4 Ways to Find Your First 50 eCommerce Customers

5 min. read
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If you’ve recently launched an eCommerce business and need to find those first 50 customers to get the ball rolling, it can be tough to figure out where to start. Your first customers are your most important—they help your business get seen and heard, and help you figure out any glitches in your processes.

But, for a startup, these customers will inevitably be difficult to get, as you have to sell them an entirely new brand. Here are four ways to make those initial sales.

1. Get noticed online

Home might seem like the wrong place to start if you’re looking to get your brand out there. However, creating content on your website and marketing it is one of the most basic and important ways to start attracting people to your brand.

By now, you’re an expert on your product. You’ve figured out how it fits into the market and why people would need or want it. So, use the content you write to speak directly to potential customers about why your product would be beneficial to them. This will not only mark you as an expert in your field, but also increase your chances of people finding you through search engines. When people search online for a product like yours, your website is more likely to come up in their results.

Remember to link to the products you write about on your blog. This will increase the chances of customers clicking through to the products to have a look at them and ultimately increase the chances of those customers making a purchase.

Once you’ve created the content, it isn’t enough to leave it on your website and hope thousands of people will find you. Reach out to relevant website owners who have a good following both on their website and on their social networks, build relationships with them and see if they’d be interested in featuring your content on their site or mentioning your brand in their content. This will expose your brand to a new audience and help garner interest in what you offer.

2. Nurture leads through email

You may not have a customer base yet, but you can start marketing your business via email to your immediate network. Who might that be, you ask? The people you know best, your family and friends. These are the people who are most likely to believe in your business from the start, and are willing to try it out and spread the word.

Start off by using a simple tool like MailChimp that allows you to store email addresses and create campaigns designed specifically for your potential customers. Send out a newsletter building up to your business launch and you’ll start to create a buzz and anticipation for your grand opening. If your business has already launched, allow people to sign up for emails via your website, and make it clear that they’ll be the first to know about new products, deals or promotions.

While email marketing can easily be misinterpreted as spam, if executed correctly it can be a highly rewarding way to connect with potential customers. Do some research into the people you’ll be emailing if they’re unknown to you and find out what they’re about and what they’re interested in.

Ensure that you lead people back to your website when you email them. There’s no point in talking about your products and then leaving your readers without a link to the ones you’ve been talking about. Link to the products you’re mentioning, to your homepage and to your blog and you’ll start to drive traffic towards your website, encouraging email subscribers to become customers.

3. Be social

Having a social media presence from the very start is vital to gaining that first batch of customers, and you don’t have to spend any money until you decide to. Figure out which social channels your potential customers use, the most popular ones being Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Then build a strategy that creates awareness about your business and ultimately first-time customers.

Having a social presence is a great way to showcase your products and promotions and encourage people to make a purchase. Facebook, for example, allows you to enable a “store” tab on your business page. Here, customers can easily flick through pictures of your products, find prices, and click through an image to the product’s page on your website.

With the average person spending almost two hours on social media daily, creating exposure for your brand on social media is imperative to any eCommerce business.

Once you’ve set up your social pages and optimized them for your business needs, find and build relationships with influencers on these channels who are willing to share your content and vice versa. An influencer with a large number of followers who shares your products will legitimize your brand and raise awareness. If you and other influencers are talking about your products, so too will online shoppers.

If you don’t have enough time to dedicate to your social posting, websites like Hootsuite allow you to create and schedule posts across your various social channels.

4. Create partnerships

While I have already spoken about creating relationships with online influencers, these aren’t the only partnerships you can make. Attend networking events with people from similar startups and industries. Get in touch with companies that customers trust and that you’d like to work with for specific reasons.

Once you’ve sought out potential connections, get in touch and emphasize a common goal and why you think it would be beneficial for both parties to work together. This will widen your immediate contact base, get your brand out there and start to gather interest in what you offer.

So, what kind of partnership could you make? Think about what your brand offers, how your customers can get hold of your products as efficiently and safely as possible, and what kind of partnership you’d need to make in order to ensure this.

If you require customers to pay online for their products, you’re more likely to have first-time site visitors complete a transaction if they’re aware that you make use of a safe, reliable and well-known payment gateway. Partner with a cross-border payments provider such as PayU, offer potential customers a secure payment process and make them aware of it. If online shoppers are aware that they can make a transaction online quickly and that their personal information will be kept secure, they are more likely to become customers.

Final thoughts

While these aren’t the only ways to attract your first 50 customers, they are some of the most basic and important ways to get your eCommerce business rolling. The most important customers are your first, and while they may be the most difficult to attract, it is an exciting time in your business’s evolution.

Once you’ve gained those first 50, listen to their feedback, suggestions and comments, and you’ll be able to fine-tune any processes that need work and offer an efficient and enjoyable experience for future customers.


About the author
Simon Slade
CEO of SaleHoo Group Limited

Simon Slade is CEO and co-founder of SaleHoo, a platform for eCommerce entrepreneurs that offers 8,000+ dropship and wholesale suppliers, 1.6 million high-quality, branded products at low prices, an industry-leading market research tool and 24-hour support.

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