In many ways, launching an e-commerce venture can seem much easier than trying to open a brick and mortar store. After all, you don’t have to worry about finding a suitable location or figuring out staffing for the hours you would be open. E-commerce can help you avoid many of the overhead issues associated with traditional retail.
But this doesn’t mean it’s easy.
In order to succeed, your e-commerce venture will largely rely on partnerships. There are several different types of partnerships you must build when launching an e-commerce venture. By choosing the right partners in several key areas, you can set your business up for success.
It should come as no surprise that finding a quality manufacturing partner should be one of the first priorities for an e-commerce brand. After all, without any products, you won’t have anything to sell. Your product sourcing vendor should provide quality products, as well as strong communication and customer service.
Keep in mind that not all manufacturers — or manufacturing processes — are created equal. White-label and private-label products require minimal alterations. While they may not be as strongly differentiated against your competitors, they cost less and can be produced much more quickly. Fully custom products, on the other hand, require more of an investment.
To ensure quality outcomes with manufacturing partners, you will likely need to balance your budget, production timeline and other manufacturing priorities. Above all else, partners should conduct quality and compliance checks throughout the manufacturing process and regularly communicate with you to keep on the same page.
Launching your own website for your e-commerce store is an important aspect of building a strong brand. But even when you follow best practices for e-commerce SEO, it can take quite a while before your website starts to see a meaningful level of web traffic. It can seem especially daunting when it feels like you have to compete against major marketplaces like Amazon or Walmart.
In reality, however, e-commerce brands can essentially partner with these marketplaces in addition to offering products on their own stores. According to Amazon’s internal data, over 1.7 million small-to-medium sized businesses sell their products through the Amazon store. With average annual sales of $160,000, these businesses account for roughly 60 percent of all of Amazon’s retail sales.
Amazon’s data analytics and advertising tools can help make it easier for customers to find your products — and this can also help drive traffic to your own e-commerce site.
Of course, Amazon is far from the only potential marketplace partner available. Marketplaces with a strong presence in your niche or geographic region could also prove to be valuable partners in addition to well-known “general” marketplaces.
Storing your e-commerce products — and shipping them to your customers — is another important consideration when launching an e-commerce brand. When beginning your first e-commerce venture, you likely won’t be shipping a high quantity of items (or maintaining a large inventory). Because of this, investing in your own dedicated warehouse space isn’t necessarily going to be the best fit.
On the other hand, a fulfillment partner could be just what you need. These partners keep your inventory at their warehouse space. After an order has been processed, they will then provide shipping services.
Fulfillment partners can lower startup costs and inventory management concerns, while also providing greater flexibility and scalability. They essentially allow you to outsource the process of managing inventory and sending orders to customers, so you can focus more on your store and its products.
A strong fulfillment partner will lower your overall operating costs and streamline order fulfillment so that orders are delivered in a timely manner. In a time when 42 percent of online shoppers expect two-day shipping on every purchase, a quality partner will help you meet their expectations.
4. Other Brands
Other e-commerce brands can be more than just competitors. Strategic partnerships with brands that target a similar niche but don’t compete in the same product categories can deliver a marketing win-win.
As Gregory Pollack writes for MarketingProfs, “The whole idea behind partnership brand marketing is to find customers where your company and brand do not compete: It not only provides your brand with additional credibility in aligning with another company but also opens up distribution channels, allows you to reach and market to customers that may not be aware or thinking of your brand, and—most important—it captures the attention of new potential buyers who may not have your brand top of mind.”
Not every potential brand partner will accept your offer. This shouldn’t discourage you. Keep reaching out to brands that fit your market niche and that seem to be doing a good job reaching their audience. Demonstrate your willingness to promote their products alongside your own, whether that be through social media campaigns, product giveaways, adding them to your store or some other method.
The same principles could be applied to influencers in your niche. Though these typically take the form of paid promotions, they can achieve the same results of helping you build credibility and exposing you to new audiences.
Turn Partnerships Into Lasting Success
While partnerships can go a long way in helping you better manage your new e-commerce venture, it’s important to remember that not all partners are created equal. The right partners can boost your efficiency and bottom line, helping you sell to more customers. The wrong partners could create significant setbacks.
When it comes to finding manufacturing partners, Manufactured should be your go-to resource. Our extensive network draws from over 500 vetted vendors from 25 countries and a broad range of product categories.
Even more importantly, Manufactured is with you through the entire process, providing true end-to-end services that include vendor and logistics management, approval coordination, import assistance, warehouse delivery and more.
We can even help with design, development and quality checks. With Manufactured as your manufacturing partner, you can have confidence that your e-commerce products will deliver the level of quality you need to grow your business.
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