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What if I told you that you could launch an e-commerce brand, from idea to operational business, in as little as 30 days — would you believe me?
Well, you can. It’s something my company does often, as we want to get potential new brands into the market as quickly as possible to test consumer response and demand. Not every idea is going to be a home run, and the sooner you can identify winners and losers, the quicker you can clip the underperforming brands while scaling the ones that show the most potential.
There is a simple eight-step formula to do this. If you have ever wanted to launch an e-commerce brand, here is your chance.
1. Identify an in-demand product with high margin potential.
To increase the odds of a successful brand launch, identify a product with international demand — not limited based on geographic location or seasons. The more universal, the better. You also want to find something that has high profit margins, is easy to store and fulfill and is relatively inexpensive to ship.
Once something becomes hot, hundreds of competitors pop up, so keep your eye on eBay Top Products, Amazon Best Sellers and Google Trends to stay on top of popular trends.
2. Find an experienced and competent manufacturer.
A quick search online will often lead you to dozens of manufacturers, but you need to perform intense due diligence to make sure you partner with the correct one. The wrong manufacturing partner can result in production delays, which may kill your business before it gets off the ground.
We get samples in advance and put potential manufacturers through an extensive communications test. We want to know how quickly they respond and how they reply to messages and questions with various levels of urgency and difficulty.
If they aren’t on the ball in the beginning, I can promise you it will get much worse once you engage them. Settle for nothing less than 100% confidence in your manufacturing partner. While we now only work with manufacturers based in the United States, there are plenty of overseas options found on websites like Alibaba and DHgate.
3. Create a brand name with availability across all online channels.
A brand name must be appealing, memorable and brandable across all online channels, from domain to social media handles.
My company doesn’t move forward with a brand name unless it’s available as a dot-com domain and all social handles — Twitter, Instagram and Facebook — are available. The brand name is very important and can make or break your product, so be willing to negotiate the purchase of a domain, as well as swapping out social media handles, if need be.
4. Get your website up and be prepared to split-test everything.
The easiest way to get going is to use an e-commerce platform like Shopify and use a pre-built theme to get started. This allows you to get rolling and begin to split-test different offers and price points without the expense of a fully custom theme.
Spend your money on split-testing your idea and validating the business, rather than investing in a custom website. Once you prove that you have a viable business, then you can create a custom branded website. But, you need nothing more than a pre-built theme to start selling and testing.
5. Determine what fulfillment and shipping model you will use.
Determine what is going to work for your specific situation. If you are running a drop-shipping model, then the manufacturer is going to fulfill your orders, so you will need to integrate their system with your backend so they can fulfill orders in a timely manner. If they are only manufacturing, then you need to have the product sent to a third-party fulfillment center and have them handle the processing, or you need to fulfill orders yourself.
We handle all of our brands in house. From marketing to fulfillment, nothing is done by a third party. While we prefer to have complete control, it’s important to make this decision based on what is best for your situation. The more involved you are, the more work and resources required.
6. Identify sales and revenue goals.
Know your numbers from the beginning. These include product cost, customer acquisition goals, etc. No cost can be overlooked, from little details like shipping tape and shipping labels to credit card merchant fees.
Know your expenses for each unit down to fractions of a penny and have sales and revenue goals identified that must be hit in order to be on the fast track for strong growth that will contribute to a thriving business.
7. Create a marketing plan that coincides with your sales and revenue goals.
You have a product and a website to sell it — now you need customers. The easiest way to drive instant buyers is to run highly targeted Facebook and Instagram ads. The targeting options allow you to put your product directly in front of your ideal customer.
Track everything and take full advantage of the Facebook pixel — collecting data from day one is very important. You can validate almost any e-commerce brand these days using Facebook and Instagram ads, so you don’t need to test a dozen different advertising channels in the beginning.
8. Go live and focus on data — nothing else.
Launch and go live as quickly as possible. There will never be the “perfect” time to go live. You will never know if you have a solid product until you are live, so get to that point as quickly as possible.
Waiting for your website to be perfect or waiting for a warehouse of inventory isn’t going to matter. Your target market will either be interested in your product or they won’t. Don’t let feelings get in your way. Listen to the data and nothing else.
And remember, if your product is a failure, don’t give up. It may take a few go-arounds before you bring a winner to market.
March 15, 2019 at 09:08AM
Forbes – Entrepreneurs