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Grow your e-commerce business (without spending money)


Contrary to what you might think, you don’t need a big budget to make your online shop successful. Indeed, some of the world’s most successful businesses were started by people with lots of ambition but very little money. How did they get to the top? By being determined and creative. Qualities that money can’t buy. Here are our top no-cost and low-cost ways to drive your entrepreneurial success.

Boost your energy levels

You might think e-commerce success is all about getting your product pricing, SEO and advertising right. Yes, these are important, but the real magic happens when you are at your most energized. Here are simple ways to stay positive and focussed.

Watch a daily dose of inspiration

“Inspiration is perishable”. How do you refuel your tank of ambition? Time to learn from experts. Take a look at TED Talks about the art and science of selling. No TED talk is longer than 18 minutes – so you can even watch one over your lunch break.

Unsubscribe to free up your time

Is your inbox littered with unwanted marketing messages? The daily task of deleting these messages is a waste of your precious time. So take 30 minutes to go on an ‘unsubscribe binge’. A de-cluttered inbox is a beautiful thing.

Start the day by walking and learning

Experts recommend morning exercise to boost your mood and kick-start your metabolism. A morning walk or run is also a great time to listen to inspiring podcasts about e-commerce. Here’s a list of seven podcasts for e-commerce recommended by HubSpot.

Get a mentor – the stealthy way!

In the age of remote working, being an entrepreneur can be a lonely business. This is where mentorship helps. Friendly conversations with wise people will make you feel connected and unlock ideas and solutions. The challenge is having the courage to ask someone to be a mentor. Our tip is to not mention the word mentorship – it can sound like a big commitment. Just ask for a 15-minute virtual coffee. Who hasn’t got 15 minutes? Use the conversation to build rapport, and you’ll soon have a mentor to support you – even if they don’t realize it!

Become a mentor

When life is hectic, you might feel short on time to help others. But trust us: mentoring is a win-win activity. Being a mentor means passing on your wisdom. This involves reflecting on the things you’ve learned in your career. The more you reflect, the clearer your thinking becomes. How to get started? There are many not-for-profit organizations that connect mentors with mentees – search online and you might be surprised to find how valuable your skills and experiences are.

Get a career coach (for free)

Want to be at the top of your game? Work with an executive coach. Coaches will help you define your goals and troubleshoot problems. That’s the good news. The bad news is that coaches can be very expensive. To get around this, volunteer to work with a trainee coach. Coaches need to fulfill a certain number of hours of training to become certified. By volunteering with your local coaching organizations, you can access life-changing support, without spending a fortune.

Work with an accountability partner

If you can’t find a trainee coach, try asking a friend or acquaintance to be your accountability partner. This means having someone to share your goals and deadlines with. By checking in on a regular basis, you’ll help each other to keep your promises. It’s a simple approach but it really works.

Start swapping business books

Thousands of new business books are published every year, offering pearls of wisdom to rejuvenate your energy and focus. Rather than spend money buying new books, why not start a ‘book swap’ with people in your network? Offer them copies of books you already have on your shelves, and ask them to share their favorite books with you.

Grow your customer base

The obvious way to grow your customer base is to invest in paid traffic and advertising. But what if you don’t have the money? No problem! There are still plenty of steps you can take to attract site visitors and convert them into paying customers:

Attend live events to build online sales

E-commerce is an online realm, but don’t forget to build face-to-face connections. Markets, trade shows and conferences offer ways to meet potential customers and encourage them to visit your website. People love to meet the founders of a brand, so make sure to tell them your story. Can’t afford to hire a stall or stand at a fair? Go along as a spectator. Try handing out business cards to strangers – we dare you!

Upgrade your writing skills

Hate writing? You’re not alone. Lots of people feel the pressure of exposing their writing skills to the world. But for online shops, good copywriting can really make a difference when it comes to sales. So it’s worth investing time and attention in your writing skills. For some top tips, check out our blog post on writing production descriptions that sell.

Monitor competitor pricing

When did you last adjust your product pricing? It might be time to check out the competition and see what they’re charging. Make sure to look at as many other brands as possible – including online shops based in other countries. If you sense that you are under-pricing or over-pricing your products, then you can take steps to adjust your pricing accordingly.

Offer a clear returns policy

Do you make it easy for customers to find your returns policy? It might be tempting to hide this information in the ‘small print’, but this can be counter-productive. Customers want to know where they stand. If you can’t afford to offer postage-paid returns, then spell this out on your website. It’s better to be clear upfront than to have to spend time dealing with customers down the line.

Keep your payment options updated

New payment solutions come online every day. Offering multiple payment options is a great way to signal that you’re a professional online shop and to prevent cart abandonment.

Build customer loyalty

Repeat customers are essential for long-term business success. Why? Because they tend to spend more and often recommend your brand to others. Here are some quick ways to inspire loyalty in your customers:

Explain your domain name

Your company name might seem obvious to you, but it’s a great place to start your brand story. So, once you’ve chosen a great company name and domain name, make sure your website tells the story of how and why you picked your name.

Tell the world a secret

It’s a cliché, but “people buy from people”. In the age of online shopping, we can sometimes lose the human dimension of retail. So if you feel your sales are flagging, try writing a blog (or post to your socials) to tell the world something about yourself. Include surprising details, and you’ll be more likely to catch people’s attention.

Run seasonal promotions

The secret to seasonal promotions is to plan ahead. Put together an editorial calendar outlining the public holidays and events that are relevant to your market(s). In the run-up to these events, offer your customers special deals and tap into the holiday spirit. This will make your brand look alive and vital (customers feel reassured when they see that online shops are active).

Reduce your response times

One of the best ways to build customer loyalty is to respond quickly to questions and complaints. The longer you leave a customer waiting, the angrier they can become. Dealing with issues quickly and courteously shows customers that you are a professional e-commerce brand. People understand that problems are a part of life – so if you resolve the issue quickly, you might even turn a grumpy customer into a loyal fan.

Invite your repeat customers to comment

Want to make your repeat customers feel special? Ask them for feedback about your products and/or website. This can be as simple as sending a personalized email asking two or three questions. Even if they don’t reply, they will see that you value their business. This can help them remember your brand the next time they’re shopping online.

To infinity and beyond!

We hope this list of ideas has provided some inspiration. At get.shop we love to celebrate e-commerce entrepreneurs, so if you want to share your .shop story – get in touch today.

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