The year before last I was visited by the idea of creating an online store. I knew a lot about cars, knew how to pick up parts, talked to owners of parts stores, had competence in internet marketing - this seemed to me enough. Not really. I share experiences in this article.
Niche selection error
A niche is one product or a group of products targeted at the same audience. Do not try to immediately become "Ozone" or "Yulmart." The principle of "One niche - one IM".
Perhaps the main mistake at the start was the underestimation of its marginality. Partly it justifies us with a partner that without experience this indicator is difficult to estimate “by eye”. Until you start working with suppliers, calculate pricing, do not appreciate the real traffic, you will not understand how much you can earn.
The statistics on sales of automotive products feature a margin of 30% with an average check of 3.5–4 thousand rubles. At the exit, this should give a dirty margin of ~ 1000 rubles from the average check, which is quite normal for yourself. I am sure that a developed business in this niche gives such a result.
But the margin on different groups of goods differs. For example, cheap oils, Chinese filters, and spare parts for running gear repair, major players sell practically “to zero”: at the level of 7-15%. Higher margin on high-quality oils, original spare parts, engine and transmission parts - from 30 to 100%. For electronics and accessories, the mark-up depends on many factors, so I don’t bother to reduce all groups of goods to a single range.
The average check gives a margin of 500-700 rubles, which is very little.
In developed stores, numbers are better, but at the beginning of the journey this is a common story.
By accumulating experience, you begin to compare with other niches and catch yourself thinking — you had to sell X. Or Y. Or Z.
BUT! If you have a difficult niche, this does not mean that you cannot work successfully with it. If you are competent in it, you will not be left without clients. It will just be a little harder.
Moreover, you can always find some kind of chip that can bring good money. For example, last summer, autobuffers blew up the market.
When bafers only entered the market, the mark-up reached 200-300%. Now the number of sellers has increased, prices have stabilized.
Too long harness
In one of the first letters from the distribution of the school of online retailers Imsider, it was written something like "Start as simple as possible, with investments of up to 50 thousand rubles." And I still remember the cognitive dissonance caused by this recommendation.
When you do not have experience creating an online store, you usually study information on the Internet: read articles, watch videos, participate in webinars. Even if the information is useful, it does not develop skills.
You can study a niche for a year, save money for launching, and then look sad to see how your performances are crumbling like the Ekaterinburg TV Tower. Together with the invested 200-500 thousand rubles.
And you can take one product, invest 10-20 thousand rubles and try to sell it. Use one mechanic, another, third. Do not go - take another product.
At first glance, amateurishness.
On the second, when checking a niche, you work not with an abstract info from the network, but with a completely defined market. Your market. Having started a few niches, you will see what they look like, what they differ with, what you can work with, and what it is better to give up.
BUT! In the morning, reading about a new product on the Internet, and already in the evening cutting a store for it is also not an option. It is necessary to at least explore a niche, compare suppliers and calculate the economy.
Here are my ideas fell apart in the first month of work.
Technical side <Business processes
In preparation, I spent a lot of time on the technical side of the issue: I compared the usual designers of online stores with specialized platforms, chose the best of the latter. It turned out a cool professional store ... which did not pay off.
The trick is that a beautiful and functional online store is just an add-on to business processes. If a direct competitor is lower than the price, there is a warehouse and goods in stock, free delivery, professional selection managers, and you do not have all this - the result will be appropriate.
First of all, you need to deal with business issues and only then the technical side. Too expensive? So you won't pull a niche. Simplify the task.
Your needs клиентов Customer needs
For 10 years behind the wheel, I never went shopping. I learned how to select parts through Exist (at that time, only he had similar functionality) and just took them away at the pick-up point. It seemed completely natural to me, and I didn’t assume that most people act differently.
When I launched contextual advertising, I found that visitors simply do not know how to use the site.
Your audience does not always need the same as you personally!
The specifics of spare parts for cars in that they need to pick up. It is necessary to understand the device of the machine, to be oriented in the diagrams, to know the technical characteristics. In the same "Opel Astra" 2008 release 15 versions. If you make a mistake, the part may not be suitable.
What happens to the context:
- In the ad, you promise a visitor headlamp for the Ford Focus.
- He follows the link and does not see on the page of the promised lights. But he sees that it is necessary to indicate the year of manufacture, modification, recall, the right or left rear headlight is broken.
- And in large red letters it is written that if he chooses not the right thing, no one will return the money to him.
- And the query "Ford Focus 2006 European front right headlight" no one does. And even if you do, the request will fall under the "little hits" filter. Perhaps “Korolev” and voice search will change something in the near future, but for now the situation is like this.
The average user who clicks on contextual advertising, does not want such difficulties! He doesn't need your professional shop. He needs a regular landing, organized according to the classical principle of AIDA. Those who need a store with catalogs, too, there is, but how to attract them to the site is a separate and very specific story.
Online Sales ≠ Online Store
Technically, an online store is a website through which you can arrange a sale. The customer puts the purchase in the basket, pays for it with a credit card, leaves the address for delivery and so on.
BUT! Not all buyers need an online store!
This simple thought came when I sat behind the "Webvisor". The user busily traveled through the site, he found the transmission oil, clutch release bearing for the ancient square Land Rover, some other small things and left ... And after 5 minutes he called me and ordered all this by phone. With self and cash payment. And there were many such situations. The most absurd - when a client offered to throw money through "Sberbank.Online", because it is reluctant to register, it is unusual to pay through the site and enter card data for too long.
Attention, question! Who are we looking for a convenient online platform for selecting and ordering? For whom we connected the online cashier? For yourself or for your audience?
In Moscow, this may seem wild, but the province for the most part lives that way. If you are guided by the regional market, this must be taken into account.
Do not understand your audience
Perceiving your future customers in this way, you cannot sell them anything.
Portraits of "ordinary motorists" a lot. For example:
- Car owners who do not buy parts at all. They go to the official service for diagnostics and parts they are ordered by a specialist.
- Car owners who are accustomed to buying in regular stores, but lately they haven’t found anything in stock, so they look carefully at the Internet. They should be gently and gently pushed to the purchase, until they decided that it was too difficult.
- Car owners who basically do not buy under the order. It is easier for them to spend the day and drive around 30 stores, but to find a spare part in stock.
- Car owners who are fan of a single brand (for example, “toyotovody”) or a group of brands (in the spirit of the movement Only JDM).
Only JDM is a group of fans of right-hand drive Japanese cars, only for the domestic market. Left hand drive variations of "Honda" and "Toyota" - not true.
There are hundreds of such portraits in wide niches. And everyone chooses the goods differently. And not everyone will be your client. Your task is to find a segment and work with it.
Honda fans will curse you if you say that Idemitsu is the original oil for their samurai. And ordinary owners will buy it with pleasure as a non-original conveyor: almost the same thing, only 2 times cheaper.
For Renault and Hyundai owners, fast delivery is on the same day. Spare parts available for them in large cities in bulk. You can not bring in 3 hours, they will call in another store themselves and buy from availability. And the owners of rare SAAB or Lancia will be happy if the purchase comes to them within a week.
I have neighbors in the office - the guys have been successfully selling auto music for several years now. Half bass-whipping cars ride around the city with their stickers on the rear window. Have you ever seen at least in one article on sales that you can communicate with clients with a great and powerful Russian language? Torshin does not count.
So, the guys are great at explaining in this way the difference between two subwoofers or two pairs of speakers. And the audience - 50% consisting of boys with automusic is more expensive than the car in which it is installed - will understand them perfectly.
Audience nuances should be taken into account in building business processes and advertising activities in any niche.
BUT! No need to dig in. If you reduce the portrait to “a girl from 20 to 30 years old, single, without children, feminist views, who live in Kazan, sit in public places like“ Yazhemat ”and“ Tychedevochka ”, listen to rock music, earn 100+ cr. Per month and goes to “Alfa Romeo” ", you can create the perfect target. And do not get to anyone.
What about this says:
- Convenient and clear directory with the names of categories from the world of the buyer. If you don’t know what a differential lock is, body lift and main pair - most likely you are not a jeep.
- Subdivision with events. Jeepers are a huge family that loves to get together. Participation in such events is a significant element of business promotion.
- Subsections with photos, videos and articles on technical topics. The audience loves profile content. The materials are interesting and those who already ride on an SUV, and those who are just going.
In the subsection with certificates there was useful information on how to register the changes made to the design of the car. With links to all forms and documents. So useful that it would be worth it in a separate subsection.
Of course, this is a long-established business that has been operating for 10+ years. Of course, this is one hundred thirty second and far from the final version of the site. And of course, the money for all this may not be immediately.
But what I personally did not do, but it would be worth it to think: a) what can I do with my budget and how to use it more efficiently and b) what I want to come to in the end. If you immediately start from point B, ignoring point A, you can very quickly fall out into a ditch. If you rest on point A, putting point B in the far box, you can go a long time, but in a circle.
Do not have a plan and financial pillow for several months ahead
Recently, Elena Torshina published a text on a blog about why clients of digital agencies are quickly losing a fuse and leaving the market. In short, the main problem is the lack of financial planning. The starting budget is spent on a bunch of advertising activities, it dries up in a month or two, and that’s it. And this happens with budgets of 10-100 thousand and 1-10 million rubles.
In the first 5-6 months, the budget of the online store should not depend on profit. If the niche is complex and there are many competitors in the market, this period will be even longer.
BUT! There should not be a feeling that sales will take after some time and come from nowhere by themselves.
If you have studied contextual advertising (at least at the level of “Trained from Yandex” and “Read Texterra's Step-by-Step Guide”) and launched a campaign, it should immediately give some result. Maybe, without analytics at the level of Ilya Iserson, maybe with a low CTR and a weak conversion of a click into a sale, it may not be enough for a payback. But something you have to sell. If there are no sales at all, it means that you are doing something / have done wrong.
In my case, the main difficulty was in the initially low launch budget. It was originally planned to independently launch the context and promote the public VKontakte and Instagram.
In the very first week, it became clear that it was simply impossible to do all three directions simultaneously and independently, combining it with work and family. As a result, I focused on Yandex.Direct, which gave the greatest effect in the short term.
Recently, I interviewed Maxim Ilyakhov and asked him what the difference was between promoting high-budget and low-budget projects. He replied that with a high budget you do everything, and with a low budget you take one thing, but you do well.
Planning to make a profit right away is normal. If several factors coincide, you can immediately pay off and go into a plus. I remember the story of "Mosigra", which opened before the mass purchase of New Year's gifts and in the first vacation went into plus.
It is abnormal to tie up vital expenses for a young business in the first six months or a year. Starting, you need to know where the money will be taken for development, except from the planned profit. And money for personal needs, too.
Climbing without competition in highly competitive niches
Of course, working with large niches is the most interesting. There are most customers, you can get regular customers, who will return several times a year. This is not only auto parts, but also children's toys, clothing, cosmetics, consumer electronics and so on. Yes, in these niches in its own cool. But without money it is very difficult.
There are many big brands here.. Even if there are a lot of bad reviews on the Internet about competitors and you have your own bad buying experience from them, it is very difficult to break the system. Without money - it is impossible.
BUT! If you successfully select a segment within a large niche, you can beat off your piece of the audience.
For example, one Perm spare parts store launched four brands at once: “Auto-Korean”, “Auto-Japanese”, “Auto-European” and “Auto-Chinese”. And also organized 5 specialized service stations.
And it has already grown to a federal franchise, represented in 26 cities of Russia.
Here are very capricious customers.. They are used to a large number of stores, assortment, free delivery and / or points of delivery nearby. If the already mentioned autobuffers are ready to wait for 3-7 days, then try to persuade someone to order a canister of synthetics Shell and a filter for Solaris for tomorrow. Why such difficulties, if you can buy right now from the presence in any store on the road?
BUT! Here they appreciate the competence of the seller. If the consultant is technically savvy and knows how to talk about complex things simply, he understands the client's requests, they can wait. This is the other side of high competition and dumping: there are problems with personnel even in serious networks.
It’s harder to start small and grow. Most likely, you do not have time to grow - eat before. Just collect some store on the "Opencard" with the design for "C grade" and make millions will not work. But it is not exactly. There are a lot of factors that can play in your favor.
Maybe major competitors do not have self-delivery points in your region. Or they were closed. For example, I was lucky that the launch of an online store coincided with the epic split of Exist - the largest niche player - and the closure of several pickup points in the city. Many of his regular customers began to look for new, more convenient options during this period.
Instead of conclusion
First, I wanted to call this article "How to fill up an online store before you even started it." But while I was writing, I realized that these five schools of knowledge taught much more than everything I read and studied before launch. In fact, it is necessary to mow. Only in this way you will understand where the error is, and figure out how to fix it.
How did you mow, launch your projects, and how did you correct the situation? Tell us in the comments.
If you need an online store without jambs, our agency is creating websites.