Make this the year you seize new opportunities – like finally making your small business dreams come true or elevating your existing small business to the next level. It’s all possible, and we’ve gathered some of our best practices to help you get there. In this article, we’ll cover everything from ecommerce platforms to shipping must-haves and marketing tips that will get your business out there for potential customers to discover.
Ready to make this your best year yet? Keep reading.
Explore our tips and best practices by subject matter:
Open for business: Ecommerce basics to get your business listed and selling online
Now more than ever, ecommerce is a key part of doing business in our increasingly online world. But when it comes to launching or growing an ecommerce business, there is a lot to wrap your head around – from building your website and order processing, to user experience and everything in between.
First, you need to know what you are selling and who you are selling to. Find out who your customers are, when they shop and how they shop. For example, are they using a computer or a mobile device? It’s all key to creating a successful ecommerce experience.
Ready to get started? Make sure you have these essentials checked off.
You will need:
Choose your ecommerce platform
The next step is to decide how to create your online business. Here are a few options:
Build your own branded website with an ecommerce platform
Solution providers such as Shopify, Woocommerce and Wix (among many others) can help you simplify the process of building an online store. With step-by-step instructions and an easy-to-navigate setup, they can get you up and running fast.
Sell on a marketplace
Marketplaces are another great option – especially if you’re just starting out. Existing websites such as Etsy and eBay can help you kickstart your business by connecting you to their massive user bases in just a few minutes. If you’re operating a service-based business, getting your business listed on a site like Yellow Pages is also a great way to reach new audiences and draw more attention to your business.
Choose a mix of selling channels
You don’t have to settle for just one. Many businesses sell through different channels to tap into different markets. And while you might want to focus on one selling channel to start, you can also add as you grow and become more confident selling online.
Learn more about selling online and ecommerce solutions here.
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Start selling online
Elevate your business’ online presence with these tips and tricks.
Appeal to customers who look before they buy
Your online store represents your brand. Simple and clean design and photography will let your product shine and help customers feel confident in their purchase – knowing that what they see is what they’ll get.
Make your customer experience smooth and seamless
Intuitive navigation, a simple checkout process, upfront delivery timelines and clear messaging during every step of their journey puts new customers at ease.
Make your ecommerce operations smooth and seamless
Set yourself up for success with shipping practices and software that connect with your ecommerce platform, making it easy to consolidate orders, track order status in real time, manage returns with ease and so much more. You’ll appreciate the insights and benefit from keeping things organized for yourself on the backend.
Stay on top of your inventory so you know exactly what you have on hand and what you don’t – before it’s too late. When starting out, you may be able to manage inventory by eyeballing it and keeping tabs on low stock volumes. But as you grow, or start adding additional SKUs and selling channels, consider adding an inventory management system to help you monitor levels more effectively.
Look at everything from the customer’s perspective.
Ready to kickstart your ecommerce business? Get our tips to make the transition online.
Out for delivery: The fundamentals of shipping to deliver on customer expectations
One of the biggest keys to launching a successful ecommerce business is setting clear expectations when it comes to shipping your products.
Displaying shipping times and offering shipping options allow customers to feel in control and lets them know what to expect. It’s a simple way to make potential first-time customers feel at ease and encourage repeat purchases.
But how do you make this as simple as possible for both the customer and your business? Canada Post Snap Ship™ – and other online shipping tools like ShipStation, and Shippo – can save you time and money.
Snap Ship enables you to:
- Reach any Canadian address.
- Estimate costs and access discounted shipping rates.
- Create and print shipping labels – using either a standard home office printer or a thermal label printer.
- Schedule parcel pickups.
- Enable customer returns.
- Create labels online and access a higher discount than if you went to a Canada Post retail outlet.
Get ready to ship
Here are some supplies you’ll need to ship orders for your business:
- Boxes and bubble mailers of various sizes (you can buy them in our online store or through sites like Uline or The Packaging Company)
- Protective padding
- Packaging tape
- A scale
- Measuring tape
- A standard home office printer or a Thermal Label Printer for printing your shipping labels
Master the basics of shipping
Save time by making sure your parcels are shipped properly the first time. Before handing off your parcel to a delivery partner:
- Accurately measure the dimensions and weight of the package, and understand cubing measurements.
- Make sure the parcel is well secured.
- Print the shipping label and attach it in a visible location on the parcel for easy processing.
- Tap into shipping discounts through the Canada Post Solutions for Small BusinessTM program.
Loud and clear: Advertising your brand while optimizing marketing channels
Now that you’ve launched your ecommerce platform and are ready to ship, the next step is to make sure customers know about your business. An effective marketing strategy can deliver your business into the hands of potential customers, grow your following and reach past customers who might need to be reminded of your amazing product or service.
One of the best ways to get your message heard is through an integrated marketing campaign. That means reaching customers through different channels such as social media, digital banner ads, emails, direct mail, popups – the opportunities are virtually endless!
Thankfully there are ways to simplify the process – making it quicker and easier – whether you’re looking for a hands-on or hands-off approach.
Determine the goals of your campaign
This could include everything from boosting awareness of your business to boosting sales, increasing foot traffic to a physical location and even enhancing your brand image.
Target your ideal audience
To pull this off, you’ll need to determine who is your ideal customer, where they live and what the best channels to reach them are.
Tailor your message
Let’s face it, words matter. A lot. But it isn’t just what you say, it’s how, when and where you say it. Consider the audience you’re targeting to ensure your message will resonate with them and capture their attention.
Test and learn
Every piece of communication you share offers the chance to learn more about the shoppers your business attracts. Creating a successful marketing mix is all about tweaking your messaging and channels to make the most of every dollar spent.
Try a DIY marketing campaign
You can use Snap AdmailTM to create your own integrated marketing campaign in about the time it takes you to brew a pot of coffee.
Snap Admail features easy-to-use templates and targeting tools and offers on-call support when you need it – so you can create digital and direct marketing ads with ease.
You can use it to easily target customers across the country, landing your message exactly where you want it. Using both direct mail and digital ads with cohesive creative and messaging ensures every potential customer sees your product, your service and your offer – increasing your chances of conversion.
Ready to start building your campaign? Get started with Snap Admail.
Take a hands-off approach
Already have a lot on your plate? No problem. Canada Post can connect you with experienced partners who will work with you, from start to finish, to create your integrated marketing campaign.
Want to find partners in your neighbourhood? Explore our partner directory.
If your business is ready to take the next step, we can’t wait to see the big things you’ll do.
Get small business inspiration
Canada Post’s magazine, This Is Small Business, is your resource for small business success stories, ecommerce solutions and the latest market insights.Read now