The Best Small Business Ecommerce Solutions
How Do I Know If I'm Ready to Start Building My Online Store?
There are many concerns when launching a new business, and one of the main points to consider will be how and where you sell your products and services. Building an e-commerce online store is something that many vendors choose to do in the early stages of planning a business, and unfortunately, they can run into many common mistakes due to jumping in too quickly.
It is extremely easy to get started building your e-commerce website with dedicated builders such as Shopify or BigCommerce, but how do you know you’re ready to get designing?
1. Do you know exactly what you will be selling in your online store?
Marketing expert Chloe Thomas suggests that “Right now the most successful online businesses are those at either end of the product range scope – either department stores or the very, very niche”. Take a look at what your proposal is. Will it fill a target audience clearly? Does it have a unique selling point which no one else currently satisfies?
These are important things to answer yes to before you get started, as running an e-commerce website can become expensive. You want to give your business the best chance of success. If your current business plan involves selling more than one type of product or a wide range of services, you might want to consider scaling this back while you find your feet, and then expanding your business once you have built some success and found an audience for your company.
2. Will you be selling in a physical location as well, or just online?
If you are launching a business purely online, you have free rein when it comes to the design of your website, and can choose freely from the various themes, colors and design features which e-commerce web builders offer. If you already sell offline in a physical store, you may want to build on your existing branding, copying colour schemes or incorporating existing logos into your online presence. Will you use your website to drive foot traffic to your store, or offer location based services to those customers in your physical vicinity? If your website is the sole place your business is found, you might want to focus more on SEO and driving traffic to your online storefront, as your success relies on page views and bumping your visibility in the search rankings. These are all extra points to consider.
3. How do you want your customers to interact with you?
Some online stores are a platform to showcase talent and design, like the portfolio website of a photographer or a designer. This is a place for your potential customers to browse what you have to offer, before getting in touch directly to place an order for a product or a service, often with custom specifications. Although these websites might have some functionality to buy directly, they are a far cry from a fully functional online store, and will need more focus put on customer service options. You might want to consider added features like a live chat embedded into the store itself. On the other end of the spectrum is the kind of e-commerce website that does not need any one to one customer service at all. With product images and prices, payment gateways and shipping options incorporated, your customers can make an order from shopping trolley to confirmation email, without ever needing to speak to you directly. These websites need more consideration and features, but do not work for all business models, especially if you are offering a customizable service or product.
4. Do you know who you are selling to?
Online stores are a great way to expand business outside of your local vicinity, which can be an excellent reason to build an e-commerce store, especially for those who have launched a small business selling from home. Suddenly your business can be found all around the globe. But selling internationally comes with added considerations, and more functionality to include on your website. If you are looking to sell internationally, make sure your payment options support a varied range of credit card payments, including PayPal for the most trusted name in financial transactions. Multiple currency options or languages can be supported from your store if you choose the right web builder. Shipping and handling options can be integrated easily with the right widget or add in, as long as you make sure from the outset that your website builder supports these additional features.
Once you’ve considered these important factors, you should be in a much more educated place to start choosing the right e-commerce website builder for your online store. Have fun, and good luck!