How we too can create a business like Alibaba?

Starting an online business is easy. You only have to find a need and fill it. Building a successful one, however, requires you to choose the right strategy and the right tools. If you want to grab your customers’ attention, constructing a website, figuring out what goods/services you want to provide and setting up a system for processing sales isn’t enough. You must run, promote, monitor and improve your business, establish an online presence by standing out from your competitors and make sure that your customers are completely satisfied (secure their loyalty).

For an inspirational role model who has done all of this, we need to look no further than Jack Ma, founder of Alibaba. His success story can teach us so much. In this article, we look at the story of Jack Ma and tell you his secrets. Here’s what you have to do to start an online business, the Ja Ma way.

You have to meet a need

To identify e-commerce market opportunities, you must conduct your own market research. Find out if there is demand for the product or service you want to sell. One way to do this is by conducting keyword research or examining social media to find out what consumers are searching for and talking about all over the world. You must identify your customers’ needs and figure out exactly how you’re going to meet those needs with your product or service. An innovative product or service comes from identifying customers’ needs and providing solutions that meet those needs. You must find your niche to turn your passion into profit. ONCHEK, an e-commerce platform for luxury fashion from Africa, does this really well. They are making African luxury fashion (niche products that are hard to find locally) easily accessible to the world.

Once you have determined how you can best meet a need, visit online marketplaces such as eBay, Amazon and Alibaba, and take note of ideas and approaches that you may want to use. You need to familiarise yourself with other online businesses (not just your competitors). In Alibaba’s World, a book by the ex-VP of Alibaba Porter Erisman, we learn that when Jack Ma started Alibaba, there was barely an internet in China. Nobody had computers. Jack Ma was introduced to the Internet during his first visit to the United States. He recognised that the rise of the Internet presented a new world of opportunities for China, and set out to empower Chinese sellers and buyers by giving them the ability to conduct commercial transactions online through Alibaba. Now it is the biggest e-commerce marketplace in the world. Moreover, 80% of adults in China’s biggest cities now shop online.

When you’re ready to launch your website (don’t rush), all you need to do to set up shop is buy a domain name, sign up with a hosting service and create your Web pages. (Don’t be afraid to hire a web developer if you can’t do the design or programming work by yourself. If you’re looking for an online shop management system, we recommend MyShop, a selling platform powered by WooCommerce.)

You have to be unique

In order to build a loyal audience that emotionally connects with you, you need a value proposition. Your company’s value proposition is the reason consumers buy your products or services. Offering free shipping like Nordstrom, adding live help on your site like ModCloth, offering a 364-day return policy like Zappos, making recommendations based on past purchases and browsing history like Amazon and making your email marketing campaign unforgettable like Walmart are just some examples of effective value propositions.

Providing a solution to a problem for free in the beginning, like Alibaba did, is another way to make yourself really stand out. E-commerce giant eBay entered China in 2004 and Jack Ma decided to launch competing for online shopping website Taobao to keep eBay from taking Alibaba’s customers. Not only was Taobao free to use, it understood Chinese customers better than eBay. eBay did not try to fit their products or services to local customers’ tastes and preferences. It also did not understand the Chinese marketplace, advertising on the Internet even though its small business-people were unlikely to be on it. Jack Ma advertised on TV instead and captured their attention. eBay, having failed to compete, withdrew from China in 2006.

Once you have positioned yourself uniquely, you need to attract and keep your target audience. Find out what your customers want by interacting with them and determine strategies to provide it to them. E-commerce sales now account for one-tenth of total retail sales. There are millions of e-commerce websites selling products and sieves around the world today. With the e-commerce market becoming more competitive than ever before, you have to meet needs as uniquely as Jack Ma does to be as wildly successful as him.