[0:01] Hey everyone, welcome to a brand new episode of the elevated entrepreneur podcast. As you know, we’re running a very special series here on the Elevated Entrepreneur Podcast called the Retail Entrepreneur Series where I’m talking to some amazing retail business owners and brands, who have done amazing things in your business.
[0:19] The first one in this series is an interview with Wolfi, the gentleman who runs a phenomenal bike store here in the region along Sheikh Zayed Road in Dubai. And if you haven’t already checked that episode out, I’d love for you to go listen to it, because Wolfi is really clear about what his strategy is, and how he’s accomplished, what he has accomplished.
[0:38] As we go through this Retail Entrepreneur Series, I also wanted to put out an episode and give you a guide on how you can get started with selling everywhere. These days, ecommerce is all the rage, everyone’s talking about it. I would like to help you understand what is at stake. And what do you need to do to get started with your own e commerce business, if you already are thinking of it, or if you’ve started one, and you’re not sure how to take it forward, I hope that this guide will help you get there. Now, this guide is broken down into a series of steps that I’m going to walk you through these steps and get you to a place where you are a lot more knowledgeable. But what can happen with e commerce. So let’s get started.
[1:21] You’re listening to the Elevated Entrepreneur Podcast, a podcast designed to help retailers, restaurants, and entrepreneurs simplify business operations and use modern technology to elevate their business. here’s your host, Dhiren Bhatia.
[1:39] Okay, welcome to this episode, where we are giving you a guide to selling everywhere. What do I mean by selling everywhere. If you run a retail business, or you run any other kind of business, and you are wanting to offer your product and service to a larger audience, online is the way to go. You want to be able to offer your services and products to a much larger audience than what might come your way to your physical store. If you have one. What I want to get into is the idea of selling everywhere. There used to be a point where everywhere meant online and offline and online generally meant your website. However, today’s day and age has really changed things for business owners, especially retail business owners, because there’s so much more options when it comes to selling online. What are those options number one, you could sell on your website? Number two, you could sell on social media, like your Facebook, your Instagram channels, your Tiktok channels, social selling is what that is referred to. There is also the option of selling on marketplaces like Amazon. And here in the region, we have something called loon, which is a competitor to Amazon, you’re welcome to go on and sell on those marketplaces as well. And that can really change things when it comes to selling online.
[2:52] So the idea here is that selling online, no longer related to just selling on your website, there are so many other sub channels that you can also bring into the picture. And the last option, in terms of online channels, is the ability to sell on other people’s website. So it’s a step up from selling on marketplaces. And you can accomplish this by finding people who offer things to your kind of customers, and then ask them if they could list your product for a nominal fee. And so that’s also a great idea when you think about selling online.
[3:23] And I think this brings us to step number one, a lot of business owners that I speak to generally just have a one track mind when it comes to selling online. I like to create my own website, and I’d like to start selling. But I think that isn’t the answer to this question. What is your ecommerce strategy? And how does it fit into your overall business strategy, you may have a retail store, you may have this great idea that you’ve just come up on? And how does e commerce figure into this? This is the question that I need you to answer, probably with your team by yourself. Just think about what does e commerce strategy mean for you and how it factors into your overall business strategy? Because e commerce is into short term play. It’s a very, very long term play, we’re talking 510 15. And probably the future of your business is e commerce. So how does it all fit in? And is it something that you’d like to even spend your time and energy in? Do you have the right talent? I think there are many sub questions that come under this one step, which is what is your ecommerce strategy? It’s about where do you want to be? Do you have the right people? And how does it fit into your overall business strategy?
[4:27] What I want to say here is there are many reasons why someone is talking about going online. It’s not just COVID or it’s not that my competitors are doing it or everybody’s doing it and I need to do it. That’s not what I’m talking about. You need to take a much more deeper look into why you want to go into e commerce and why does it matter because that y is really going to help you stay motivated as things may not always work out to the way you’ve planned them to especially true with ecommerce stores. In fact, I think a lot of business owners think that ecommerce is a lot more simpler than running a physical store. In fact, it’s actually quite the same running an e commerce store means you’ve got to make sure that the windows are dressed, you’ve got to make sure that it’s fresh. There are people that are coming, you got to be responsible for bringing traffic. So there’s a lot of components that go into running a successful e commerce business. And like I said, it’s very, very similar to actually running a physical store. So in most cases, actually running an e commerce store means you’re adding a brand new store to your existing portfolio.
[5:24] So think about that, as you start to go online. The second thing is building your e commerce website. No, I’m joking. That’s not it, because that’s what most people would intend to do. But actually, there’s one more step before you do anything to do with building and that is figuring out what is it that you want to do with your e commerce website. Now, assuming that you’ve decided that you want to go online and create your own website? The next step here is to figure out what is your list? What is your requirements list. And that is so important, because a lot of business owners get directly into building their e commerce website, and then figuring things out as they build it. As the saying goes, like building your plane as you’re streaming down to earth. That’s not the way you should approach ecommerce. It’s about figuring out what you’d like to offer, what are the features? What are the products you’re going to carry? And more importantly, who is that customer? What does that customer look like? That is going to come shop in your store, because the one thing that I have learned in business, is that you can’t be everything to everyone and your e commerce website is a very, very good example of it cannot be everything to everybody, there is a very specific slice of the market that is going to come shop at your e commerce website.
[6:31] In fact, within your industry, let’s take the example of pet goods. You might think well, if I open up a pet ecommerce website, everybody who owns a pet will come shop at my store. But I don’t think that’s true. I think there’s a very specific slice within that market that you need to figure out of who is going to come and shop on your website. There is a pet owners have just got a pet. Is it their first pet? Or is it pet owners who have families and need stuff for their pets? Again, you see, there’s so much research that goes into figuring out who are you building this for? I think this needs to be done upfront, rather than later. So that you know what to include in your ecommerce website. And also to add to that, what problem are you solving for them?
[7:11] I gave you the example of a couple that is just got a pet and having a website or an e commerce store that is very focused on them to be very, very lucrative because you can so clearly target, what are their problems? What would they need to see and how you can present your solutions to them and how you can ensure they will come and continue to shop with you on a recurring basis, as opposed to building a pet shop or a pet store for everybody in the market. So figure out who is it for and what problem do they have? And how can you solve that problem. that’s step number two. Now step number three is also not building your website. Because I think a lot of business owners like I said earlier, we’ll jump into building a website, I think that the step in the middle is actually putting pen to paper and figuring out what the design looks like. And this is what we call in the IT space of wireframe. A wireframe is really just a frame of what your website would potentially look like. It is a series of drawings, a series of photos that a user interface designer has put together based on the things that you have told him. And ideally, this would be already captured in step number two, which is plan your feature list.
[8:20] Figuring out what that website would look like is not your particular role. But you are designers role, and he is going to come on board and help you put together this frame or a skeleton of what the website should look like. Why is this important? Well, this is important because if you just go now, tell a website designer, I need to build an e commerce website, he or she is going to be very happy, because he’s got a truckload of money coming his way, and you have no idea what you want. And so he’s going to take you in circles, probably because he doesn’t know what you want. And you don’t know how to get him to understand what is it that you want. And you guys are going to spend a lot of time in loops. And if you have done this the way I’ve just laid out, which is step number one and step number two, step number three should be relatively easy because you’ve got something to give him in terms of your design mantra or your design wishes.
[9:07] Step number four. So far, we’ve talked about strategy, figuring out what the problem is figuring out who the core customer is. And the third is, what would that design look like on paper in terms of drawings and images that the UI designer has put together for you. Step number four is where you’re starting to figure out what options are available to you in terms of technology, because you’ve decided to go ahead with your own e commerce website. Your technology choice plays a very critical role in the discussion moving forward. So what are some of the options that are available to you? The first two big buckets that you should be aware of are building it yourself, versus purchasing a platform that has already been designed and built for business owners like yourself, what is building it yourself look like? I’d like to use an example of building your own custom designed home. And as you can imagine, building your own custom home can give is so much flexibility, and so much creativity, and so many choices in terms of customization. And that’s very, very true in the case of building your own website. In fact, it’s quite the identical process, if you will, because you get to choose every little detail in your own ecommerce store. However, this comes at a cost, it comes at not only just money costs, but also time cost. And it also requires you to know very specifically, what is it that you desire, because your website designer is surely not going to know what you’d like? Because it’s not his website, it’s yours. And your website should depend on the things that we have just talked about, knowing who the core customer is, and what is it that they want.
[10:40] Now, on the flip side, you can also choose from ready made ecommerce platforms. And the benefit here is that they’ve already done all the heavy lifting, they figured out what are the things and features that you would need the most as you get started on this journey, and they’ve already accounted for that. So here, the analogy would be, it’s like moving into a unfurnished apartment, everything is already done, the house is ready, the foundations are ready, the walls are up the kitchens ready, all you need to do is come in, paint the walls, arrange the furniture the way you like it, and then hang your clothes or your products ready to sell. Here, the big advantage is cost, you’re not going to spend a lot of time or money in getting this ready. In fact, you could have everything up and running in a matter of few weeks, especially in 2021.
[11:27] The platforms are really easy to get started with. In fact, in some cases, you may not even need a outside person to come help because you can literally do everything yourself. And that brings us to step number five, what are the platforms that are available to you to choose from? Again, there’s a few options. And I’d like to make this as easy as possible for you. The first one is something like Squarespace or Wix. These are your entry to e commerce platforms. Typically, these are also blogging platforms, and they have some level of e commerce adaptability in them. And a lot of business owners that I see these days are choosing these systems. They’re great, they’re cheap, and they can get you up and running in a matter of a week or two, not even months. However, the downside with something like Squarespace or Wix is they’re not really ecommerce platforms, they’ve never started out and they don’t intend to be full functioning full featured e commerce platforms. In fact, they’re more a hybrid between somebody wanting a simple website, together with a bit of a blog. And then also some level of e commerce. This is great if you’re just offering a very limited number of skews and want something very simple in place to get you started or to get you to tide over till your actual ecommerce website goes live.
[12:39] The second option available to you is to use bona fide e commerce platforms like Shopify or big commerce. These are great because as I mentioned earlier, these guys have figured out what you need in terms of e commerce, everything that you need to start selling is already designed for and accounted for. So you’ve got very, very little things to do in terms of getting ready for ecommerce. And these are great because you pay a subscription every month, and you’re off to the races. What you don’t get in something like Shopify and bigcommerce is the ability to customize infinitely. And my opinion here is that if you’re just starting out with e commerce, you’re going to want to learn first of all, what is it that you desire, and then come back and fix it. So getting started with something like this is a great way to go. Option number three is using a little more horsepower in something like WooCommerce WooCommerce is a ecommerce platform that was built on top of WordPress and WordPress, if you don’t know already powers almost 30% of today’s websites WooCommerce and WordPress are very, very popular choices when it comes to building websites because it’s open source, which means you don’t have to pay any fees. And it’s relatively easy because everybody’s done all the heavy lifting for you already. And you literally just have to pick and choose the modules you’d like and then build it into your website. I put this in option number three because this is a little more complicated than building something in in Shopify or bigcommerce.
[14:04] Here, you’ve got the foundation that is ready, but you don’t necessarily have the house up yet. You’ve got a great place to start, but you’ve still got to do a lot of the building yourself and a good designer will definitely be able to help. In fact, there are amazing WooCommerce designers out in the world today, just because the platform is so popular. Option number four is something like Magento and Magento is like the Ferrari of e commerce platforms. It is a fantastic ecommerce platform, full featured very robust, used by the likes of Under Armour and Nike. But when it comes to using Magento remember, it’s a really complicated machine. There’s a lot that you need to figure out in addition to not only building but also how you would use this platform on an everyday basis. So you probably will need a full time resource that is on your side, helping you run this on a day to day The basis because this platform needs a lot of tender loving care, it needs to be updated regularly, it needs to be kept fresh, often, as well as patches need to be identified and resolved, ASAP because these are open bugs. And there’s a lot of them when you’re talking about a platform that is this feature rich. So there you have it, folks, four different options when it comes to choosing your ecommerce platform. And before we go to step number six, there’s a few things that I want to share with you in terms of creating a great looking ecommerce website. And it usually isn’t as complex as you might think it is. So there’s a few things that I want to give you so that you can keep them in the back of your head.
[15:38] First one is good design, it’s the most obvious, but also the one that is very quickly forgotten as you start to build your website. ecommerce websites in very quickly become very cluttered and very complex to navigate. So having a idea in terms of simplicity, where it is aesthetically beautiful, but also a joy to use is all part of good design. And a second part of that is mobile friendliness. Although this isn’t as much of a problem these days as it used to be before. But make sure your website is mobile friendly because most searches most website transactions these days happen on iPhones, and mobile devices as well as tablet devices like iPads. So make sure that your website is fully tested for mobile responsiveness. The other thing that I also want to mention in here under good design is high quality images. A lot of times the website itself may not be pretty looking. But if the images are of high quality, it will retain your customer for a much longer period of time. Another thing to remember is an intuitive checkout experience. We talked about payment processing and self hosted versus third party hosted payment pages. But make sure that the entire checkout experience from start to finish is a very pleasant experience.
[16:51] It’s a very simple experience. And so that it can make your customer move through these steps very, very quickly. And I want to wrap all of this up in an acronym that we’ve all heard about. Keep it simple, stupid. We’ve all heard this acronym before kiss, keep it simple, silly. There are multiple other versions of this. But I’d like to use this one here, make sure it isn’t complex, make sure that you’ve kept it as simple as possible. And at the risk of giving too much information to your customer, make sure you are able to split out the various pieces of information into different pages if you have to. And a good case study in here is a website like Amazon, Amazon’s one of the most complex websites in the world.
[17:33] But if you were to have a look at it, they’ve tried to keep many, many things really simple, and move the customer as quickly as possible from one step to another. Now, once you’ve decided what ecommerce platform, we’re gonna get into step number six, which is online payments, you’ve got your beautiful ecommerce website ready and now you’re ready to start selling, there’s one more thing that you need to do, which is be able to collect money from your customers. And you do this through payment processors. Just because you have an e commerce website, doesn’t mean you’re going to be able to collect money from your customers using their cards, you need to plug in something called a payment processor or a payment channel. And here in the UAE, there’s many many options for you to choose from. You’ve got companies like teller TLR, you’ve got companies like Payfort, p a y f o r t, which is now owned by Amazon, you’ve got companies like pay tab. All of these offer you the ability to collect money from your customers using their payment technologies. You can connect these payment processors to your websites, either using an already made integration or have your website designer custom integrate that for you.
[18:38] But once you have these plugged in, you’re now able to collect money from your customers. So how do these payment processors actually work? At its simplest level, you’ve got money being collected from your customer through your payment processor, which is then deposited into your merchant bank account, your merchant bank account may or may not be different from your business account. And of course, a lot more paperwork. But make sure that you have a merchant account set up as you start to approach different payment processors because that’s the first thing they need to see that you have up and running. Now when the merchant account has been connected to your payment processor, what typically happens is the payment is collected either on what they call a self hosted payment page or a third party hosted payment page. The self hosted payment page refers to the payment system being built inside your website.
[19:26] And again, your payment processor will give you all the options. To do that, if that’s what you want to do. Or you can simply depend on a third party hosted payment page which basically means that as a transaction has been completed, the customer is going to be redirected to a payment page that has already been set up for your company. And once that payment is complete, the customer will then be redirected back. Third party hosted payment pages are the most common options to choose from because everything has already been done and literally very little work for you to do. Why would you choose a self hosted payment page? That would depend on how much customization you want in that page. So in terms of branding, colors, logos, and also some other texts that you’d like to see, are usually the cases, when you’re going to use a self hosted payment page. Obviously, the complexity is a lot more higher. But again, like I mentioned earlier, building something of your own, gives you a lot more customization options. In this case, however, it’s not a big deal if you don’t end up going this route. Like I said, third party hosted payment pages are the most common options and easiest options to work with.
[20:33] And that’s step number six, on how to make sure you’re ready for payment collection on your website. And finally, step number seven is tying online and offline together. So we spent the last few steps talking about building an e commerce website. But what if you already have a retail store or a physical store that you have set up prior to setting up your e commerce or what if you’re thinking about going forward with a physical store in the future, as I mentioned, at the very beginning of this episode, figuring out what your e commerce strategy looks like, and how that ties into your overall business strategy is very, very key. And this is a very good example of that.
[21:11] Being able to understand how the two are going to work together is very important for your e commerce success. In fact, it’s very important for your business success, because these days, it’s all about selling omni channel. And what I mean by omni channel is a business that sells on multiple channels, but it treats its customer across these channels as one as opposed to having different customer records for the same customer in different systems. So omni channel is a really, really advanced version of selling across multiple channels, but appearing as one channel and that’s usually compared to multi channel, which is the option that we’ve been talking about so far. omni channel, as I mentioned, is a lot more complex and usually is a migration or a progression from once you get started selling online, we’re not necessarily talking about omni channel in this episode.
[21:59] However, I just want you to be aware that omni channel is really the direction most ecommerce businesses are already heading into. And again, technology plays a very, very key role in how successful you are at omni channel. But all the things that we have talked about today do play a very important role in setting up yourself for success in omni channel. And that’s probably a topic for another episode. But in here, the other thing that I need for you to understand also how you can leverage online and offline. There was this really good documentary that I watched a few days ago called Netflix versus the world. And that documentary, I realized how blockbuster the biggest competitor, Netflix actually launched its own Netflix kind of subscription, but they were leveraging their physical stores. As a very big part of that subscription business. You could technically rent a video or DVD online, but then go back into the store and change for a new one, which Netflix couldn’t do because Netflix never had physical presence.
[22:57] And that’s a really good way to understand how you can leverage your physical store, in addition to your online store. So stuff like order online, pick up in store or order online exchange in store are great examples of how you can mesh these two and become really, really good at working your way towards omni channel. The other thing also is endless aisles. It’s a term that I picked up recently in where why your customer is shopping in store, you may be able to direct them to an iPad that is connected to your website so that they can shop directly on your website while they’re in your store without talking to a physical cashier, which can really help speed up the checkout process for customers that are in store as well. So how you can connect offline and online together is a very big part of this process as you start moving forward with your own e commerce strategy. I hope this has been helpful. And I hope that you enjoy these seven steps that I’ve laid out for you as a guide to getting started with selling everywhere. So let me do a quick recap for you. We started with step number one, which is figuring out your e commerce strategy and how that fits into your overall business strategy. The second step is figuring out your feature list. What is it that you’d like to offer on your e commerce website? Who would you like to offer it to? What is the core customer look like?
[24:18] And what is their pain look like that you can effectively solve through your website. Step number three was taking that and then converting that into a wireframe, which can be done through a UI or UX user interface or a user experience designer, which is basically putting together a reference design before you even start building the website. Step number four was figuring out if you’d like to build your own website platform or choose some options of ready made platforms. Step number five was what are the ready made options that are available to you today in 2021 as you get started with building your e commerce website, and some of the pros and cons of each step number six walked you through the payment processing Option, why and how you can get started with payments on your website. And finally, tying online and offline together. I hope this has been really helpful. I hope you enjoy this episode. I’m so excited for the remainder of the retail entrepreneur series that is coming out soon.
[25:15] Stay tuned, you’d get to hear some amazing stories from some amazing entrepreneurs. Thank you so much for staying with me till the very end of the episode, you’ve done it. I’ve got three specific asks for you only if you think that this podcast is worthy of your support. And if you’ve enjoyed the content, my first request is for you to hit the subscribe button. Actually smash that subscribe button so that you can get notified when new episodes come your way. Or if you haven’t already, head on over to elevated entrepreneur.fm and subscribe to the podcast on the website so that new episodes are emailed to you right away.
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