Mastering e-commerce: lessons for Cypriot entrepreneurs

E-commerce, which stands for electronic commerce, is the trading of products or services through websites and other forms of online outlets, using an array of technologies made available via the internet, such as electronic funds transfer, mobile commerce, internet marketing, online transaction processing, supply chain management and electronic data interchange. On a global scale and especially in modern, advanced societies e-commerce has rapidly become one of the most effective and swiftly expanding business models, not less due to its great effectiveness as a means of conducting trade. This trend has gained momentum in Cyprus as well in recent years, for reasons we have previously discussed in our post Discover E-commerce: the hottest current business trend in Cyprus and it is expected to keep growing, offering increased opportunities for expansion for all Cypriot product traders and service providers.

Cyprus is rightly considered as an ideal host country for all kinds of online businesses and digital companies. To find out why this is so, check out this interesting article by Simon Moser, founder of Polygrowth, which is aptly entitled Why Cyprus Is the Best Place in Europe for Digital Business. With this in mind, entering the world of e-commerce seems like a one-way street for Cypriot based entrepreneurs, who should not miss out on the multiple benefits that their own homeland has to offer for online businesses.

If you are already convinced and eager to embark on your journey of digital entrepreneurship, you must first realize that having a clear and solid understanding of the processes and procedures involved in e-commerce is key to ensuring you employ the most effective business model possible, leading you to succeed and excel in an industry that is fiercely competitive by default. Mastering the basics of e-commerce and acquiring the necessary expertise to succeed entails the acquisition and further development of certain essential skills that are diverse and different, yet equally crucial. To help you be able to navigate the world of e-commerce smoothly, here is a lowdown of the key skills necessary for an e-commerce venture in Cyprus or anywhere else in the world:

Knowledge on Sales and Marketing

Though you don’t need to be a marketing guru, it is essential that you are able to comprehend at least the basic concepts of marketing, while it is also crucial that you have a clear picture of who you are target customers are and which of their needs exactly you are aspiring to fulfil. Moreover, selling online is no different from selling offline in terms of understanding how to effectively sell your products or services, while it is also necessary that you are fully aware what your margins are in order to ensure your business becomes and remains profitable. Moreover, you will need knowledge of traditional retailing skills, such as merchandising, as these are often relevant and applicable in the e-commerce context as well.

Understanding the necessity for Search Engine Optimisation

Knowledge of search engine optimisation (SEO) is vital for any online venture and most certainly for an e-commerce business, because without it the chances for success are virtually non-existent. SEO is important but it is also multifaceted and can be thus complicated, meaning that you will most likely need to enlist the assistance of an expert in the field to be able to help and guide you on how to optimize your website or e-shop for search engine rankings purposes and assisting you in offering unique content that will have customers flocking to your site time and time again. To find out more about how and why SEO is important and can help your success as a Cypriot e-commerce entrepreneur, check out one of our many articles on the topic here http://www.start-business-online.com/the-whys-and-hows-seo-for-online-businesses-cyprus-a-12.html. If you are confident you can handle implementing SEO on your own start doing so today, but remember that SEO is too important a success factor to be left out or ignored and hiring an SEO expert is bound to greatly increase both your we-traffic and sales in the short, medium and long term.

Wisely invest in Pay-Per-Click ads

Following from the point above, an SEO expert will definitely help you gain on organic traffic and natural search results. However, and especially if you have a newly established e-commerce venture, there are great benefits to be had from paid advertising online as well, in the form of pay-per click advertisements, provided these are properly targeted and your available budget is spent prudently and wisely. Google AdWords is perhaps the most effective medium of online paid advertising as it allows you to tailor your company and reach the desire audience. Again, you can try to master the basics on your own and you can even gain a qualification in AdWords by passing the relevant examination. However, if you lack the time or the necessary skills and prior knowledge required, you can always seek the help of a professional in Google AdWords and all forms of PPC advertising since this is not an one off matter but rather something you will need on going help with to ensure it is effective and offers a high return on investment.

Become Technically Savvy

Running an e-commerce site requires at least some degree of technical expertise and understanding, irrespective of whether you outsource the job of building your e-commerce site, you need to have at least a basic understanding of the platform it is built through be it WooCommerce, Shopify, Magento or any other similar platform. To be able to run and update your site on your own you need to have basic knowledge of HTML, know how to use a text editor, how to resize a photo etc. Moreover, you need to be able to understand the differences between different types of hosting to be able to choose what is most suitable for your needs. The smooth running of all the technical aspects of any e-commerce site is very important for the user experience and customer satisfaction and technical stuff not working will hinder your credibility and trustworthiness in the eyes of potential clients. If you don’t feel comfortable handling the technical issues yourself, don’t despair as there are many trusted expert companies in Cyprus that you can turn to for technical support on all aspects of your e-commerce site.

Know how to copywrite

Another significant aspect that can contribute towards the success of an e-commerce site is the unique style of writing and the appealing and targeted content, not only in general terms but also when it comes to providing product descriptions that are appealing and can lure in customers. Again you can try to master the proper copywriting skills required yourself or assign the task to an expert copywriter. However, if you do decide to hire someone make sure they have the necessary expertise for specifically this kind of copywriting as e-commerce copywriting is different from other types and needs a specific perspective and language style and also ensure they have an in-depth knowledge and understanding of the specific market you operate in and the features and characteristics of your own products or services they will be called to describe and promote.

Understanding distribution networks

Particularly important for any e-commerce business that trades in products and goods is ensuring they are delivered to customers in a safe, fast and trusted way at the lowest possible cost. Therefore, as an e-commerce entrepreneur you need to have a clear and solid understanding of the available distribution networks to make the most suitable and cost effective choices that will give you peace of mind and keep your customers satisfied.

Learn to analyse and evaluate

Constantly ensuring that your e-commerce website is working efficiently and effectively requires you to keep monitoring its performance and stats through the use of dedicated analysis software, such as Google Analytics. Knowing how to correctly interpret the results obtained, identify potential weaknesses and apply remedial measures in an on-going process of feedback and evaluation is also a vital skill to have and another instance that you may require more expert help to ensure that your site keeps increasing its traffic, leads, conversions and sales.

In a nutshell if you are an aspiring e-commerce entrepreneur in Cyprus the odds are in your favour since e-commerce is a field with great potential and can prove highly lucrative provided you know what you are doing and you do it correctly. If you don’t have the time or the inclination to turn yourself into an e-commerce expert, but you still have a great service or product that you wish to sell online, you can resort to expert outside agencies to handle either the entire spectrum of your e-commerce needs or certain aspects of it that you find particularly complicated. Luckily, the field has grown and expanded in Cyprus as well in recent years, following the paradigm of other countries, meaning there is an abundance of specialized agencies that can help you become a successful e-commerce entrepreneur. However, not all firms are the same and not all of them are equally suitable for your specific needs. Do your research find the most appropriate and skilled experts to work with, who might not necessarily be the cheapest around, but if they do a good job and help you attract customers, increase visibility and attain high profits then your e-commerce business stands to gain the most.

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George Milios

SEO Expert, Marketer

When I’m asked what I do for a living, I debate in my head how to answer the question. Should I say: "I’m an SEO" and wait for the inevitably confused look? Perhaps I should go with my best friend’s answer, instead: “He looks through and organizes information on the internet to get high rankings on Google.” You have to admit, anyone who can organize the internet is probably pretty cool. Should I keep my answers brief, or should I take a little time and educate them about the awesomeness of SEO?

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