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Why? As stated by AcquireConvert, From 2020 to 2021, eCommerce sales are expected to rise 33%. And, “By 2021, global eCommerce is forecast to be $4.97 trillion – almost a 400% increase in seven years.”
Meaning, the eCommerce space is still booming, and it’s not slowing down. It can be alarming to new entrants when so many people are rushing into a given category, but that doesn’t mean more opportunity isn’t present. In fact, there is “space” for everyone, because almost all brick and mortar businesses can eventually be taken online. And there are countless niches yet to migrate to digital selling.
Being a four-time digital entrepreneur, and having run over 150 marketing campaigns for clients ranging from Billie Eilish to Mark Cuban’s Prep Expert, to the famed app TikTok, I’ve seen a large range of businesses, marketing campaigns, and sales data. Here’s where that data is pointing.
Evaluating Your Options for Starting an Online Business
At the end of the day, most of us are shooting for financial and time freedom. That’s why eCommerce is so attractive, compared to a brick-and-mortar business. You can run your online store from anywhere, on your time.
The most popular eCommerce platforms continue to be Shopify, Amazon, and now Walmart Seller platform. Trailing behind are WordPress, WooCommerce, Webflow, Squarespace, and a handful of others.
Shopify remains the preferred platform for brands. If you are looking to start a long-term business, say five years plus, Shopify is the best option. It takes a long time to build a legitimate brand, to gain trust from your customers, and for them to spread your message organically. Your store starts with zero traffic, and you must do all your own marketing. However, brands always take home the most margin and have incredible scalability once profitable, thanks to Facebook, Instagram, and Youtube ads.
Amazon Seller Central is the most popular. Amazon is also good for brands, but has much slimmer margins, difficult compliance measures, and requires a lot of platform-expertise. To experience strong, consistent growth on an Amazon Seller Store, it’s imperative you either get an expert on your side or conduct deep research into the platform. This allows you to sell in restricted categories. But, the demand and traffic are essentially endless, so the job of marketing and selling product is much easier than competing as a brand in the open market or on Facebook Ads. Countless firms specialize in building and running Amazon stores, who can handle this for you, like PushAMZ and Omnitail.
Walmart Seller is a little-known “secret,” if you will. Just like Amazon, you can sell your product there and harness the incredible traffic and demand that their online platform offers. They have the fewest sellers but are growing quickly and taking Amazon on head-first. However, Walmart doesn’t want to be Amazon. They’re avoiding the logistics game and don’t want fulfillment centers, warehouses, and trucks. They’d rather Walmart Sellers like you and me handle the job of getting products to customers expediently, in turn offering you more flexibility. Walmart may be the “blue ocean” you’re looking for.
These are the most popular and refined platforms for selling online. There are other options, like WordPress & WooCommerce, but they were adjusted to fit eCommerce post-facto, rather than designed for it initially. So they’re not as streamlined.
How To Evaluate Products, Demand, Opportunity, And Scalability
The most important step in creating your online business is selecting the right product. It is a good rule of thumb to find a very specific, highly “painful” problem and offer a direct solution to that.
However, as you know, many brands aren’t solving a problem per se, rather offering something that’s fashionable, trendy, or is a status symbol. The latter is the most difficult kind of business to make profitable because it requires years of extensive and expensive brand marketing.
Finding the right product is difficult and should not be hurried. And be wary of any product or business that you’re feeling very “passionate” about. If you’re aiming for the fastest road to profitability, find a product that solves a specific problem and is highly desirable, rather than something that “feels” like it could be a success. The more emotionally-driven products, like a pair of luxury sunglasses, are better as a brand developed over time.
A few tools that can help you quantify demand for a product you’re interested in are:
Simply enter the keywords into Google’s Keyword Tool that are related to your proposed business and see if demand is increasing and whether competition is high or low. Then, validate the relative growth over time of a new product’s demand by looking at the trendline on Google Trends.
Related: Tackling the Scalability Challenge
Choosing Your Platform
The big question: which platform should I go with? Before you dive in, think through your goals for yourself and from the store. Some questions to consider are:
What time frame am I looking to earn a profit? Amazon and Walmart are typically the fastest.
What time frame am I looking to run this store? Shopify is better for longer engagements and can eventually be sold.
Am I doing this to create a brand or movement, or simply to earn money? Shopify is better for brands, Amazon and Walmart for simple cash-in, cash-out.
How much time do I have to dedicate to this? Shopify requires the most time and effort and is a longer-tail investment. Walmart and Amazon will require less time in general due to the fact you don’t need to do as much marketing since they have traffic already.
If you chose the fastest profit and least time, Amazon and Walmart are optimal. However, they require a lot of platform expertise, meaning it may be better to hire an expert. Many Amazon Automation Agencies handle things A to Z, and you simply invest a one-time fee to build it while the agency runs it. Conversely, if you chose the branded route, Shopify is optimal.
The first step to choosing a new business to enter is with your own goals: where do I want this business to take me, and when? Then with that, you can choose the relevant platform.
If you’re doing this as a side gig, understand that it will require as much time as any other business. And no business is easy, period.
So do your homework, talk to experts and then choose a platform and stick to it. Your success is inevitable!