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Top Business Survival Tips for Entrepreneurs

Plenty of businesses struggle in their first year. So, you probably won’t be too surprised to learn that 20% of them don’t make it past that initial twelve months. Whether they try to keep things afloat by filing for voluntary administration or they have no choice but to go into liquidation. Unfortunately, there are plenty of startups that never quite make it off the ground.

And, seeing as times are tougher than usual at the moment, it’s more important than ever to ensure the survival of your business. Here’s how.

Start strong

If you want to future-proof your business, you have to start out strong. Fail to build a good foundation, and you’re immediately setting yourself up for a fall.

From the outset, set ambitious but attainable goals, and make sure you have everything you need to achieve them. That doesn’t just mean the products you sell or the location out of which you operate. To hit (and maybe even surpass) your targets, you should also consider working with an accountant and a business lawyer who can help you lay the groundwork for sustainable and consistent growth.

Plan ahead

It’s similarly important to plan ahead when setting up a business. Far too many entrepreneurs realize they’ve hit their initial targets and have nowhere left to go. But, there just isn’t much point in getting yourself properly established if you have no plans to get past the first stages. 

If you want your business to succeed, you’ll need long-term goals and a selling point that will continue to attract customers for years to come. You should also try to be savvy with your money, particularly in your first year. The future of a new business is never certain, so aim to only invest in ways that will help you last and expand.  

Look after your finances

Running out of money is one of the main reasons startup companies fail, so effective financial planning is crucial to sustained success. As such, beyond just being sensible with your money in the early days, it’s also a good idea to always keep funds aside. You never know when an emergency might hit and cause lasting damage, so have an emergency pot that you only dip into when times are really tough.

The events of 2020 were entirely unprecedented, and even companies that were doing well collapsed under the strain. Being smart with your money will help you avoid a similar fate.

Build a network

Even if you’re a solopreneur, you’ll need to have good connections. You might be running your business on your own, but you’ll still have to work with other people if you want to get your hands on necessary resources such as merchandise and production equipment. If you develop good relationships with these people, you might just get better deals. 

Building connections with other business owners in your niche or local area can be really beneficial, too. For one thing, they’ll have useful insights that could help you avoid making rookie mistakes. Plus, you never know when an opportunity for collaboration might present itself further down the line.

Put your customers first

So, you’ve got everything you need to start trading. Now, it’s time to think about your customers. Remember that these are the people who will assure the long-term success of your business. If you don’t target them effectively or convince them to buy into what you’re selling, then your business is all too likely to be short-lived.

You need to think about exactly who your ideal customer is. Ask yourself what age they are, what job they do, where they live, and other such questions. You can also send out surveys to your target clients to make sure your offers speak to exactly what they want and give value in ways that other companies don’t.

Work with a team

Business owners who hire employees need to learn how to work with them productively. However, this can be difficult for entrepreneurs who are used to handling everything on their own.

 While you might feel protective over the different processes involved in running your business, it’s essential to recognize that you can’t always do everything by yourself. If you find that you have too much to do or decide you want to start expanding your operations, you should consider taking on people who can handle the things you don’t have time for.

While managing the products and dealing with suppliers might be your priority, that’s no reason for your marketing or customer service to fall by the wayside.

Reverse Engineering Ecommerce Products to Improve Conversion Rates

Reverse Enginnering E-Commerce Conversions

LeadG2 defines reverse engineering as “the process of working backwards from the conclusion of something to understand how that end point was reached.”

Applied to ecommerce, reverse engineering can mean starting with your end goals (ex., improve conversion rates and increase profits), then figuring out how to choose products that will allow you to reach these targets.

Why You Must Carefully Choose Your Ecommerce Products

Your product line up influences every aspect of your online business, from branding and marketing to fulfillment.

  • Branding: The products you sell will influence the colors and visuals you choose to represent your brand.
  • Marketing: Your choice of advertising channels, the design and messaging in your marketing materials also depends on your target customers and products.
  • Ecommerce fulfillment: Your packaging, storage, and shipping options and costs will vary depending on what you’re selling. Heavier, bulkier items, for instance, will skyrocket shipping and warehousing costs. Products with shorter shelf lives like perishable foods may also have specific storage requirements.
  • Other considerations: Some products may have shipping restrictions, legal requirements, and additional taxes that can affect how you market, handle, or price your products.

All these can make or break your online business’s profitability.

If you already have a successful online store, reverse engineering helps you pick the right products that:

  • have a sizable market or demand,
  • are profitable,
  • suitable for your target buyer or niche, and
  • fit your preferred fulfillment strategy.

Reverse engineering can improve conversion rates, as you are able to offer new products that cater to the needs or preferences of your current audience. Since existing customers already trust your brand and like your products, they are more likely to try your new offers. They may even decide to order these new items on top of their current subscriptions.

But how do you reverse engineer excellent ecommerce products? Below are 15 questions you should ask when screening potential items for your online store.

Reverse Engineering the Best Ecommerce Products for Your Online Store

1. What is its potential market size?

Pick products that have a significant market size in your target location. You can pick items that cater to people within a specific age bracket, income, gender, or niche.

Make sure that your target audience actually buys the product, i.e., there is an actual market demand for it. You can use tools like sales estimators to get more information on an item’s monthly sales volume. From here you can already decide if you need to drop the product (if it doesn’t generate enough sales) or study it further.

2. Is it sustainable?

It’s tempting to offer trending items, but if you’re after long-term growth, skip the fads. Focus on products that have seen increasing demand over the years. Google Trends, SEO tools, and social media are excellent places for checking whether searches for a popular product are increasing (indicating a growing market) or dropping.

3. How do you position yourself against your main competitors?

Having strong competition can be a good thing. It can indicate that there’s a significant demand for your chosen product.

But to carve out a share of the market, you must carefully position yourself against your main competitors. Analyze their strengths, weaknesses, marketing strategy, and target buyers. Find ways to stand out and differentiate your brand and offers.

4. Does it match your store’s target buyers?

When screening potential products, focus on items within your niche or those that appeal to your existing buyers. Aside from potentially increasing your conversions and sales, this helps simplify your marketing plans. You can use the same tone and advertising channels to promote your new products.

In contrast, offering new items to a different demographic requires you to adapt a different writing tone and promotional strategy. For example, if you’re marketing to seniors, you need to use language and images they can relate with. Since they’re not always online, you need multi-channel marketing to ensure you’re targeting them both online and offline.

Meanwhile, marketing to millennials requires a different strategy, given their digital habits and busy schedules. To catch their attention, you must be present on different social media platforms and leverage video marketing. You must adopt a mobile-first strategy too, as 93% of millennials own smartphones, with 19% being smartphone-only internet users.

5. Does the product have limited local availability?

Skip products which buyers can easily find in local physical stores. Instead, identify specialty items that have significant demand across different locations. Some examples are doll clothing, specialty oils, handmade pottery, and costume stores.

By selling specialty products online, you are making these easily available to buyers who may otherwise have to travel further to purchase these items. At the same time, you’re able to reach more customers than if you’re only running one or a few physical stores.

6. Can you begin with a few stock keeping units (SKUs)?

Whether you’re targeting the same demographics or a new market segment, you want to be able to test a product’s viability while keeping outlay costs to a minimum. Choosing a product with over 30 varied sizes and designs will only increase your initial investments on stocks and storage. This puts you in a risky position, since you are spending a lot for a product you’re not yet sure will generate profits.

Adding items with less SKUs have other long-term advantages. It keeps inventory management simple and you are able to stock more items of each variation instead of ordering a few of several units.

It also minimizes mistakes during fulfillment. With limited product SKUs, your clients are less likely to receive wrong sizes or variations. This saves you from dealing with more product returns and exchanges, buyer complaints, and poor reviews and customer experience.

Offering limited SKUs can also increase your sales. Remember that giving buyers too many options can work against you. Trying to pick from many variations can overwhelm your audience, and cause them to leave your site without buying anything. So simplify your customers’ buying process by offering less product variations.

7. Can you get a good markup?

Look for items which offer an attractive markup. To do this, compare its market price with the total costs you may incur, including:

  • manufacturing (or dropshipping) costs
  • packaging
  • order fulfillment (such as storage and shipping)
  • domain, marketing, customer support, and other fees to run an ecommerce business.

Some recommend going for products with at least five times markup; others recommend an average 50% markup.

8. How long is its shelf life?

Look for products that remain salable for a long time. This spares you from the cost of obsolete inventory or having to buy then re-market new variations.

Better yet, find potential products that are both consumable and have a long storage life. Selling consumables, coupled with great customer experience, enables you to have clients who will keep ordering from you whenever they need to replace or replenish an item.

9. What is its selling price?

Selling low-cost items means you need to reach more clients and move more stocks each month to reach your target profit. On the other hand, selling high-ticket items may mean you need to move less products to earn profits. However, customers may have more questions before buying expensive items. This may require you to put in more time answering inquiries and building your brand to win your target market’s trust.

Ideally, you want to find products you can sell for less than $150, or within the average online shopping order value. This way, you don’t have to move too many items just to generate some profit. At the same time, your items are not priced beyond what customers may be comfortable spending online.

10. What are the fulfillment requirements?

Selling perishable items requires more fulfillment considerations. These may need special packaging, handling, storage, and transportation requirements.

Before adding perishables to your inventory, calculate these additional warehousing and shipping fees. If you need to increase the selling price, be sure you’re not pricing yourself out of the market.

11. Can it encourage subscriptions?

It’s a lot easier and cheaper to market to existing customers than to acquire new buyers. And one way to leverage your existing clients or increase recurring sales is through subscriptions.

Subscriptions often come in the form of replenishments, wherein clients buy products they’ve already consumed or need to replace. Some products that fit replenishment subscriptions are razors and groceries.

Another subscription model you can consider are discovery boxes. Discovery subscriptions include new items or samples of different products. These allow buyers to receive fresh items regularly, or try out products before buying full-size or higher quantities. Discovery subscriptions can work on toys, coffee, wine, and beauty products.

12. How fragile is it?

Evaluate the risks and costs of adding fragile items to your catalogs. Fragile products may require special packaging and more care during transport. You can also incur higher costs due to breakage and replacements. Aside from lowering your profits, these factors can hurt your customers’ experience and product ratings.

13. What is the product’s size and weight?

Adding bulky, heavy products to your online store increases your expenses. Aside from higher warehousing costs, these are also more expensive to ship. You need to factor these in when computing your selling price and markup, especially if you’re offering free shipping.

Note that high shipping costs can also hurt your conversion rates. The Baymard Institute found that 50% of respondents abandoned their shopping carts due to high additional costs like shipping, taxes, and other fees.

14. Does it have a seasonal market?

Selling products with seasonal demand such as winter or summer wear has implications on your online store’s viability. So you need to plan ahead for both peak demand and drops in your sales.

One solution is to identify products that sell well each season. You can also maintain core products that generate sales throughout the year, then offer seasonal items. For instance, your online store may focus on casual clothing, but offer winter or Christmas clothes toward the end of each year.

15. Is it subject to legal restrictions?

Legal regulations and shipping restrictions affect how you promote, transport, and store your products. These can increase your outlay, delay fulfillment, and even limit your target market. For example, perfumes with alcohol and certain types of glue and nail polish can only be shipped via ground transportation.

So carefully research your potential product. Consult relevant government offices, your fulfillment company, and suppliers so you can factor in these restrictions’ financial and logistical implications.

Improve Your Conversion Rates with the Right Ecommerce Products

Reverse engineering can help you identify the best products for your online store. Use the questions above as a guide for finding lucrative items that appeal to your target market and fit your current fulfillment process.

It may be tedious to look into all these factors each time you add a new product. But the time and effort you put in can cut your financial losses and spare you from unexpected issues down the line.

Do you have questions on fulfillment for your target product? Do you have other tips on finding the best products to sell online? Share your thoughts below.

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