Anyone can launch an online business. You just need a strong passion for the niche you want to get into, a desire to keep learning and a willingness to put in 110%.
BC launches our series on looking at the spectrum of e-commerce with a first hand account by a mother of two, who wanted to do more and felt she had more to offer. E-commerce gave her the route to this personal and professional enrichment. And, she is having fun and making money!
An interest in ethnic fashion and comfortable cotton-wear fuelled a desire to pursue Akhil Kurtis. Teaching didn’t provide me with a bottomless money pit or the time to set up a retail outlet. So I listened to my fashion sense. Hey, it was fashionable to have an online site!
The process of launching an e-commerce site was daunting but we burst onto the scene with a flourish with Akhil.my, which means “to complete”in Sanskrit and Persian. Our journey, however, was dotted by struggles. On hindsight, if I had to launch my site again, I would definitely do things differently. This is how.
Social networking is integral to a website and helps boost publicity. We should have had a list of the various social media accounts needed to be set up, beforehand, but we didn’t. We waited till the last minute to sign up and set up network accounts on Twitter and Facebook. In a panic, we realized that our preferred account name for the various social media accounts may not have been available. These accounts would have given our visitors additional ways to communicate with us as soon as they arrived at our site. Having them ready before we launched would have been very important.
These social media accounts are also important to drop hints/teasers about our upcoming launches to build anticipation and hype while drawing attention to our online business. Hence, our site launch was not celebrated with as much build-up as we had hoped because our Twitter account was late to start. In our defense I can only say, we were still new and floundering in the sea of social media and the internet like amateur swimmers.
Answering the “now what” question (sub head)
The worst question to have after the launch of a site is “Now what?” Those very same words echoed through me as we didn’t have a clear goal and direction on how to follow through after the launch. The initial interest after our high-tea party started to fizzle and we were lost! Therefore, before you launch, you should know exactly how you want to proceed right after. Maybe Twitter blasts and related activities on Facebook could have helped.
Another thing I would have done differently was to pay much more attention to the technical aspects. Infact, always triple check the technical details before going live. Ensuring that early visitors will have the best possible experiences when they first arrive at our site, means that everything needs to be working correctly.
On the day of our launch, we had laptops placed at strategic locations for guests to browse our clothes. Users using the category from the sidebar links for “Sale Items” were met with a “page could not be found” error message. We had to revise the message to say “there aren’t any posts here yet so please check back soon!” This lets users know that the pages do work but that there aren’t anything in them yet. Therefore, it is important to make sure that all contact forms, email accounts, commenting systems, hyperlinks and all other things that your users will interface with work properly.
So, learn from our mistakes and don’t forget to have fun with your launch. Focus on being people-friendly and it will be amazing how your business can be both fun and rewarding, financially and personally.
The views expressed here are the personal opinion of the columnist.
Photo credit: Flickr user pitbull2013