Expert Author Maulik D Shah 

By Maulik D Shah

What makes an online business successful? Is it the products you sell, or their price or marketing? The ecommerce industry is continuing its fast growth and will continue to do so in the near future. But today it is is crowded with a plethora of players selling similar products and most engaged in price wars to win over customers. But deep discounts and engaging in price wars doesn't ensure long term success. Innovation in product strategy or the delivery process is key to success in this competitive industry, not discounts.

Getting back to the fundamentals of marketing i. e. focusing on the 4Ps of marketing - Product, Price, Place and Promotion can give you a starting point to build a strategy that leads you to long term ecommerce success. Here are some tips that will guide you to success.

1. Develop a USP for Your Store

The age of developing general ecommerce stores is over. That war has already been won by Amazon and the other key players. And if you want to become another Amazon or eBay, that's a guaranteed way to fail. The future of ecommerce is about specialty stores. Heavily invest in your brand which is unique & creative, and never take it easy on your lead. In this online age, it's hard to have customer loyalty.

So you need to expand your product line in your niche to stay ahead of the competition. You need to stock deep. For example if you opt for footwear as the category to specialize, stock so many varieties for footwear that even Amazon doesn't have. Become the destination for people looking to buy footwear online.

2. Choose the Right Technology Platform

Choosing the right ecommerce platform is very critical, since an ecommerce business is heavily dependent on technology. Its not just enough to have a robust and scalable ecommerce platform. Social media integration, good UI & UX, mobile friendliness, SEO, modules for content marketing and customer support have also become the fundamental needs of an online store today.

Based on these factors and the understanding of what's required to open a successful online storefront, decide which ecommerce platform will suit you best. Don't forget to factor in your business goals, budget, and technical experience also.

3. Work on Your Pricing Strategy

Your product pricing strategy may make or break your business. Do a detailed study of your competitors and their pricing and then decide your products prices (and discounts) accordingly. If you are in a very competitive category, to make an impression in the market you may have to keep your prices low initially. And to attract more customers, you can run periodic discount offers. But try to keep a balance. Don't give too much discounts otherwise customers will start expecting discounted price all the year round.

4. Understand Your Customers

Understanding your customers aids you to sell further. The more you know about their needs, the easier it is to recognize opportunities to sell them the new products and target them with suitable offers. Profiling existing customers also makes it easier to find new ones.

However, you must confirm that you act in accordance with data protection regulations for any personal information on existing and potential customers that you collect, keep and use. There are specific rules for ecommerce. Understanding your customers facilitates you in planning. You can forecast what they will buy, and guess how much stock you need. Relating customer management to purchasing can improve profitability.

5. Have the Right Online Promotion Strategy

There are several ways you can go about promoting your online store. Having a concrete promotion strategy is important to succeed in an online business. Ecommerce marketing isn't easy and requires lot of effort and work. Your ecommerce marketing should be comprised of:

PPC advertising
Email marketing
Content marketing
Social Media Marketing

Having a winning strategy for each of these online marketing tools, combined with other steps explained above will definitely take you ahead of your competitors.

6. Improve Your Brand's Credibility

Your brand's credibility is important as it results in loyal customers and repeat business. Give your customers a guarantee that your store is a good place to buy products from. Ask for testimonials and feedbacks of satisfied customers. Offer a small discount to your customers for their next order if they write a review. Integrate reviews from third party sites to your store to make the feedback look more genuine and useful. Get your website audited from trusted certification companies like VeriSign and show their certificate. Add SSL certificate to your site to make the payment process more secure.

7. Make It Easy for Customers to Buy From You

Today consumers have more places to buy from than every before. If you have an ecommerce business, and you wish for online shoppers to buy from you, you have to attract their attention - and make their shopping experience satisfying and easy.

There are various ways to do this - make sure that your site loads rapidly; make your navigation intuitive; display customer reviews prominently etc. Apart from this, you can remove the requirement of creating an account. Also make sure that your default shipping option is pocket friendly. You should also contain various payment options like credit card, debit card, mobile wallets and net banking.

8. Keep Functionality in Mind

When it comes to functionality and speed, bounce rates and shopping cart abandonment are directly connected to your website performance. The slower your store functions, the less money you will make.

The other feature of functionality is navigation. Formulate it as user-friendly. Often, this comprises of categories list, a well-organized header and footer. You may also need to append a search field and site map on the homepage of your store. This will assist your shoppers to search exactly what they are looking for within seconds.

Mr. Maulik Shah is the founder and CEO of Biztech Consultancy, an IT services provider based in India, specializing in providing ecommerce development solutions, CRM and ERP solutions for SMBs and enterprises.

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Affiliate marketing is the application of promoting products and services for companies and earning a commission from the sales. It is generally done through the Internet as an online business opportunity. Affiliate marketing is a great way for big e-commerce companies to find a possible sales force by paying only a small commission essentially with no other overhead costs. It would definitely benefit the e-commerce company as well as the affiliate. With the growth of the Internet, it has been made possible for the product owner and the affiliate to work with a better understanding of a common goal of improving sales for the company.

Starting an affiliate marketing business is very much the same as starting an offline brick and mortar business. Perseverance is absolutely the key to success in both of these endeavors. One of the obvious differences is that, affiliate marketing can be started on a small budge, whereas an offline business endeavor needs much more capital as start-up money.

The main reason most people fail in affiliate marketing is because they do not stick to one proven method. They go after every shiny object advertised on the Internet. This diversion is what makes most affiliates quit this potentially successful business model before they even give it a fair try. If you want to be successful in affiliate marketing, you need to find something that is working and stick with it until your desired results are achieved.

When you start making some money from your current project, you can easily scale it up for better profits. Keep in mind, you should not change your business model until you are an expert with one method. If you stick to this standard you will be able to find success in the affiliate market a lot sooner than most of the newbies that are getting into affiliate marketing and quitting halfway through.

Below is an overview list of the basics of affiliate marketing.

1. Research what people are looking for on the internet and find a product or service to match that niche. If you do not do your homework, you will be wasting plenty of money and time on what does not sell. There are plenty of free online tools you can use in order to do this successfully. Google has a free keyword research tool solely built for this reason.

2. Find companies that are trustworthy and pay the maximum amount of commissions per sale. Look for products that will offer quality and value to the customer. Do not promote garbage products even if the commission is high, as this will definitely be short-term. The customer is very smart and will not be easily cheated.

3. Create a website or free blog and offer valuable information about the product or service that you are promoting. Do not try to oversell the product as this will surely backfire on you. The vendor's website will do all the selling for you. You only need to give honest information about the product or service. Remember, you want to offer quality content to the customer.

4. Drive traffic to your website or blog by being active on forums relevant to your niche. You can use social media profiles to interact with people who have similar interests and promote your website to them.

These four points are some of the basics of affiliate marketing. If you are able to master them, you could be highly successful in your affiliate marketing venture.

This article was written by Rachel E. Spencer. If you would like to learn more about affiliate marketing and how to get started go to

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