We love building ecommerce websites. Shopping online is such a convenient way for busy people to buy the things they need. It also offers savvy business owners a whole new way to serve and support their customers.
If you’re looking to expand your customer base, selling your products online might be the right move for you. However, the decision to open an online store should not be made in haste. Opening an online store without the right preparation and understanding of what is involved can result in frustration. Additionally, poor planning can force you to take time away from your existing business, which can negatively affect your bottom line.
We want our clients to be successful. That is why we have compiled this list of skills one should have before attempting to run an ecommerce website. (See our related article Is Running An Ecommerce Business for You?)
Six skills needed to manage and maintain a successful online store
At Trevellyan.biz, we want the websites we build to work for our clients, and we want their time to be spent as efficiently as possible. Therefore, when we start to work on a new website we do our best to understand the client’s business. Our goal is to create a solid, durable structure, taking into account everything we’ve learned over the course of many years of building websites.
In many ways our role is similar to that of an architect hired to build a brick and mortar store. While the architect’s job is extremely important, the store owner will be responsible for running the business after the “store” is built.
An online store requires spending a lot of time working at a computer. Your computer skills need to be strong. Are you comfortable managing and organizing the information on your computer? Are you familiar with using spreadsheets and word processing documents? Do you have basic image manipulation skills? These skills are all necessary to managing an ecommerce website. In addition, orders and customer inquiries will all arrive in the form of emails, so you will need be good at keeping your inbox under control and your emails organized. Online customers will expect same-day or next-day responses.
The accounting skills needed to run an online store are similar to the skills needed to run a traditional brick and mortar store. Budgeting, investing, and forecasting will help you to be successful online. Understanding profit and loss, accounting and finance, will help you determine how much to spend on hiring and retaining employees, marketing, and business expenditures.
To be successful selling online, you must be open to change. Technology is ever-changing and when technology changes, you must be willing and able to adapt. When the first online stores were built, customers were using desktop computers. With the advent of mobile devices, websites had to accommodate new screen sizes. This required rebuilding the website to be mobile-friendly. No one knows for certain what new technology is next, but one thing is for sure, change is coming.
Unlike hired help who have a defined and often narrow job description, entrepreneurs are ultimately responsible for everything related to their business. Understanding how much time to allocate to each task cannot be gleaned from a book. Only experience will provide the answer. The goal should be to work smarter, not harder. Learn to prioritize and delegate. Take time to think and reflect.
Determination and resourcefulness
As with most things in life, an online business will have its ups and downs. Determination will help drive you and can keep you from giving up when things get tough. Combine determination with resourcefulness and you’ve got a winning combination. When confronted with an obstacle, the best entrepreneurs can figure out what the next best step will be. This can mean knowing who to call to ask for help or where to go to get the best advice.
Long-term and short-term thinking
Building a strong online brand requires both long-term and short term planning.
SHORT TERM – Find ways to generate excitement around your products/services so you can start generating income and buzz. Driving traffic to your website now is a short term goal.
LONG TERM – Branding is key to building longevity for your company. By creating positive associations between your company and your customers, you build loyalty. Moreover, building your mailing list, encouraging online reviews, and accumulating positive testimonials are all ways to build a strong foundation for your long-term marketing efforts.
Do you have the skills needed to run an online store?
If, after reviewing our list of skills required to run an ecommerce business, you decide that you need to hone your skills before setting up shop, then you have a lot of options. You can sign up for a class at a local community college, take online courses through services such as Lynda.com or Alison.com, or visit the library.