This article is contributed by Mr. Raj Rana, CEO & Co- Founder, Sexy Beast. With over 50 years of combined experience in manufacturing, Sexy Beast designs, manufactures and markets leisurewear, loungewear, & underwear via eCommerce.
So you have a great idea that nobody has thought of and you’re convinced that it’s going to succeed. What could possibly be so difficult? My idea is so good that it will just sell itself, right?
Deep into my 4th business venture, I can say with some degree of confidence and without those funky rose-tinted glasses that it’s anything but easy. In fact, it’s a HUGE gamble and unless you are going to wake up every day and slog it out, my advice would be to stick to the day job!
Let’s take a look at this in more detail and discuss the things you need to get right with your eCommerce venture.
People - You are not going to be capable of doing everything, so you need a good team. Jim Collins was spot on when he talked about getting “the right people on the bus” before planning where to go. How many of you actually practice this?
Communication - Are you utilizing technology to your advantage so there Is transparency with all team members in the office? Are you allowing your team to speak freely? Information needs to flow with ease and without fear of recrimination.
Culture - The last sentence above will only happen if the culture within the company lets it. Every company has its own culture. How you define and practice yours will shape your brand and company.
Cashflow - Maintaining a healthy cash flow will mean that you will be able to run everyday operations without struggling to pay your team and 3rd party partners. You may on paper have great margins and show healthy sales, but if the balance of money coming in and out is not looked at with laser detail, you are destined to fail.
Personality - Your brand personality will be critical in deciding how you are perceived by the customer. This needs to be on point, in sync, and consistent with the products and product designs.
User Experience - Too many clicks and you lose your customer to boredom. Too cluttered and they get confused. Too difficult to find what they want and they get frustrated. You get the gist. Make a site with all this in mind.
Content (Photography, Videos, Copy) - Your customers cannot smell or feel your product, so they are only relying on what you (or others) say and what they see and hear. So make the imagery, videos, and sound epic! Do your product pages have enough to want to make a person buy?
Customizations - A store today is not just a checkout process for your customer. It’s much more. Do you have a Customer Loyalty program? Is your Customer Review system set up? Do you have pop-ups sorted? Do you have your Pixels and Tags all set up properly? Do you have your Analytics in place? Get started with these.
Sampling - Sampling different versions of your product to customers is something needed to vet your idea. What may seem like a kick-ass product to you may not be to others. Remember those rose-tinted glasses?
Design and Development - A solid design and development team for innovation cannot be ignored. Sexy Beast has gone through several iterations of its products based on customer feedback and internal testing. The product life cycle goes way beyond launch. Just ask Zuckerberg!
Inventory Strategy - Considered by many the primary reason that eCommerce platforms fail. If you don’t know when and how much to replenish you could find yourself in a pickle. Inventory is your largest cost, so you need to be lean. Did anyone hear of ABC Analysis?
Packaging - You’ve heard the phrase that first impressions last. Well to some extent your packaging is that first impression. Does packaging reflect your brand? Is it sustainable? Do you use plastic? All to be considered given what we are seeing around us happening.
Shipping and Returns - Your shipping partner needs to integrate into your store. There needs to be a seamless and quick process for deliveries and most importantly returns. The average return rate for goods is anywhere between 15-30% of your sales. The lower this is the better. That’s a lot of communication with the customer to manage (see CRM below). The Returns team ideally should be separate. This was one of the first teams Sexy Beast set up.
5. Customer Relationship Management & Online Reputation Management
Customer Experience Team - This is the first team Sexy Beast set up. Think of your Customer Experience team as the flagbearer of your brand to the customer. They need to be tuned into your brand promise, your messaging, your products, your tone, your culture (yes this is not just an internal thing). All these VERY important aspects of your brand need to be conveyed to the customer when talking to them.
Do you have an omnichannel platform with multiple agents accessing it? Do you have consistent messaging for common questions and queries? Are you able to meet a 1 hour response time to all queries? This and many other things help cement trust between your customer and brand. This trust, in the long run, is what will convert and retain your customers.
Price Per Click (PPC) Strategy - Before you start any advertising, your store needs to be configured to be able to collect data for the Ads. This is done by placing pixel codes and various tags within the code on your site.
FB and Instagram Ad Manager, Google Ads, Google Merchant Centre, Google Tag Manager, Google Analytics - not got any of this setup, or is this the first time you’re hearing about them? Get yourself on a quick crash course now! I cannot overstate the importance of knowing how they all relate to each other, and how it impacts your store's success.
SEO, SEM - As well as paying for customers, you also want them to find you when they search for products on Google. Your store needs to be technically configured for this. You need to decide which keywords you want them to find you with and then you need to start optimizing for those keywords. This is not an overnight process, so start it early.
Social Media - As you are more than aware, these days everyone shops or vets products based on your social media presence and what others are saying. Get a clear strategy on how you want to grow your audience. Do not think that buying audiences and likes will get your sales. Stay away from that and build your following organically.
Collaborations - What people say about you matters. Especially so if the people saying it has a big influence on your audience. Collaborations must therefore be relevant.
A solid plan for collaborating with Influencers (Blogs and Instagram) is needed for social proof of your product and brand. Customers actively look for this before making a decision to buy.
PR - Finally your product at some point should get picked up by online and offline media whether through paid or organic routes to generate good leads, attract investors, recruit good talent and retain existing talent!
Sexy Beast believes if the strategies above are followed, most businesses will increase their odds of staying clear of the 90% of startups that fail within 5 years!
About Sexy Beast
Sexy Beast designs, manufactures, and markets leisurewear, loungewear, and underwear via eCommerce. The brand's mission is to inspire confidence and self-belief through products that are obsessive about quality, design and comfort. The brand designs their own prints and stitches their own products to make sure customers get something original and special. The products are crafted with the latest technologies, fabric, and knowledge and fulfill the promise of delivering international standards. Sexy Beast has over 50 years of combined experience in manufacturing.