In a world where two internet giants own the entire eCommerce world, one lone entrepreneur seeks to steal the coveted “Piece of the Pie.” Many have failed, a handful have succeeded. It is up to you, entrepreneur, to convert leads and sell products. How will you proceed?

The battle for the eCommerce sphere continually feels like some Hollywood blockbuster script. And it might seem like you’re the underdog, nay, the sewer rat, in this game. But with eCommerce sales predicted to hit over 4 trillion dollars by 2020, there’s plenty of the market to go around.

The question is, how do you break in? How do you build an ecommerce business to compete with the big boys? Well, I’ve got five tips to help you on your journey.

1. Remove Customer Fears

Amazon’s reliance on the US Postal Service might seem like a boon at first glance. They’ve somehow cut a deal with the overworked and failing postal service to allow cheap or free shipping. But one complaint I often see with Amazon is that packages come to the door damaged.

Amazon is massive. They can absorb damaged goods returns quite easily. But it makes me wonder how much this damages Amazon’s reputation and shoves customers over to Walmart’s e-commerce gig.

As a small player, you can learn from this. Customers are more likely to buy from you if you can assuage their fears. One easy way to erase a host of unease is to offer free returns for a period of time.

If you sell clothing, clients will be afraid that something may not fit them properly. Even with a size chart, it’s difficult sometimes to find apparel that fits well. This is a fairly universal fear among online apparel shoppers.

If you can give a satisfaction guarantee to your customers, then they’ll be more likely to spring for that expensive pair of shoes.

2. The Constant Sale Technique

Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Flash Sales, etc. The consumer knows that what they want will eventually go down in price. If they can wait on a product, they will wait for the product to go on sale.

The first thing you see when you open is a sale. At this very moment, the Dot is on sale, a big slash through the original price. Not only will people who were specifically looking for the Dot buy it now that it’s on sale, people who didn’t even know they wanted one might be tempted to buy one.

Create a section on your eCommerce site for featured sales. Be sure to include some sort of link on the home page to your sales page. You want to make it easy for customers to find sales and purchase items on sale.

3. Streamline the Checkout Process

The other day I went to buy energy gels for my ultra marathon training. I gathered everything into my shopping cart and hit the checkout button. Ten steps later I was wishing I’d just bought in bulk on Amazon.

Do you see the problem? I’m thinking of your competitor instead of you when the checkout process is horrendous.

While, yes, you’ll probably have some products on Amazon, you want people buying directly from your site. You’ll save money on the Amazon fulfillment fees.

Social login is one easy way to streamline the process. Everything connects back to Facebook or Google now anyway. And most people aren’t averse to sharing their public profile with pretty much anyone now.

Your goal should be to get the process down to 12-15 elements. The average is closer to 24. You want to be better than average, right?

4. Get Your Funnel Before the Right People

Your funnel is only as effective as your marketing. Whether you’re using inbound or outboud marketing (you should be using both), your funnel has to capture people like a Japanese beetle trap. And how do you trap Japanese beetles? By placing your trap near their food sources.

Your customers are “feeding” on information relevant to them. And that’s exactly where you will capture and convert. Native advertising incorporates the natural desire to know more with ad placement.

The top of your funnel should be ads honed to sit on a relevant page and continue your customer’s process of discovery.

5. Just Do It

I’m the kind of person who wants to know everything about a thing before I actually invest either time or resources. I didn’t start actually training for or sign up for an ultra marathon until I’d read the entirety of Coach Koop’s massive tome on training. I’ve let this tendency keep me in the research phase indefinitely.

Don’t be me. Be Michael Jordan and just do it. Just start building a website, creating social media accounts and sourcing products.

You’ll learn by necessity. Yes, it will take research and prep, but do your research as you go. Each step will reveal the next.

Continually Add Value

One of the incredible things about running an eCommerce storefront is the opportunity for creativity. Adding and updating products and services will be a constant joy and a constant battle.  Brands evolve just as much as people and you must keep up.

Your quest is never complete. You’ll always be researching and improving. For more tips and info, check out Shoemoney’s Shoeintology.

By Ben Mattice

Benjamin Mattice is a freelance writer/editor, horror and sci-fi writer, SEO and affiliate marketing newbie, dog wrestler, cat wrangler, capoeirista, and long distance runner. He lives in the Palouse with his wife, three dogs, two cats, and two rats. Yes, that would probably be considered a mini-zoo.