5 tips about the e-commerce gold rush

It’s a brave world out there for the intrepid that roll the dice in the hopes of cashing in on the ecommerce 2.0 goldmine. My business partner recently equated the advent of the internet as akin to just that – the great gold rush.

Have you used internet banking recently? Did you order your groceries online? 10 years ago these simple tasks we take for granted every day as being “just there” did not exist. Think of the gold rush – sure, the prospectors mined away and some struck it rich, but around the miners and their industry, sprung new industries and services to support them – the gold wasn’t just in the ground, but it was spun of the opportunity it represented for new businesses to spring up overnight – soon the gold that was mined lined their pockets.

…But like any story of its sort – it has its winners and its losers. The winnings went to those that not only to the innovators, but to those that delivered on promises timeously and consistently.

Today, nothing has changed. Thus this advice acts as more of a reminder and an assurance of good practices than new knowledge.

1. Examine the landscape

Not all countries are created equal. Every country has its eccentricities. Take, for example, South Africa. We have a totally unreliable postal service and thus are at the mercy of expensive courier solutions. Have you factored this as a barrier of entry? In USA, the postal service is reliable, cheap and efficient. How will your product get to the consumer and compared to the product price what is the cost of shipping? Before embarking upon product-based ecommerce businesses, examine how they will be delivered. It’s easy to become dazzled by the sparkle of ecommerce 2.0, but first make sure you can actually deliver.

2. Yes. The wheel still works. Focus.

Do thorough research before being tempted to design an ecommerce cart of your own or start customising one too much. I assure you – several excellent ones already exist. Perhaps they are just short of a feature or two you would like – but the guts are still good to go. Don’t re-invent the wheel. Focus on your goal – engaging in ecommerce and with your customer. Provide a marketplace that works. There will be a time you will be tempted to develop software – really think twice, and rather find out-of-the-box solutions that let you do what it is you want to do.

3. It’s a wide world out there…

There is this common misconception – that “I will open up a site, put products or service on it and people will just come. I will use social media and Google!” It’s a big world out there, and you have to work HARD to get found amongst a sea of established and emerging competitors. Running an ecommerce 2.0 store means understanding a new way that businesses operate : where the consumers have more power than they have ever had before.

The good news is that in an ecommerce 2.0 environment, content is – as with any site – still king. If you can create an environment where your users feel like they own the site – they will create all the content you need to rise up to the top of Google searches in your field. So create a home where they feel comfortable and step back.

Relinquish the reins of control a little and watch your community flourish. As with any organic growth – listen to what the growing community wants and feed that rather than force the growth and what they consume. In return the community will grow and create more content, creating a “X marks the spot” effect on search engines. This will equate to more time spent on your site and new users being attracted, which leads to greater product exposure and thus more potential for sales to occur.

4. Understand the offerings and tools

Take the time – explore and come to understand the nomenclature – it will serve you well. SEO, PPC, CPM, crowdsourcing, social media – some of the terms that underlie and define the industry. Speaking the local language will serve you well. Setting up your site correctly will affect your success deeply.

Understanding new revenue streams and how they can be generated, sustained and grown can create a business unto itself over and above the main product and services you offer.

5. Network

The internet ecommerce field is rather amazing. Perhaps so for the astronomical sums of money flowing from one site to another or the runaway success stories and IP evaluations – more so – it is the people who are behind it. A new generation of business person that believes in the free-flow of information and the right to accessibility of that information.

Ecommerce 2.0 wunderkinds are people who understand the benefits tacitly intrinsic and inalienable from the sharing of knowledge and collaboration.

Attend any 27 Dinner, Geek Dinner, Silicon Cape event or so-forth and you will be floored by the wealth of knowledge that is freely shared.

2.0 digital cowboys understand that community breeds intelligence and commerce. Crowdsourcing, crowdfunding, social media – these are expressions of this sentiment.

Go forth and network.



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