it all out.
Both of which are completely wrong.
Small and medium online stores are their owner’s bread and butter. And scattering energy, finances and not getting relevant results in return, is what will definitely become a big barrier for a one man team to handle.
Acknowledging that people behind articles advising you to do everything from posting to Reddit to writing blogs, creating infographics, optin forms, visuals, actually have teams handling images, teams handling social media and teams of designers, is what will make you realistic.
Allowing your visitors/customers to see that outdated content, or your social shares show small numbers, will fail to install trust in your customers.
Everything has to be up to date, fresh and relevant. And in order to do so – you have to be organized.
Pro tip: Start small. You do not want your entire day to go by while you figuring out how to make Trello or Jira work – to do list will cut it for now.
When it comes to products – make a plan when will they be launched, how is it that you will handle post office, packaging, labeling? When will you update content on your blog? Will you schedule posts in advance?
Loads of work indeed – so we suggest you stick to one blog post per week, keep your Instagram feed fresh and take it from there.
The most important thing is to form a routine around your activities and connect with your audience.
With time, you will have automated processes that will leave loads of spare time on your hands.
This is when you start introducing other social media channels, email marketing and other means that can help you promote your product, generate orders and grow sales.
But in the beginning, being organized and reaching out to limited, but audience truly caring about your product is what will get the orders to start coming.
3. Start publishing
Instagram can definitely be your most valuable asset and discovering how to use it properly is what will most certainly bring orders to your online store.
The bad thing is – being mediocre simply won’t cut it.
Now the question is – will you prosper more if you blend in or if you offer something completely innovative and jaw dropping?
Visual storytelling can be as demanding as writing thousands of words, but if you are looking to become an overnight success story, you might as well forget it.
Instagram can offer a lot, but if your only intention is to sell more – you will fail.
Naturally, audience across different social media channels is diverse.
One thing they have in common though – they want to be entertained and relaxed, not pitched.
If you are all about sales, if you push your luck with giveaways, contests, guest posts or link exchange, your audience will quickly get fed up.
This is where visual storytelling comes in and saves the day.
So – not only you have to create great and quality images, you have to have a story. And it has to be a story worth following.
Great success story comes from Hannah Maggs.
Proud owner of Maggs London, she started her online career as a blogger, grown to be a super vlogger followed by thousands of people anxiously waiting to see what she posts next.
Aw, and buy her new amazing makeup bag.
The truth is, it is easier once you are well established in your niche. That doesn’t mean that you cannot become equally successful by starting from scratch.
You simply have to invest your time smart.
Hanna’s strategy was heads on great.
Once established as a great vlogger, acknowledged by millions of people waiting for Sunday’s new vlog, she decided to start online store. You might think it is easier to do it the other way around, but think again.
Indeed, she did have great advantage in the beginning when compared to someone starting from scratch, but she did risk it all. If she didn’t manage to communicate her message clearly enough, her vlog audience would probably start shrinking and her online store would turn into a massive failure.
It is just to confirm that you cannot have successful business without a great product.
You never wish to deceive your audience.
Earning their respect was hard in the first place, and attaching another business to it, turned out to be a risk worth taking.
How many sold out tags do you see on the screenshot above?
Very well done indeed!
How often have you witnessed such transformations? The world of eCommerce is full of them. Every once in a while you find out that an influencer or a blogger is starting their own online store.
Often with great success.
Here is Chiarra Ferragni and piece of her online store that shows how things should be done if you wish to ensure success for your business.
Chiarra’s blog grew to be one of the most famous in fashion world and it was, of course, followed by her own line of products presented on her online store.
Pro tip: Grow your audience first, make your feed visually appealing and promise your followers a visual story worth following.
Your followers wish to identify with you, trust you and be inspired. Once you create a relationship, it will be easier to present your products and ensure first hundred orders coming from your devoted fans.
4. Team up with an influencer
Teaming up with an influencer is one thing that can most definitely help you generate first one hundred orders. Easier said than done, we know.
But it is extremely important as pairing with influencer that already ensured great reputation among your target audience is what will ensure you kick off promoting your online store in a way that will most certainly generate sales in the very beggining.
Do not be scared to show off your collaboration, or even better friendship by interacting with your influencer via social media.
It will help you create buzz around your name that will most certainly stick with people by the time your online store is launched.
Pro tip: Recent blog post published on Google’s official Webmaster blog suggested that they started manually penalizing bloggers/influencers in case they added links to products/online stores they received and reviewed.
Products or financial retribution – it doesn’t matter, as they announced that these websites will not be kindly treated.
They advised bloggers and/or influencers to make sure they add nofollow tag to links they possibly added when reviewing certain products sent to them.
Google advise you to:
“Bloggers should use the nofollow tag on all such links because these links didn’t come about organically (i.e., the links wouldn’t exist if the company hadn’t offered to provide a free good or service in exchange for a link). Companies, or the marketing firms they’re working with, can do their part by reminding bloggers to use nofollow on these links.”
Storm of negative comments certainly brought influencers to center of everybody’s attention once more.
It is up to time to tell whether this decisions coming from Google will have deeper repercussions influencing the way store owners collaborate with bloggers, or new ways of collaboration will emerge eventually.
5. Enable pre orders on your online store
Enabling pre orders on your online store is the best poll you can come up with. The poll that will most certainly give you great feedback.
Your buyers will let you know whether they are interested at all into what you have to offer, and let you know how did the entire experience of shopping on your online store went.
They will let you know whether they experienced difficulties when purchasing, their enquiries will possibly give you an insight into what might be a bestseller and make you brainstorm your next move when it comes to new products.
Latest success story that blew us away came from Glowforge that ensured amazing start of their story by selling printers worth astonishing $1 million in pre-orders directly on their own site. Mind blowing!
Protip: make sure you announce that you are now ready to accept orders. If you took our advice, you already have quite big Instagram audience.
Announce that you will offer coupon codes and special offers for early adopters.
Everyone loves to feel special, and people rarely say no to great incentives and offers. Exploit the fact that you have base of followers and ensure you have orders packed up even before your store is launched.
Do you have any pro tips you would love to share? What was your go to method that helped you ensure you will start receiving orders once your online store is launched?
We hope our advice helped at least some of you skeptic novices out there.
Have in mind though that these steps need to be executed successfully before you start selling. Think months, or even a year before you launch your online store.
That is the only way to ensure first hundred orders on your online shop once it goes live.