According to Investopedia, Electronic commerce (website eCommerce) is a type of business model, or segment of a larger business model, that enables a firm or individual to conduct business over an electronic network, typically the internet.
To us mere mortals in small business it is mostly the business model, not part of a larger one.
Firstly, do you know what you want to sell? Sounds obvious but choosing the right product at the start will be the key to your success. Investigate the market – does it really need it, or do you simply think it does. Do yourself a real favour – don’t ask friends and family, their response is always going to be skewed one way or another. Go to a high street, ask people out there. Strangers, if you ask enough of them, will give you a more realistic answer to the question.
Next question, do you buy stock or go for the dropship option? Buying stock creates the cash flow question – will you have enough to stay in business until the business takes off? Dropshipping on the other hand gives you the ability to keep your money in your pocket while reducing your risk by allowing the sale of goods on other parties’ terms and conditions. You also don’t have to worry about returns. The trick is to find a company that will not sell to the public or you risk achieving one-time sales only. A word of warning, investigate thoroughly any business you choose to do business with; make sure their reputation is a positive one and that it has a history you can see clearly.
So, you have a product and a process of sale. Now for the website. Ten years ago an eCommerce website would set you back a pretty penny, in the region of £30-50,000. Today, if you have the skills it might set you back a mere couple of hundred pounds. Most people do not have these skills so it is a matter of finding someone that is affordable enough to make your dreams a reality. In the past I have talked about people being fleeced by website designers, taking advantage of their naïvety, it is the basis of my business – don’t take advantage of the customer!
Websites can be built quite easily, even eCommerce ones. The real trick is to ensure the content is ready, and that’s the job of the client. Informational websites are relatively easy to fill with great content. eCommerce websites need more consideration, not just data input for the product listings, etc. but also to consider what sort of website you want it to be. Do you want a simple shop or do you want the customer to have a unique experience when they come to you, get led by the nose around all of your glorious marketing before settling on a product. Do you want to up-sell, cross-sell, or do you want a quick, repeatable sale?
That’s right. Marketing considerations are the biggest question to answer – and that’s before you even consider the website build. Any website developer worth their salt will want you to have these questions already answered before they start talking – or you’re definitely in for a big bill at the end of it.
If you want help working any of this through, get in touch with me and I’ll help you move forward.