Taking the plunge with selling online

The Coronavirus pandemic has forced all businesses to adapt in at least a few ways, but many have had to take their entire offering online.

This has left a lot of people asking about the most efficient way to get a business online, the costs involved and what to expect.

This article outlines some key considerations if you are looking to take the leap by building a new eCommerce website and get your online sales pouring in.

Is my product suitable or can I adapt it for an online eCommerce website?

The first and most obvious question (which you will have already asked yourself), is whether your product or service can actually be sold online. Online businesses are no longer limited to selling physical products or software services. We’ve seen so many creative ways that businesses have adapted. Online puppy training classes, virtual events, business coaching or locally made cakes. Pretty much anything can be delivered safely within restrictions in some way so it’s important that you are clear on how your product or service is going to be packaged.

Can I do it myself or do I need a professional website designer or developer?

You can absolutely build an entire eCommerce online business without dedicated expertise but be prepared to invest a lot of time into it. Platforms like Shopify, Wix and Squarespace all allow you to design and build an eCommerce website. If you have a low initial budget and a simple product then there is not much holding you back.

Common pitfalls with do-it-yourself website platforms are: 

  • Lack of content or experience in how to present your offering
  • Higher percentage of sales revenue taken by chosen platform
  • Lack of flexibility in template design
  • No dedicated support or professional management

What other platforms are there?

If you are looking to commission an eCommerce website then professional designers and web developers will open up a range of options. 

Some are specialist, like Magento. Aimed at online retailers who have more demanding requirements. Magento can be more complex to work with so it does attract higher budgets so there really needs to be good justification to pick this route. 

WooCommerce is a more widely adopted option. The go-to WordPress eCommerce solution. As WordPress is so widely adopted there is a whole ecosystem of plugins and support that make WooCommerce a flexible and efficient way to get your business selling online.

There are also occasions where eCommerce platforms might be built from the ground up. There can be more work involved in building things that have been built before but it does allow a completely bespoke approach if your product is quite unique.

What else do I need to think about?

Often designing and building an eCommerce website will raise a lot of questions about business processes and logistics. From shipping to promotions, here are a few things to consider:

  • Do you have defined shipping rates based on quantity, weight and destination?
  • Will you ship only to UK mainland or will you ship to the EU and rest of the world. If so, then what are the implications of charging VAT and delivery?
  • Will you used just a card payment facility or take PayPal payments? Perhaps you will allow trade orders on account as well.
  • Will you offer gift vouchers or promotional discount codes?
  • Are your products configurable, simple, downloadable or even virtual?
  • Do you plan to manage a mailing list opt-in for customers?
  • Will customers have the option to have their own account and to track orders?

Sometimes eCommerce websites can be very simple but they can also involve complexity if not thought through. We have a track record of building a range of eCommerce websites for a variety of businesses and would be happy to share our experience and offer advice. Contact us if you would like to discuss any aspect of taking your business online.

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