The Fundamental Pillars Of E-commerce

In this post I will write about the six fundamental pillars of e-stores. This six should be at the heart of every successful e-commerce strategy.

1. Web Development – without it we cannot speak about e-commerce

No matter if you have just started your business or whether you have been doing it for a decade. One of your most important tasks will be to continuously take care about your e-store’s web development. Yes. It is a continuous work!

Sadly many entrepreneurs think (especially before their first site) that once they have finished and launched their site, the development ends. Nothing could be further from the truth.

You have to keep up with new technologies, new social applications, new email software and so on.

To tackle the challenges of continuous development, project cycles (better known as sprints to many IT professionals) will need a good development team.

A good development team is:

  • flexible
  • has experience in your industry
  • proactive
  • reliable

2. Online marketing – there is no store without customers

There is no store without customers as there is no e-commerce store which can make a profit without paying customers. Your online marketing efforts -be it PPC, SMO, SEO, e-mail, affiliate, discussion marketing or content marketing- will help you in this.

Your online marketing team is your second most important asset after a well-built continuously developed digital shop.

When it comes to online marketing efforts, the most important thing is MEASUREMENT. Never ever forget to measure, whether that $ 10,000 brought you anything besides some nice ad space and flashy banners.

As a manager you need reliable and quantifiable data on the bottom line. In this case this is ROI and subsequently PROFIT.

If your ads don’t bring in paying customers, money for you, then you need to look for new methods of getting the word out. Be creative!

If your marketing team is full of bullshit and tries to make you believe, that inefficient, loss-generating marketing campaigns still help you in such things as “brand awareness”, “brand image”, “web 2.0”, “bigger picture”, “holistic approach” or my personal favorite “cross segment synergies”. Just fire them all.

Even the biggest brands cannot truly affect these or measure the effectiveness of such campaigns. So unless you are Coca-Cola you don’t even need to know what they mean.

To build up a successful online marketing campaign you must learn, test and improve your marketing all the time. This is the part of the business which needs the most creativity but also the most stressful part of the business, because everything is always changing and you must be flexible all the time.

3. Logistics – customers want it now and fast

Okay, you have the e-store and the first few orders started to trickle in.

Now you have to deliver the orders in time, to the right place and in immaculate condition.

Logistic also includes administration, which you have to care about. Do not forget the guarantee and warranty issues as well.

This is the part of the business which needs patience and punctuality, but the easiest to optimize and automate.

4. Accounting and legal aid – you need them as well

Whether you like it or not after a certain size you do have to deal with legislations, licenses, and most importantly trademarks.

Accounting is also very important. There is more to proper, complaint administration than just receipts and success brings with itself an overwhelming amount of paperwork. Better plan ahead.

Most entrepreneurs are extremely creative so they will have problems with this area. Therefore outsourcing this task to trained professionals early on might be a good idea.

5. Human resources – the most complex, but could be your best investment

Usually online startups start really small, as one-man or family companies or maybe a few friends. Whatever the case is, if initial tight-knit community is successful, then they need employees real soon.

This can prove really challenging depending on the business and the founder’s experiences. No two situations are alike and only really big companies can afford a professional, separate HR department.

Probably recruitment, training and other HR responsibilities will be divided up evenly among the all the employees. Therefore as an e-commerce specialist you need to be prepared for unexpected situations when working for smaller companies.

You also have to be prepared, that smaller companies are not very good at scaling or often at recruiting the right people. So it can happen that you have to get things done with already overworked people, who are out of their elements.

A true challenge if there ever was one!

In all earnest it is not entirely the startups fault. One client leaving can make or break small businesses but would leave bigger ones unaffected and no specific “professions” exists as most employee at a startup need to be a jack-of-all-trades.

6. Management – organize and thrive or die trying

Let’s make it clear; you cannot do everything from instinct. First you have to organize yourself and you must encourage systematic thinking, routines. Later on routines will be tasks and subtasks and systematic thinking will give rise to systems and strategies.

And as you scale you have to automate as many things as you can.

A good company is like a machine you need to fix their parts, but it can work without your continuous supervision apart from the occasional breakdown.

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By Simon Andras (SimonTheSorcerer)

This guest post was written by Simon from Simon’s Online Marketing, an online marketing agency specilaizing in websites and e-commerce stores for clients in difficult niches. The company manages more than 20 sex-shops, legal high shops, duty-free alcohol and tobacco e-commerce stores.

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