Is your business ready to start selling online?
It can often seem like you’re nobody in business today unless you are selling online. However, if you are just starting a business, it can be all too easy to rush into creating an online store, and that can often lead to mistakes that you’ll end up regretting later.
The latest eCommerce platforms, such as Shopify, make setting up a store easier than ever, but how do you know if you’re ready to take the leap into online trading?
Defining your market
The first key to assessing your eCommerce readiness is to decide what exactly you plan to sell. This might sound obvious, but for smaller businesses, unfocused stores tend to be less successful than those that concentrate on a specific product category. You need to think carefully about which market you’re targeting and whether you have a unique selling point (USP) that will make your store stand out from the crowd.
If you are planning to sell more than one type of product, you might want to think about introducing them gradually so you don’t overload the store in the beginning.
Bricks and clicks
Will you be only selling online, or will you also be selling things in a physical location? This matters because if your business is entirely online, you are free to design your site as you wish. If you have physical stores, however, you’ll need to ensure that the website reflects the same image, color schemes, and logos.
You also need to think about whether you’ll be using the site to drive trade to the physical store – perhaps by offering services such as in-store pickup – or whether the two operations are largely distinct.
If you’re only selling online, you might need to place more emphasis on getting your SEO correct in order to drive additional traffic to your website.
Are you selling directly?
Some websites simply act as stores, allowing customers to buy products directly online. Not all enterprises work like this, however. If you happen to be a designer or an artist, you might want to use your online presence in a different way.
For this type of business, the web can act as a showcase. It allows potential clients to browse examples of the type of work you do before contacting you directly to set out their requirements or place an order. In this case, you need to pay particular attention to how people are going to contact you. Offering a live chat facility is a good option, but you also need to make it easy for customers to contact you by email or phone.
A lot of online businesses start out small. Many of them are people working and selling their products from home. Trading online brings the opportunity to transform your business from something local into something global. There are extra considerations to take into account when doing this.
Perhaps most importantly, you need the ability to accept payments in other currencies. Services such as PayPal and WorldPay make this straightforward, but do make sure you understand any fees that you might have to pay for currency conversions.
You also have to consider the extra costs involved in international shipping. Good site builder packages will often provide a module that you can add to make calculating these costs easier while offering customers a range of shipping options.
Setting up an online store shouldn’t be difficult, but if it’s going to be successful, it is important to plan carefully and consider the aforementioned factors before you begin setting it up.