There are a thousand things you have to do while bringing a product into the market. One of these things is figuring out how to sell directly to your customer. An effective way to generate early revenue and show traction for your product is the Direct-to-Consumer model via an E-Commerce store. Although easier said than done, it can be highly profitable. It’s great for controlling the branding of your product, and it gives you lots of flexibility for expansion and change.
You should be thinking about creating an E-Commerce store before your crowdfunding campaign, and while working with manufacturers, so you can continue taking orders after the campaign. Getting an E-Commerce store set up around this time is ideal. When thinking about creating an E-Commerce store, you will have two options:
- Do it yourself and learn WordPress, to implement WooCommerce or use Shopify.
- Hire a developer that will set it up for you.
In this article, we will show you how to do it yourself.
Creating your own E-Commerce store doesn’t require you to write a single line of code; you’ll need to create a WordPress site and add a plugin, or have an account with an externally hosted storefront. WordPress is a CMS (Content Management System), a tool for easily building your own website/blog and provides a user-friendly backend for managing your posts and pages. If you grab yourself a hosting account (web space) from a provider like Bluehost, then you can upload the files there and be up and running in minutes.
The WordPress platform itself is free, but a domain name (a web address like yoursitename.com) and hosting (a service that connects your site to the world wide web) will cost you around $3-$4 a month. It is worth spending that amount, as owning your own domain name seems far more professional as opposed to having your site on someone else’s domain (yourbusiness.freewebsite.com).
After you’ve signed up with Bluehost, you can find your 1-click-installation for WordPress in your account’s control panel. Here are the steps you will need to follow:
- Log in to your hosting account.
- Go to your control panel.
- Look for the “WordPress” icon.
- Choose the domain where you want to install your website.
- Click the “Install Now” button and you should get access to your NEW WordPress website.
Once you have installed WordPress on your domain, you’ll see a very basic site, which you can personalize as per your needs through your WordPress Dashboard.
Next, you need to choose an E-Commerce platform, and here, you will have two major choices: hosted or self-hosted. All hosted means is that the store isn’t actually kept on your webspace but is instead an account with an external website. This gives you less control, but is easier to set up and manage. You can relate this to how Facebook randomly changes their policies, and all of a sudden, your private images are now available to the world at large. That can happen with hosted solutions.
Shopify, for instance, is an example of a hosted storefront. This lets you sign up and create an account, then add your own items and create your online store. You simply link to your shopify store from your own website by way of a buy now widget and after customers have bought a product, they’ll be taken right back to your site.
You can also host your own domain with choices like WooCommerce. Selling this way will allow you even more freedom and introduce more optional settings. WooCommerce is especially easy because it works as a WordPress Plugin – it is a two second installation for anyone familiar with WordPress and lots of built-in support.
Using Your Own E-Commerce Store
Once you have created your store and your products are ready for sale, Now its time to come up with a traffic plan to drive sales to your ecommerce website. From there, all you need to do is link to your store from your blog and then promote your site via SEO, social media and PPC advertising to drive sales. This can be a relatively slow process at first, but as you gather momentum, you’ll find that sales can really snowball.
Here are some recommendations on how to drive traffic and help your site to take off quickly:
- Use content marketing to improve your site’s chance of getting indexed and to gain the trust of visitors and fans.
- You want to find where your target audience hangs out online and be on those social media platforms. Then make sure you have consistent branding across them all.
- Spy on competitors to know how they are marketing to your same audience. This way you can capitalize on areas that they are missing. A free tool is Google Alerts and two paid solutions are What Runs Where and Similar Web
- Find online communities relevant to your target audience and develop relationships with your them. Remember the golden rule: 80% is building relationships and 20% is promoting your products.
- The quickest way to see if your online store makes sales is to use PPC advertising such as Facebook Ads or Google Ads. However, it’s important to master writing the art of writing ad’s to drive traffic to your online store.
Put in the time and effort and it can be very profitable and a highly rewarding achievement. I think E-Commerce is a great way to validate revenue, and get your product into retail distribution.
UPDATE: We wanted to also showcase another e-commerce platform called Try-celery. This platform is truly optimized for taking pre-orders post crowdfunding. That is the most critical time for a Hardware company and try celery makes it an easy transition by allowing you to use their robust e-commerce solutions. This is truly a great solution for Hardware companies looking to get their business off the ground. For more information about features go here.