Without an Internet presence in today’s business world you may as well not exist. Having a website URL to give to customers is as expected now as having a phone number. For retail businesses, the ability to make purchases online as well, if not expected, is definitely appreciated. This is due to the fact that ecommerce sales are increasing by nearly 20 percent a year, according to research conducted by Invesp.
As more and more people and websites accommodate online shopping into the status quo, we will certainly see these numbers rise. Shopping online, and even from mobile devices, is simply more convenient, and in our fast-paced technologically-driven world, convenience is a hot commodity.
Your options are to set up your own ecommerce site or to hock your wares on an established marketplace like Amazon, Ebay, or Etsy, which comes with its own list of pros and cons. A quick word on the pros and cons of ecommerce.
- Opens your business to a broader customer base
- Not limited to selling products locally
- Profit potential increased to global scale
- No closing hours (your site is always open for business)
- Decreased overhead (no need to lease storefront/hire employees)
- Products can be shipped direct from manufacturer
- Digitally scalable as opposed to physical growth requirements
- Lack of face-to-face interpersonal rapport
- Extreme competition online
- The threat of service outages interrupting business
Consider these ups and downs as you look into setting up your ecommerce shop. Here’s what you need to do it!
Ecommerce Site Must-Haves
Here is a short, basic checklist to have on hand as you’re making your ecommerce business plan.
- Products or services to sell. Online, your products can be physical or digital. We won’t get into what you should sell or how, as that’d be the subject of another post altogether. But, obviously, if you’re looking into setting up an ecommerce site, the chances are you already have an idea of what to sell.
- Domain name. This will either match your business name or is your business name (ex. Woot.com). Usually, you can purchase a domain from your hosting company, which leads into the next item on the list.
- Hosting service provider. For most new ecommerce sites, virtual hosting is an especially economical option. You can easily upgrade and eventually settle on something cloud-based that will expand with the demands of your traffic.
- Website. Your options here include hiring a graphic designer or finding an intuitive template that allows you to incorporate a shopping cart and a means to take payments. Your website should include all of the following:
a. Compelling design
b. Effective copy that converts
c. Searchable product base with images
d. Shopping cart
e. Links to social media
f. Way to subscribe to newsletter for special offers
- Shopping cart. You don’t need to be a developer anymore to start an ecommerce website. You only need access to shopping cart software or plugins (WordPress’ Woocommerce).
- Merchant services provider. You’ll need a merchant account to take payments from customers online. A merchant services provider acts as the liaison between you, the customer, and the credit card companies, allowing you to process credit card payments and collect funds.
- Marketing. You’ll need this element in order to help people find your website online. Remember all that competition we mentioned earlier? All of this competition generally has SEO and marketing plans in place in order to win high placement on the search engines and attract traffic. This traffic will eventually convert to sales if the website is created effectively and they have all the other enticements necessary in making a sale.
Jump on the ecommerce bandwagon now! The Internet is rampant with all the tools and methods to do it right and make money. What have you found to be the greatest hang-up in your ecommerce pursuits? Share in the comments!
Brooks, Chad. “E-Commerce Websites: How to Start an Online Business.” http://www.businessnewsdaily.com/4707-ecommerce-website-guide.html. (January 29, 2015.)