We are often asked to build online stores, or eCommerce websites, and all the questions that go with it. It’s good to dig a little deeper to try and find out exactly why you want an online shop. Running a website is an ongoing task that requires a certain amount of learning and dedication which is often underestimated, even more so for an eCommerce site.
First you will need to define what you want to achieve by having an online store which might include answering some of the following questions:
Why do you want to sell products or services on the internet?
There is a reason for everything and every reason is different. What makes you want to run an online store to sell on the internet? Is it for the money? Is it to provide a product or service to a group of potential customers that you are passionate about? Is there a gap in a market you can fill? Thinking more about this will also open up answers to other questions you didn’t know existed. Knowing ‘why’ you are doing this will give you direction and also make things more enjoyable in the future as you will have a better idea of where you’re going.
How much do you need to sell to cover costs and make a profit?
After figuring out why you want to do this, the next most important question could be how much do you need to make from this? Will you be able to cover the cost of doing business and make a profit? Many businesses that may appear to be turning over millions of dollars in revenue may actually be only making a small percentage in profit. Doing these calculations early on will ensure you have the right numbers in place to run a successful online business.
It can be as simple as thinking about how much profit you need to make to make it all worthwhile, then working out what it will cost you to provide your products or services including expenses such as postage, wages (if you have staff) and taxes etc. Add the two together and you will have a rough idea of the total you need to turnover. Of course this is an overly simplified version. You should consult a professional to carry out these cost calculations in more detail.
Do you have products or services ready to sell?
The phrase “if you build it they will come” springs to mind, but is this alone a good enough reason to commit to the many hours of work involved to build something as complex as an online store? The two may go hand in hand but for some businesses it may be beneficial to know you have a product or service ready to go before setting up shop.
How much do you plan on selling?
There are quite a few different options when it comes to building an online shopping website. From a technical point of view, especially for physical products it can be helpful to know the amount of products you expect to have available for sale and how many you might sell. This will affect the amount of time it will take to populate the store in the initial stages and will also play a part in deciding on some of the technical aspects such as website hosting.
Do you have systems in place to handle the logistics of shipping of physical products?
Hopefully, your store will be a huge success and your products sell like hotcakes! Will you be able to handle the process of shipping and handling? Do you plan on packaging up each individual item and taking them to the post office? Will you use a 3rd party logistics provider? This will directly affect your costs and workload.
Do you have a marketing plan in place?
How do you plan on getting traffic to your website and converting traffic into sales? It’s one thing to have a shiny new website with a store, but just like a real life store you need to have visitors turning up and buying stuff.
Are you going to position yourself as a premium brand with a unique selling proposition or will you compete on price and sell high volumes? Are you doing something nobody else has done or are you doing what has already been done but better than ever before?
Marketing is an ongoing process that is constantly tweaked and tested and is paramount to a website’s success.
I hope this have given you something to think about! Having a well-oiled website that provides you with a solid income can be a rewarding experience. By asking a few simple questions at the beginning, you could save yourself a whole lot of time and energy.