Considerations for Building an E-commerce Site
We all know the rise and rise of e-commerce has changed the way we shop. People can now use their tablet to buy aspirin, book cinema tickets through their TV set, or order running shoes and low fat yoghurt without leaving their sofa.
If e-commerce has changed the way we buy, it has also changed the way we sell. Amazon is the behemoth, but e-commerce isn’t confined to established retailers.
Technically, anyone can do it.
Due to the relative ease in getting started, more and more ordinary people are exploring the possibility of establishing their own e-commerce site. There are, however, a few important issues to consider when setting up your first store.
Considering the following before contacting your designer will help them to produce your site the way you want it, quicker.
There are a number of options when it comes to accepting payment on your e-commerce store, with four possibilities being Authorize, Paypal, Stripe, and Balanced. Each brings their pros and cons for both buyer and seller.
A good deal of research into which is best for you is necessary, as variations between the different services might include:
- ease of use for both buyer and seller
- tiered or flat transaction or monthly fees
- how trusted the gateway is among the buying public
- if they provide an escrow system
- whether you (the seller) can make payments directly from the account
- how long it takes to withdraw money to your own bank
Additionally, and with a whole new set of pros and cons, you can allow customers to make standard credit card payments too.
Once you’ve completed a transaction, your product will need to be shipped to your customer.
Presuming you want to maximize profits and be able to scale up in the future, this will need to include more than just packing it in a box yourself and sending it in the mail with a handwritten delivery address attached.
E-commerce sites offer the ability to print a delivery address label and packing slip as the order is received, helping to automate the process.
Your choice of shipping agent matters too, and you will have to again research which one best fits your business. Factors that might see you lean towards USPS, FedEx, UPS or another might be:
- the size and weight of your package
- the lead time
- overseas delivery prices
- the ability to provide a tracking number to your customer
Using a reliable, cost efficient courier will be key to your business success, as will your method of covering shipping costs.
Will there be a flat rate, or will it vary depending on the weight and destination of your package?
Or do you want to provide your customers with a real time shipping calculator when they buy?
Marketing new products
If you are going to sell anything on your e-commerce site, people are going to need to know it’s there. Organic traffic from good SEO practices is important, but the real value is in marketing to people who already know and are interested in your store, and who have perhaps bought from you in the past.
Do you want an automated system that posts information about new products to your social media, to keep your followers informed when you have new lines available?
Social media is a good way to advertise to your existing fan base, but the real value in marketing is in an email list. Anybody subscribing for regular email updates, be that a monthly newsletter or whenever a new product is made available, will be doing so out of genuine interest.
Placing a ‘Subscribe’ box on your site is vital, but what incentives can you offer to encourage people to use it?
Getting repeat visits to your site without reaching out is also possible by making sure your products and offers are updated regularly. Offering weekly or daily deals is a way to attract more frequent visits by customers.
Organizing your business
The level of automation possible on an e-commerce site is really where the beauty lies in the business model, although not every level of this comes for free.
Third party accounting software like QuickBooks can be integrated into your site to keep track of your finances, while you concentrate on the selling.
Do you want to automate the printing of shipping invoices and the sending of customer tracking numbers?
Will you email your customers personally on receipt of an order, or use an auto-responder that merges their name into the message where applicable?
E-commerce solutions from Halfslide Design
Once you’ve decided how you want your e-commerce business to be set up, Halfslide Design can help you achieve your aim. It is possible for websites to be custom built, and there are off-the-shelf shopping cart platforms too, such as WooCommerce or Magento.
Halfslide Design can customize these to your specifications.
Considering all of the options above in advance will help you to receive a more accurate estimate, timeframe, and idea of how your site will look and perform once built.0