After just a few years, the trend of eCommerce has rapidly evolved from an exciting business experiment for mega-corporations into a necessity for businesses of all sizes. According to one study, 70% of Americans shop online at least once a month, and consumers have come to expect that their favorite brands can be easily accessible online, 24/7. Online shopping is undoubtedly here to stay, so businesses that don’t make the digital leap are at serious risk of becoming obsolete.
Why eCommerce is Essential for Small Businesses
Convenience is the #1 driving factor behind the majority of eCommerce sales. Instead of having to go to a brick-and-mortar store, customers can access products at any time of day, read reviews, compare products, and purchase items without ever having to leave the comfort of their home. In addition, many consumers do online research before deciding which company to buy from; potential customers won’t even know about your business and products if they aren’t listed online!
By investing in an eCommerce platform, all types of businesses can easily gain visibility and increase awareness of their brand without any expensive marketing campaigns or advertising methods. Business leaders can also review customer feedback, quickly respond to any complaints or negative reviews, and keep up with the ever-changing demands of consumers in real time. With all the opportunities eCommerce has in store, entrepreneurs can rapidly transform their startup into a thriving online business: even without a physical storefront.
Profitable eCommerce Business Ideas to Consider
Of course, every entrepreneur needs a business idea to work with, and you may be concerned that your business plan may not be viable in the long run. It can seem like a daunting task to get started since thousands of businesses can get overshadowed in the highly competitive world of eCommerce. Aspiring business leaders have to find their specific niche or a business plan that can appeal to customers while offering something new or different than other companies.
Finding your market niche can be a time-consuming process, so we narrowed down some of the best eCommerce stores that all show promising growth rates for 2019. Try to envision ways you could put your own distinctive spin on one of these trending business ideas:
- Subscription boxes. Subscription boxes are immensely popular among people of all ages, and this specific industry is growing by about 200% annually. You can choose nearly any market niche and create a successful subscription box service! Customers love getting packages each month, and businesses benefit from the predictable purchases that occur regularly from their loyal clients. Some potential ideas for a subscription box could include a fashion rental service, grocery delivery, essential hygiene products, or a selection of makeup products each month.
- Apparel. Although the market is flooded with clothing stores, it remains a rather lucrative business when you offer the latest trends or sell differentiated products that no other store can offer. For example, styles like “athleisure” are doing especially well, or you could sell clothing for specific demographics, such as medical professionals or businesswomen.
- Fitness products. Health-conscious individuals are always on the lookout for affordable sports nutrition options, workout gear, and gym accessories. You could easily narrow down this wide market to find a profitable niche. For example, you could offer athletes vegan protein products and health foods, or you could sell high-quality nutritional supplements. If you’re a health nut yourself, you could even create a blog to offer tips and advice to your customers!
- Beauty products. Carve out a niche in the competitive market of makeup and skin care products by selling specific items like all-natural and cruelty-free makeup, face soap and makeup for men, or customizable makeup kits. You could further specialize your store by stocking up items such as false eyelashes, face masks, bath bombs, and natural hair care products.
- Weight loss help. The weight loss industry is an evergreen market, and the constantly changing diet trends and detoxifying products can create a great eCommerce store. Currently, the detox juice market alone is $3.4 billion! You could specialize in organic detox products, vitamins, weight loss supplements, or other popular dieting methods.
How to Develop a Unique Business Idea
If you’re still at a loss for what types of products or services to sell, don’t give up yet! As writer and media strategist Brian Roberts recommends, aspiring entrepreneurs can get several new ideas by doing research on these following web pages:
- Amazon. Amazon offers nearly every product under the sun, so choose any industry or product you’re interested in and start combing through the reviews for products. Roberts recommends reading the 3-star reviews for a balanced customer opinion. Reviews on the extreme sides of the spectrum won’t be as useful for developing an idea since they tend to be overly negative or unrealistically positive. 3-star reviews will tell you what customers liked about the product and what aspects of the item they would like to change, which can spark some awesome entrepreneurial ideas.
- Reddit. There are hundreds of thousands of Reddit users who use the platform to talk about ideas, share info, and discuss specific problems within their professions. No matter what industry or market you’re interested in, you’re sure to find a specific subreddit that you can gain consumer insights and ideas from. Then, once you develop your business, you can let the community know about your improved products designed specifically to resolve their common pain points.
- Quora. Quora saw an average of 300 million monthly visitors in 2018, making it one of the most popular and reputable Q&A sites available. You can read answers given by industry professionals and ask other site users what they think about one of your eCommerce business ideas. You could also search for “how-to” questions and other topics to find more common problems that require modern solutions.
- Google’s Keyword Planner. Google’s Keyword Planner tool is a great resource for choosing products or business ideas because you can see how many people are searching for specific keywords. The goal is to pick keywords that get enough hits to be profitable, but not so general that your online store will be overlooked by hundreds of competitors.
Roberts continues his priceless lesson for entrepreneurs, stating that a successful business idea must have at least one out of seven important qualities in order to appeal to its target market and stay relevant for years to come. To ensure that your idea has good potential, look over this list to make sure your product checks off at least one of the following benefits:
- Saves consumers time and/or money.
- Appeals to or builds a person’s ego.
- Improves overall happiness.
- Provides safety.
- Improves comfort.
- Makes everyday life easier.
- Increases efficiency.
Latest Technologies in eCommerce
Before you start looking into various platforms to build your website on, it’s crucial for entrepreneurs to know what types of designs and technologies their online store should have. There are countless ways for anyone to start creating a website, but not all online stores are created equal. For example, since 66% of eCommerce shopping is done on mobile devices, websites that aren’t optimized for mobile can miss out on a significant number of sales.
Experts have predicted that the following up-and-coming technologies will grow exponentially in popularity this year, so be sure to take note of these innovative developments:
- Omnichannel presence. CEO of Acquire.io Laduram Vishnoi reports that “90% of customers expect unhindered interactions across multiple channels and devices.” Developing an omnichannel presence allows the customer to receive help or support throughout their entire shopping experience by implementing various communication systems like video chat or screen sharing.
- Responsive design. A website built with a responsive design optimizes your store to look and feel the same on any type of device. If a customer is browsing your store on their phone and later decides to check out using their laptop, they’ll have a simple, streamlined experience.
- Personalized experiences. With AI and various analytics systems, business owners can create highly customized customer journeys for every individual that browses their store. Personalization takes each visitor’s preferences into account and can create helpful suggestions based on the user’s history or previously purchased items.
- Quick check-out process. Cart abandonment can be a frustrating issue for eCommerce business owners to see, and it can happen even more frequently if a site doesn’t accept a customer’s preferred payment method, if customers have to fill out unnecessary forms, or if the process seems overly complicated. Today’s online checkout options should include an option to save a customer’s information so they can check out with one click next time they shop on your site, and by accepting a range of different payment methods.
- Virtual reality/Augmented reality technologies. The most common reason someone might avoid buying a product online is because they aren’t able to touch it and try it out like they could in a physical store. Now, different clothing retailers and furniture suppliers are using VR and AR to let customers “try out” the products! For example, more and more clothing companies are creating virtual fitting rooms to let customers upload a photo of themselves and test out different products to see exactly how the clothing will look on them in real life.
Advice for Creating an Amazing Online Store
Even though you’re not building a physical storefront, you still need to approach your eCommerce store with the same mindset. This includes creating a detailed business plan that includes an accurate description of your company, marketing strategies, competitive analysis, and a report of your financial situation. Writing out an actual plan will help you set clear goals for your company and stay on track with reaching these goals.
As for creating your eCommerce website, keep these main points in mind to set yourself up for success:
- Choose the right platform. If you want your eCommerce store to be fully customizable and scalable, you will have to be wary of different platforms. Some platforms allow very limited customization and might not scale with your business as it gains popularity. You will also need to ensure that your platform is up-to-date with the latest technologies in order to keep up with your competitors. For a specialized eCommerce platform that will offer you the latest tools and options, consider using Magento to get your store up and running in just 10 weeks. With low-cost options, 24/7 support, and hundreds of extensions, it’s no surprise that tens of thousands of business owners have built their stores on the Magento platform.
- Always keep the user’s experience in mind. When designing your website and creating new products, put the customer’s needs and wants first. For example, beautiful minimalist web design may look attractive, but if a customer can’t navigate the site easily, it will hurt your business.
- Become social media savvy. Once your eCommerce store is up and running, it’s time to create social media pages for your business to build a following and start marketing to your target audience. Like thousands of other companies, you can begin using social selling strategies to build long-term relationships with potential customers and increase customer loyalty. Social selling includes answering customer questions, quickly resolving complaints, asking for feedback, and sharing engaging content.
- Keep looking for ways to innovate. Make peace with the fact that your business will never be “perfect.” There will always be things you can work on and improve to create the best possible experiences for your customers. If you take consumer feedback to heart and stay open-minded about making changes, your company will continue to thrive well into the future.