E-Commerce 101: How to Get Started
By: Robert Spence
With online shopping skyrocketing, the e-commerce market is red hot. In fact, it’s scorching with lighter fluid. Earlier this year, Global research and advisory firm Forrester released a report predicting e-commerce sales will increased by 13 percent in 2013. That’s a whopping 31 billion dollars more than the $262 billion raked in last year from online sale. And while you may have a great idea for an online store, getting started is another story. We break down the first three steps every future entrepreneur should do to start an e-commerce.
Finding Your Brand Domain Name
First things first, get your domain name. The first step in creating your e-commerce store is finding a suitable domain name for your store, preferably something associated with your keyword. Because Google uses keywords to rank specific websites, selecting the right keywords in your domain name is important. Your link popularity and branding will be based on the domain name you’ve chosen, so make sure you choose accordingly.
In addition to purchasing a domain name, you’re going to need hosting. Hosting allows your website to be accessible via the world wide web. It’s a crucial component and should be the second thing you purchase after your domain name.
Building your Storefront
This is where the magic happens. Depending on the type of product or service you’re selling online, the storefront or “theme” is vital to your success. This is the first impression visitors will see and when choosing your theme it’s important to make sure the theme showcases your business correctly. Additionally, the e-commerce theme you decide on will cover many aspects of your store including inventory settings, managing orders from customers, shipping settings, and payment gateway. These functions are essential to running a successful online store so take a deep breath, slow down, and make the best decision. You can also use a handful of e-commerce shopping cart software that incorporate everything you need (e-commerce theme, hosting, shopping cart) in one service.
Last but least, make sure your storefront is easy on the eyes, easy to navigate, and easy to understand. Nobody likes purchasing from a complicated website, especially if it takes 30 minutes to checkout.
Sourcing Products to Sell
This is the make it or break it factor for any online store. To have a successful e-commerce website you have to have quality products people want to buy. While it may sound easy to do, finding products that are in high-demand at lower than retail costs can be a challenge. The first thing to do is figure out your budget for new products. Once you’ve done that, it’s time to create a list of the products you want to carry and finding pricing. We recommend locating 3-5 prices per item. Sites like Alibaba and Aliexpress are great stepping stones for businesses to find products and even find manufacturers to create products for you. Just make sure the bottom line is your profit margins are high and your products are made with quality material. Last thing you want is being inundated with returns because the product you’re selling is cheap and fell apart. Spend a little more and go quality.
Just remember, starting an e-commerce takes time, energy and effort. It won’t happen overnight but eventually you’ll get there.
Marketing matters: from IBM to Kyndryl
Prior to joining Kyndryl as Chief Marketing Officer, Maria had a 25-year career at IBM, most recently as the tech giant’s CMO where she oversaw all marketing professionals and activities across North America, Canada and Latin America. She has held senior global marketing positions in a variety of disciplines and business units across IBM, most notably strategic initiatives in Smarter Cities and Watson Customer Engagement, as well as leading teams in services, business analytics, and mobile and industry solutions. She is known for her work with teams to leverage data, analytics and cloud technologies to build deeper engagements with customers and partners.
With a passion for marketing, business and people, and a recognized expert in data-driven marketing and brand engagement, Maria talks to Business Chief about her new role, her leadership style and what success means to her.
You've recently moved from IBM to Kyndryl, joining as CMO. Tell us about this exciting new role?
I’m Chief Marketing Officer for Kyndryl, the independent company that will be created following the separation from IBM of its Managed Infrastructure Services business, expected to occur by the end of 2021. My role is to plan, develop, and execute Kyndryl's marketing and advertising initiatives. This includes building a company culture and brand identity on which we base our marketing and advertising strategy.
We have an amazing opportunity ahead at Kyndryl to create a company brand that will stand apart in the market by leading with our people first. Once we are an independent company, each Kyndryl employee will advance the vital systems that power human progress. Our people are devoted, restless, empathetic, and anticipatory – key qualities needed as we build on existing customer relationships and cultivate new ones. Our people are at the heart of this business and I am deeply hopeful and excited for our future.
What experiences have helped prepare you for this new opportunity?
I’ve had a very rich and diverse career history at IBM that has lasted 25+ years. I started out in sales but landed explored opportunities at IBM in different roles, business units, geographies, and functions. Marketing and business are my passions and I landed on Marketing because it allowed me to utilize both my left and right brain, bringing together art and science. In college, I was no tonly a business major, but an art major. I love marketing because I can leverage my extensive knowledge of business, while also being able to think openly and creatively.
The opportunities I was given during my time at IBM and my natural curiosity have led me to the path I’m on now and there’s no better next career step than a once-in-a-lifetime-opportunity to help launch a company. The core of my role at Kyndryl is to create a culture centered on our people and growing up in my career at IBM has allowed me to see first-hand how to prioritize people and ensure they are at the heart of progress in everything Kyndryl will do.
How would you describe your leadership style?
I believe that people aren't your greatest assets, they are your only assets. My platform and background for leadership has always been grounded in authenticity to who I am and centered on diversity and inclusion. I immigrated to the US from Chile when I was 10 years old and so I know the power and beauty that comes from leaning into what makes you different from other people, and that's what I want every person in my marketing organization to feel – the value in bringing their most authentic self to work every day. The way our employees feel when they show up for themselves authentically is how they will also show up for our customers, and strong relationships drive growth.
I think this is especially true in light of a world forever changed by the pandemic. Living through such an unprecedented time has reinforced that we are all humans. We can't lead or care for one another without empathy and I think leaders everywhere have been reminded of this.
What’s the best leadership advice you’ve received?
When I was growing up as an immigrant in North Carolina, I often wanted to be just like everyone else. But my mother always told me: Be unique, be memorable – you have an authentic view and experience of the world that no one else will ever have, so don't try to be anyone else but you.
What does success look like to you?
I think the concept of success is multi-faceted. From a career perspective, being in a job where you're respected and appreciated, and where you can see how your contributions are providing value by motivating your teams to be better – that's success! From a personal perspective, there is no greater accomplishment than investing in the next generation. I love mentoring younger professionals – they are the future. I want my legacy as a leader to include providing value in work culture, but also in leaving a personal impact on the lives of professionals who will carry the workforce forward. Finding a position in life with a job and company that offers me a chance at all of that is what success looks like to me.
What advice would you give to your younger self just starting out in the industry?
I've always been a naturally curious person and it's easy for me to over-commit to projects that pique my interest. I've learned over years of practice how to manage that, so to my younger self I’d say… prioritize the things that are most important, and then become amazing at those things.