Technology that works, results that delight

How to win big with e-commerce

Sales, Marketing, Inventory, Accounting... and more.

I dream about it. You know, the website that sells a product or app like hotcakes and mailbox money just rolls in.

The odds are not in your favor. Selling a product or an app online requires a particular business model. It’s not a lucky lottery ticket. If you have a great product and you want to win the jackpot, here’s the ante you need to make early retirement come true.

Don't just roll the dice; begin with the end in mind.

  • As you’re building the model, consider who could acquire your business. Taking a one-time cash payout is like winning the lottery.
  • Automate everything you can. Customize the online sales flow so it works in sync with your offline sales, operational and financial workflow. If you don't, I promise you will spend more on handling things in an inefficient, manual way. You’ll need more people, money and time to succeed.
  • Metrics and reports make you smarter. Track inventory, best sellers and other financial metrics as purchases are made. Before you start, think about what information you need to make solid decisions to measure your progress and get it programmed that way from the beginning. This lets you be nimble and respond to changing conditions accurately.

Select savvy marketing, sales fulfillment and technical partners that bring their unique skills to the table for a winning team.

  • Don't confuse marketing with sales. Marketing attracts prospects for sales to close. These are two different, but complementary, functions.
  • Focus on branding and marketing to target prospects. Use social media, search engines or pay-per-click advertising, based on the competition and demographic you want to target.
  • Qualify leads interested in your product. Create target personas and understand their interests, where they go online and the information they need to make a decision. Share through channels they use, providing meaningful value.
  • Decide if your business needs an internal or external sales team. Do you need sales reps covering territory paired with customer support and service? Define your customer relationship management plan, commission model and sales reporting structure.
  • Choose tools that complement each other — otherwise you will have a site rife with security holes and band-aid fixes, with data that can’t be shared easily.
  • Know the fulfillment and shipping parameters you need to support. How will you price shipping? What vendors will you use and are you using their software to mail?  How does this interact with your fulfillment app? Will you be shipping internationally? The more options, the more has to be configured or custom-coded.

Play your cards right.

  • Choose the right e-commerce app. Pricing runs from free/virtually free to expensive one-time purchases to apps requiring installation fees and long-term maintenance fees. You’ll need answers or estimates to questions like these before you decide:
    • Do customers need to personalize products or choose different colors and sizes?
    • How easy is it to apply promotions and discounts?
    • How many unique SKUs will you have?
    • Do you need to allow a business customer to use purchase orders, or is credit card processing enough?
  • Sharing information between apps is crucial. When you sell something, it should reduce your inventory. Your e-commerce app should talk to your inventory application, which may very likely not be your accounting application. Is a digital marketing promotion impacting your sales? These all must communicate to make well informed decisions.
  • Your technology architecture needs to keep you open for business, helping you deliver on your promise to customers.
    • Does your app keep all customer and payment information in the most secure environment? You need Secure Socket Layer (SSL).
    • Don't show your hand. Security should be tested and re-tested.
    • Does the solution scale with your growth projections?
    • Pay for a redundant host that incorporates backups to stay open for business.

Know when to pull out the ace up your sleeve. Needs change over time, so embrace agile development and agile marketing to meet needs regularly to provide the market advantage. Phase features based on sales expectations.

Knowing how to play the game goes a long way toward convincing Lady Luck to benefit your favor. Now you can beat the odds!