Things to Think About
If you're a small business already selling on the internet you have probably already through trial and error figured out what you didn't think of initially. It's really not as easy as just throwing up a great looking site, offering products and/or services, and letting customers come to you. There are so many options and choices when it comes to fitting an online businesses needs that discovering those needs is critical to ensure your operation from order to delivery meets not only yours but your customers expectations.
What is it that you sell?
Pretty basic, right? Maybe not. Do you physically have the product and are responsible for packaging and shipping or as some do utilize some sort of affiliate program for your store where orders need to be sent to another entity that fulfills the order? Do you have different variations of the same product that need to be offered and displayed on the site? Do you need a store with some sort of stock control? And, do you have images of your products and each variation that are suitable for displaying? Have you thought about who you plan on using as a shipper and if you want to incorporate free shipping on all orders, some orders based on say purchase cost, a mix of both, and do you want to connect to a shippers website to get real time quotes to be incorporated into the checkout? Do you have weights and package sizing for all of your products? Do you want to run coupons/discounts on products based on different criteria? Do you have or need a merchant account for processing credit cards, want to use PayPal, or are familiar with PayPals ability to process credit cards for you as well? Do you need the store to integrate with something like QuickBooks or if you have a brick and mortar operation as well do you want it to integrate with your already existing POS application(s). And, what type of taxes, if any, do you need to collect at the point of sale? Are you going to have tiers of customers like resellers, wholesalers, etc., all with their own price points? Are you prepared to be in constant contact with potential customers via email and or would you like to incorporate a live chat option?
The previous questions are really just an awareness check for while it's a pretty good assumption at this point you have determined many of your goals for your business and how to achieve them some of the nitty-gritty stuff needs to be addressed for a successful online presence. There are many different e-commerce applications/storefronts that TVWebDesigns work with where we want to match with you the best to not only fit your needs now but in the future as well. If you haven't already the next time you decide to purchase something online think of the full process with each click and what information is being sent and where and how you as a web site owner would like that information presented not only to the customer but mainly to you. Almost all online businesses are using some type of pre-built store with the core functionality already there so the wheel does not have to be reinvented and also to reduce the cost of building from scratch. The functionality that is needed in your store and modifications to it will dictate the overall cost but the good news is that there are some pretty powerful options out there which won't break the bank or even without monthly expenses beyond just your hosting costs. TVWebDesigns is not a reseller of any platform so we'll utilize the best option for you.
Must Haves For E-Commerce
- Fast and mobile responsive: Your customers often are buying online to avoid the long drive or lines at the store. They aren't going to wait for a slow loading store or one they can't access or navigate on their phone.
- High quality product images: Speaks for itself and is a main driver towards a customers decision in a purchase. The ability to zoom in, multiple angle and variant(blue, red, black, etc.) images are a must for many products.
- Detailed product information: Display accurate information about your product coupled with the ability to communicate with you via email and/or chat about the product are paramount to letting the customer there is someone behind their purchase. You don't want the product coming back due to inaccurate information. Display whether or not the product is in stock early in the check out process.
- Competitive shipping options: Cost of doing business but we all do it in creating an order to fly through a checkout experience to see what the cost of shipping is. Be as competitive as you can with this cost and never increase shipping charges as a way to increase revenue. Adding free shipping at a certain total purchase price should be heavily considered.
- Comprehensive navigation and product search: If they can't find it you won't sell it.
- Ratings and review: Online shoppers feel more at ease when unbiased reviews of your product and purchase experience are readily available.