If you haven’t noticed, ecommerce is taking the world by storm, and with good reason. The industry is well established, but it also continues to be quite innovative.
For example, there are a handful of big players like Amazon and eBay. However, there is still plenty of room for small business startups. The bottom line? It’s a good time to invest in ecommerce.
Beefing up the Basics
Before we dive into how to find investors for your ecommerce company, let’s cover some of the basics. For instance, you’ll need to know how to build a site and how to market yourself. Luckily, tackling both of these projects is easy, thanks to the Internet.
It used to be that you had to build your e-store from scratch. This wasn’t a simple process. Therefore, most folks had to hire a web developer or they had to spend a lot of energy doing it themselves.
Today it’s totally different. E-store entrepreneurs can build plug-and-play stores using cloud-based ecommerce solutions. This means vendors can build an attractive site for a small monthly fee. What’s more, those sites come complete with the capability of processing payments. Additionally, owners can scale their stores with little to no effort.
Why is this so important? Well, most investors want to see that your store is already working before they put money in. Plus, it’s good to have some background in the industry before asking people to commit money to your business startup.
Marketing Is a Key Ingredient
Once you have your store built, you’ll have to entice customers to come spend their money with you. Despite that challenge, gone are the days when you’d have to spend bundles of cash to buy advertising space. Nowadays it’s as simple as setting up Facebook, Instagram and Twitter pages.
Establishing your social media presence is an imperative for any ecommerce brand. It allows you to promote sales and product launches, obviously. But it should also be more than that. A good online marketer understands that social media should be a two-way conversation between the brand and its customers.
So feel free to have fun and by playful. Share memes on your page, or ask shoppers to post videos of themselves using your products. Have them tag friends or family in posts in exchange for entry into various contests. Social media offers infinite possibilities.
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Find Your Investors
Now that you have the skeleton of your ecommerce business, you can start inviting investors to pitch in.
Start by explaining the value proposition of your online retail store. What is your brand identity? Who is your target audience? How likely are they to buy from you? What is the return on investment (ROI) for your marketing initiatives, product sales, and so on? These are questions every investor will ask. Start practicing your answers early to avoid appearing dumbfounded or caught off-guard.
The next step is finding folks with capital to invest. While you can start by reaching out to friends or former colleagues, you may want to move onto something more serious down the line. AngelList connects startups with investors in an easy-to-manage online environment. Dozens of incubator programs do the same thing.
But that’s not all. Some investors host pitch contests, in which they invite business people to share their ideas. This has become more and more popular, thanks to television programs such as “Shark Tank.”
If you aren’t much of a “shark,” then enticing investors might not be for you. Still, you can ask people to fund your fledgling business through crowdfunding. (Not to be confused with crowdsourcing, which is a little different. But that can be the subject of another post.)
While critics might criticize this method as glorified cyber begging, nothing could be further from the truth. Crowdfunding shows the public is interested—even “invested”—in your brand.
So you see, now really is an excellent time to invest in ecommerce.