5 Things An E-Commerce Start-Up Should Know

Gargi Banerjee

Here’s a mouthwatering fact that potential e-commerce players should know – industry reports claim the domestic market for e-commerce, which stands at $10 billion today, can burgeon to anything between $125 billion and $260 billion by the year 2025.

Yes, the great Indian middle class has taken to online shopping like fish to water, what with Internet access getting cheaper and easier. Already, Tier II cities contribute 57 per cent to the total revenues in this space and market pundits believe there are 75 million households that are likely to take to e-commerce in the near term.

Not surprisingly, e-commerce is touted as a sunshine sector and almost every aspiring entrepreneur today wants a share of this pie.

But while selling online seems easy and exciting, beginners often make some basic mistakes while constructing their e-commerce websites and this may kill business before it takes off! So here are a few tips to remember if you’re planning to launch an e-commerce venture.

1. Keep It Simple & Functional
Technology has made it easy and cheap to build a rudimentary e-commerce website. Yet, as an entrepreneur who is eager to attract eyeballs, it’s easy to get carried away with a flashy design that you think will strike a chord with your target audience. E-commerce gurus think otherwise. K Vaitheeswaran, founder of Indiaplaza (
www.indiaplaza.com), one of India’s premier e-commerce ventures, sums it up in one word – clarity. “Spell out what you’re selling clearly. These days, young entrepreneurs tend to focus on design. But what is really needed is focus on functionality.”

Rafi Sweary, co-founder and president of WalkMe Inc (www.walkme.com), a website guidance tool that helps e-commerce ventures provide better user interface, agrees. “Do not confuse your customer. Once he arrives at your site, he should clearly know what he is in for. So, if you’re selling children’s books and the consumer is looking for accessories, he should immediately know he’s in the wrong place at the very first click”

The bottom line: choose functionality over design. With minimum investment and with platforms such as Wordpress and WalkMe, which provide their services free of cost initially, you can easily construct a rudimentary e-commerce website with an excellent user interface. As your venture grows, you can add more design elements to make it more appealing. 

2. Convenience Is Key
Every e-commerce entrepreneur must understand the psyche behind online shopping. “Customers are looking for convenience and saving time and energy. Customers are also very discerning. So, always keep the convenience factor in mind and provide clear product descriptions,” advises Vaitheeswaran of Indiaplaza.

Also, make sure there is a clear and visible call-to-action tool that will tell the consumer exactly what to do, adds Sweary of WalkMe. “If you want to a customer to navigate your site the way you want him to, provide a clear call-to-action. This way, he doesn’t dawdle and meander and does exactly what you would like him to do.”

3. Handling Security Threats
In addition to the above, you must also make sure that sensitive information that customers submit to your site will not be abused and that it is absolutely safe to execute transactions on your website. To do this, you will need an SSL (Secured Socket Layer) certification. Nearly all e-commerce merchants are thus certified and you should follow suit.

There are several merchants who provide SSL certification in India, and packages range from Rs 20,000-70,000 a year. SSL certification is a declaration that you are serious about your venture and that your customers’ credit card information and bank details are safe when he transacts with you.

4. How Credible Are You?
With so many e-commerce websites sprouting up nearly every day, customers can be confused and even skeptical about your venture. It is therefore important for you to establish your credibility. Provide all your contact information, social networking presence and make sure the customer can reach you if he feels the need to.

Sweary of WalkMe also recommends displaying customer testimonials on your website. “Credible customer testimonials with information on the clients instill confidence in consumers and they may feel more motivated to purchase goods from your site vis-à-vis your peers,” he says.

5. Managing Your Website
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, you have to keep a vigil over your website. An e-commerce site has to remain relevant to the needs of its audience. You will need to make changes frequently, change your product mix if necessary, update your customers about sales and promotions, and make sure you interact with your customers as often as you can. If you reply promptly to both bouquets and brickbats, whether on your website or social networking platforms, you are sure to score with customers sooner than later!

You can send your feedback to smementor@moneycontrol.com or simply post comments below