In the last few years, a variety of factors have interlaced to cause a huge upsurge in online retail activity. A recent study revealed that, while the number had fallen slightly since the height of the 2019 COVID pandemic, 25.3% of all UK retail sales were made online, creating an industry worth over $120 billion.
Capitalising on this increasing trend can be extremely lucrative, especially when using experienced guidance from e-commerce experts and e-commerce fulfilment providers. This blog will take you through why now is the best time to start and grow an e-commerce business and what you need to do to find your stride.
E-commerce is fueled by pandemic and technology
The immediate reason for the growth of the e-commerce sector in the last few years has been the COVID-19 pandemic. With lots of people stuck at home with little to do except online shopping, numbers and sales skyrocketed. Furthermore, the inability to shop by either means caused more people to become online shoppers, increasing the outreach of all e-commerce businesses to consumers they had not reached before.
More long-term trends can also explain the increase in online retail sales. Wider use of new technology over the last ten years has made online shopping quicker, simpler and more efficient for customers, and they have responded by increasing their use of the service. More and more things can now be purchased online, from your weekly groceries to specialist equipment, and it can be done by merely speaking the command to new voice assistant technology.
In addition, online retail activity is on the upswing as more shoppers want to pay for products with cryptocurrency. The expansive adoption of crypto is afoot in brick-and-mortar stores and e-commerce, but online stores are historically better at acting upon trends. They start accepting cryptocurrency as a payment method faster than physical locations, getting people to shop in a more secure and convenient way.
The good news for everyone in e-commerce is that this upward trend seems to be set in stone. It seems highly likely that as we develop better technology for e-commerce, more people will use online retail, and the amount of money spent online will only increase.
Starting or growing your e-commerce business now is thus an excellent idea – but how do you do so? Below are some top tips from our e-commerce and UK fulfilment experts.
Top tips for your e-commerce business
You can’t make a beeline for e-commerce without proper research. There are a ton of things you should figure out before starting an online store and even more things you should master after launching it. From what your store and logo will look like to how you will source your products and get them to buyers with a fulfilment provider or on your own, get ready for the days of hard thinking, brainstorming and planning.
Here’s where you want to start your thinking journey to get into e-commerce.
Find your products to sell
You aren’t going to make money out of thin air. Finding a product to sell is the first thing you need to do, even though it’s difficult to get right.
Balancing sustainability with profitability is important here. For instance, selling gym wear in January might be more profitable as people try to maintain their New Year’s resolutions, but sales are likely to decrease after that period. To be sustainable and profitable, your product should have lasting significance, be available for a high markup and be unique enough not to be drowned out by competitors.
Some tips for your product ideas:
- Think of what you love and turn it into your products to sell
- Keep track of marketplace trends and popular hobbies in the territory you sell to
- Create something unique, custom-made or hand-made on your own
- Analyse shoppers’ pet peeves and help them overcome them with your products
Source your products
Unless you are passionate about crafting things with your hands, you will need to find a manufacturer or supplier to turn your product ideas into palpable goods. This can be done by:
- Searching online
- Using your existing connections
- Paging through directories
Focus on product quality and payment terms here. A UK manufacturer will often set higher costs than Chinese factories, but the quality of your products will likely be better. However, your best option should be evaluated depending on the type of your products, business plan and e-commerce demand.
Market your product effectively
Many retailers likely sell your product in some form. Marketing your product to the people who are most likely to buy it is thus vital to ensure they buy your product rather than your competitors’. To do this, you should:
- Target marketing to certain areas or demographics where you are confident your product will sell
- Focus on what makes your product unique and useful to the customer
- Balance online and offline marketing strategies to get more eyeballs on your product
Doing this will require some research, but it’s well worth the effort in the long run.
Find the right fulfilment services for small businesses in the UK
As you start selling your product, the complexity of managing your inventory and orders will increase greatly. Since these two aspects of an e-commerce business are some of the most important and time-consuming, many British stores use order fulfilment services in the UK to manage these processes for them.
When researching your fulfilment partner options, you should:
- Make sure their range of services is extensive enough for your products and orders
- Learn what territories they cover for fulfilment
- Find out whether they provide any marketplace-specific services, like FBA inspections
- Go over their fulfilment services pricing for UK or foreign e-commerce businesses, including product inspection and warehousing charges
Fulfilment houses like Minatus are experts in receiving, handling and dispatching your products, as well as in managing inventory levels and helping with customer support. Using a UK fulfilment house can unlock the true potential of your business by streamlining the ordering and inventory process in the hands of experts, leaving you to focus on what you do best – growing your business and making a profit!