Although ecommerce is rapidly growing, the recession is still impacting online business owners. Read this Q&A with Volusion customer, All Things Lake, for an insider’s view on keeping your ecommerce site alive.
What’s so great about this “Great Recession,” anyway?
(Not much, if you ask most business owners.)
Despite the penny pinching and downsizing, there’s still light at the end of the tunnel. Take some advice from our Q&A with Tonya Fondren, owner of AllThingsLake.com, who has been able to successfully grow her online business throughout the recession.
What are some tips for sustaining a business during a recession?
First, reevaluating our inventory and keeping it a minimum level in regards to how much we keep on hand is important, as is keeping our price point lower than before. Customers are wanting a “value” to their purchase and not wanting to spend excess amounts for a gift or item.
Also, maintaining a “value-add” approach to customer purchases is key. Keeping the focus on the benefit of the item they are purchasing helps shoppers to feel like the product adds value to their lives, which makes them feel like they “need it” instead of just “wanting it.”
I also had to reevaluate some of my products that did not ship well (too large, big, awkward size…) and choose products that were “friendlier” to ship. This helped lower my internal and external shipping costs to help provide customers a smaller price.
What are some free marketing strategies and financial opportunities for entrepreneurs?
We’ve used free marketing strategies like Facebook and Twitter, which both bring attention to our store and sale items by posting daily or weekly announcements. With Facebook, I also provide a small discount for my fans if they “Like” AllThingsLake’s page! I also send out emails and newsletters with announcements of new products and gifts for various occasions (ideas for Mother’s and Father’s Day, etc). All of these communication channels are free and don’t cost a thing to send to customers.
Also, networking and linking with other sites whose customers would also enjoy our website is free and increases exposure. On the same token, word of mouth via friends and family using our products and wearing our clothing has helped spread our brand and website.
Our ability to purchase inventory at a lower cost to help provide a higher mark-up to a reasonable retail price has been helpful as well. Having the ability to choose the best priced vendor is important – know what is out there and available to you to buy and resell.
Remember, retaining customers is less expensive than finding new ones, so it’s important that they stay loyal to you. Keep them enticed with new/fresh products and periodically provide discounts to them for being a return customer.
Do you think it’s a good idea to start a business during a recession?
Yes! By applying some simple and “free” marketing and managing your inventory at a reasonable level and price point, you can start and run a business even during a recession. By enticing customers with a fun and inviting website, people have enjoyed shopping at AllThingsLake. We’ve also provided fun products that are useful and cost efficient, which makes people more willing to part with their money by seeing value in our products.
Despite the recession, customers are still spending money – they are just being more selective on how and when. Thus, making your products special and unique will give you a big advantage as a new business.