It’s 2017, and everything today is online. You might be a distributor of steel, industrial parts, or even vending, but the answer is still the same: Get online and start selling through your website.
Many distributors and companies have been in the industry for decades and are experts in their fields, but their processes are outdated and old-fashioned. As we all know, you must adapt to the times, or someone else will (and take you out as a result).
Let me show you the steps on how to get on e-commerce, create a new revenue stream for the business, and become effective with online sales.
Step 1: Figure out your margins and competitor pricing
You need to know how big your margins are, and I can show you how much to invest in marketing and show a real ROI. For example, if you sell a product at $100.00, and your margin is 30%, you make $30 for every $100 product you sell. In marketing, if I told you I can get you more sales using $5 for each product you sell, but sell you hundreds, you can give up another $5 to obtain more sales.
Secondly, you need to beat out competitor pricing. As a distributor, you have the power of credibility and sourcing at your disposal. You typically should be able to compete with competitor pricing, and you need to do so when starting an e-commerce store. With specific software, I can pull competitor pricing automatically in your backend system and adjust your product pricing automatically to match or even beat their price. This keeps your advantage against others.
Step 2: Find a good Marketing / Development Company
The next step after figuring out your numbers is finding a good marketing and development company that can help take your vision to reality. This part is tough, as good agencies are hard to find, but this is very important. A good agency will set you up for success. It will create a foundation that works. It will create a website that is easy to use and a backend you can easily maintain.
Don’t simply go with the cheapest bid, because as like anything else in this world, you get what you pay for. There is a reason why BMW’s are more expensive than Honda vehicles. You are getting better quality.
Not only should the marketing and development agency help you with your new e-commerce website, but they should also help you set up your process in the backend. How will orders be taken? How will it integrate with the inventory? What’s the shipping process? These all need to be addressed when building out your e-commerce platform.
Find someone that is trustworthy, that has experience, and that you are confident will take you to the top. Honestly, the hell with it… if you want to save time, just hire me.
P.S. When building your e-commerce store, stick with Magento CMS. It’s the best and most customizable e-commerce platform there is. It’s also open source, which means no licensing fees.
Step 3: Invest in Marketing
Now that you have a brand-new e-commerce site out there in the world, how do people get to it? Does it really exist unless you have visitors? You need to have a marketing strategy in place using all the channels that are at your disposal.
1) Google Adwords (PPC)
This is where you pay for what you get. Example: if you have a budget of $5000 per month, you expect X number of clicks and X amount of sales. This will be the fastest way to see a return on your money, and the easiest way as well.
2) Search Engine Optimization
This is more of a long-term play, especially if you’ve never done e-commerce before. This is where you want to create a strategy for getting your website ranked without having to spend money. This is an organic type of play.
3) Adroll and Retargeting
Ever wonder how after you look for a new car, and then log in to Facebook, all the ads are car ads? Welcome to retargeting. It places a cookie into viewers’ browsers and shows ads based on search history. This is also a Pay Per Click system.
4) Social Media Marketing
Not everyone should use social media for e-commerce, but if your product is directly to the consumer, this can be a very powerful tool. If you are a distributor for industrial and such, I wouldn’t invest too much money into it. (It’s great for brand awareness though.)
5) Retention / Emails
Create a daily/weekly email campaign that will be sent out to customers so that they are aware of what you are selling and new deals, targeting the products in which they are interested. You will be surprised how much revenue you obtain through email marketing.
Now, here’s a secret: These marketing services are all great, but it depends on how good the people doing them are. Just because someone says they can do PPC or SEO, it doesn’t mean they are good at it. You need to find someone that really does show a good ROI.
Step 4: Have Patience
E-commerce sites are not overnight successes. It takes time, patience, and commitment. Remember when Amazon was just selling books online? It’s time to adapt, invest, and get you up to speed.
Remember to have patience. Also remember to set your goals realistically, and don’t take any shit from the marketing people if you expect better. At the end of the day, if you are making money, they are making money. The more you make, the more they make.
I understand why you might be hesitant and sown into your old ways, but let me assure you that if you are even thinking about doing e-commerce, it’s probably about time you did. If you are looking for a sign, this is it.