eCommerce is not just the wave of the future, but it is the wave of the present. This means that if you have a product and you are not selling it online then you are already behind the bell curve and lagging behind your competition. But there is still time, because the world of selling online just keeps growing and growing.
In fact, online retail sales increased in 2014 by almost 16% over 2013 (Gleeson & Oxford, 2014), at it is still growing. Amazing! What is even more amazing is that traditional, in-store retail sales only increased by about 4% (Gleeson & Oxford, 2014) in the same period - this means that online retail sales are far outperforming traditional in-store sales.
If you have an existing company or product now is the time to jump on this online bandwagon and ramp up your sales. But before you get started you need to do some serious research to protect yourself and ensure that you do things correctly, the first time. The following tips will start you down the path towards success:
1. Analyze and Understand the Product for which you are Developing a Website
You need to really understand the product that you are selling before you create a website. This means understand how it works, why it will be desired by people, who the target market it, and what considerations there are for shipping.
In addition, think through what other products might eventually be sold on the website; keeping your website scalable is important.
2. Analyze your Target Area and Demographic
It is important to think through who will be interested in your project and how you can best attract this person. A website designed to appeal to children will look very different than one for retired people, and one for teens very different than one for parents of teens.
Think about who your audience is, what style they like, and if you have a mixed audience what design features you can use to hit both audiences at once.
3. Know your Competition
It is important to do a basic review of what your competition has to offer, what audience they are targeting, and what their website looks like. You can glean ideas from your competition, and you can also find ways to differentiate and ensure that your site stands out.
4. Select the Appropriate Platform for Development
Consider the best place to put your site. There are many things to consider here, and you will need more research. But consider if you want to have your own url or just exist on a larger host site, do you want your own server, do you want to be .com, .net, etc.? There are many things to consider with the actual choosing of a platform and web design.
5. Estimate the Funds and Product Available for Development
As you develop your plan it is important to ensure that you have enough money to follow through. For example, if you have little starting capital then having your own server is not an option. If you need to make your product by hand then offering overnight shipping is probably not going to work.
Two things here. First, create a budget and ensure it balances. Second, if you need more money look for ways to raise capital. Often, new business owners fund the business with their own cash. Perhaps you can take out a 401K loan, or sell structured settlements payments, or cash in a few stocks.
Ensuring adequate cash flow for website development and running the business is paramount.
6. Choose the Suitable Payment Gateway
Look for the best way to accept payments. Accepting credit cards can get expensive, but there are other options that can be cheaper and easier, such as iPay, Google Wallet, or PayPal. Even Amazon has started to function as a payment gateway for outside websites, so review your options considering cost, value, security and ease of use.
Creating an eCommerce site is not particularly difficult, but if you are not careful there are pitfalls that you can fall into which can completely destroy your competitive edge and profits. The above points are imperative for you to know, but there is much more than can be described in a single article, so keep doing your research before you jump into the online world too quickly.