Last updated - November 12, 2020
Much of today’s innovation and market share are powered and owned by startups and small businesses. And even with the risk and failure rate of these underdog establishments, they still account for a huge chunk of GDP and employment numbers.
It is safe to say that much of today’s business and investment moves are startup-focused. Still, even with appropriate funding and a stellar business idea or service, many companies fail.
If you are already running or plan to run an eCommerce business, you probably understand failure more than most. The eCommerce industry has an alarming failure rate of around 80%, even though the industry is valued at a combined B2C and B2B estimate of almost $10 trillion.
So how do eCommerce businesses get it right? How do they start to build a store that will succeed, hit revenue, and profit? This is where the concept of the Minimum Viable Product (MVP) approach comes in.
What is the MVP approach?
In his book, The Lean Startup, Ries coined the term. He essentially describes the MVP as the simplest possible way to gather real-market consumer behavioral data on your prototype product or service.
In other words, an MVP is the best vehicle for getting real-world feedback on your business idea. Generally, if your MVP fails to take root with its ideal customers, then the business idea isn’t viable.
The MVP approach is an excellent cushion to have in business for both the business owner and potential investors. This saves them from potentially throwing away a lot of money and resources on an idea that isn’t viable.
So how do you go about building the prototype iteration of your business? And how do you do this with the lowest possible monetary investment?
For most eCommerce startups — and in other industries, this answer is to build an MVP site using WordPress. If your business idea functions best as an app, you can also utilize an app MVP builder.
An MVP website is the most efficient vehicle for testing and showcasing your idea to your target market.
An MVP site also allows you to rely on user interactions to identify whether you should ditch your business idea or scale and improve it. You can leverage real user feedback via A/B testing and tweaking of features, design elements, and product/services iterations.
Opting for WordPress when building your MVP website is a no-brainer. WordPress powers a considerable chunk of the internet, and there’s a reason for that.
Besides affordability, design flexibility, robust features, and premium Search Engine compatibility, WordPress website design benefits are numerous.
Building a WordPress store using the MVP approach is ideal for your store’s success. We’ve outlined a few simple and straightforward steps to help you achieve this.
Sort out your MVP site domain name and hosting
You can’t have your MVP site up and running without a domain name and a web hosting provider. Sort these out first.
With your hosting provider, this is not the time to go for broke; you’re still testing out the business idea. So opt for a reputable provider, trustworthy, has sound social proof, and affordable hosting plans. Cheap and efficient are the keywords here. Providers like A2Hosting, BlueHost, and SiteGround are good options.
As for your domain name, find something that accurately describes your business, without making it too specific. You want your domain name to be just the right amount of generic to allow for scaling and product diversification in the future.
Also, keep it short and simple so that it’s easy to remember. Avoid weird naming conventions like using “9t” in place of “night” or “8” in place of “ate” in the bid to be creative. And make sure you go for a .com extension.
No tinkering. Opt for an MVP WordPress theme
After you have set up your WordPress on your domain and hosted it, it’s time to bring your business idea to life via website design.
Naturally, the process of designing a website has many moving parts, even if you’re using WordPress, which requires little to no coding knowledge.
You have to be intentional about your PSD images, selection of theme color, fonts, creation of wireframe for your web pages, and the actual front development process.
Alternatively, for an MVP approach, go for an already made WordPress theme. Make sure to select one that best reflects your store niche and business idea.
Thankfully, there are tons of MVP WordPress themes that you can choose. You will find many options, whether your MVP is a one-page website or a fully functional multi-page site.
You can customize it as needed after selection. Also, consider importing demo content to know what your site will look and feel like with content on it.
Activate selling for your MVP with WooCommerce
With your MVP website set up, you need to activate your products and services. It is your ability to sell that triggers interaction between your MVP and your target audience.
This interaction is how you gather data about your product/service sentiment, market demand, competitor level and identity, and more. Thankfully, with a WordPress MVP, you can easily activate selling features using a WooCommerce plugin like Query Monitor.
You can follow the easy steps in the WooCommerce 101 video series to get this done. You can also enable Stripe, PayPal, or other payment gateways if you want to start generating revenue from your store.
Use your MVP to gather user response feedback and queries
While your MVP is about presenting your store idea to your audience, it’s also about making sure that what you’re presenting works for them. And you can’t achieve this if you don’t create a simplified avenue to receive feedback from them.
With an MVP WordPress site, you can add contact form plugins easily to make this happen. It could be on a traditional Contact Us page, an onsite chat function, or a page to directly ask for honest product reviews from your site visitors. Check out Ninja Forms, and WP Forms, are useful plugins to consider here.
Integrate Google Analytics to gauge real-time user browsing behavior and patterns
Using contact forms or live chat to gather customer feedback and queries is an excellent first step, but it’s not enough. You should also track user behavior as they browse your website.
The MonsterInsights plugin on WordPress will help you integrate Google Analytics for your MVP site. It takes just a few clicks to set it up with all the standard web analytics features active.
Google Analytics will reveal:
- Your daily/monthly visitor numbers
- The average time they spend on your site
- The pages they spend most of their time on
- The site elements they interact most with
- The geographic location they are visiting from
- The places they visit before and after your website, and more
With these data, you can gauge and estimate user response to your products/services to an extent. This wouldn’t be possible without adequate web analytics.
Optimize your MVP for search activities
If you’re not running paid campaigns for traffic, then you’re getting them organically. These are the two significant ways websites gain traffic.
Your target audience won’t come to you if you don’t make yourself visible and available in search engines. Your MVP site needs to be ranking for the right keywords pertaining to your store.
It takes a while for the SEO process to push you to the top of search results pages. So provided you’re doing your SEO right, the only other thing you need is patience and consistency.
Going full-throttle with your business without adequate prior testing is like going blindfolded into a war front. You will get beat down.
So take your time to adequately test your business with an MVP website using the steps above. The next step to take will be more apparent after this.