How to Start an E Commerce Web Based Business
Developing a website to sell and showcase products is a major venture for many small to medium businesses. It should be well planned and implemented. Many businesses fail in e commerce because either they do not have good understanding of how it works or they did not plan properly or they over- invested in it (in fact it is quite possible to DIY an e commerce website using open source software).
Setting up your ecommerce website
Plan what you want your website to do. Who will be looking at it? Identify your market. Design the website accordingly.
What information and functions do you want to provide. Ask yourself do I find it easy to find a product and purchase it on the website? Are the offers attractive for me to purchase? If you have answered no to either of these questions you need to rethink the way you want your website projected.
You need to find a server to host your website. Normally ISPs offer this service. Shop around to find the best service for the best price. It should cost you anywhere from $20.00 to $100.00 per month to host a website. The price will reflect many factors, some of these may affect the speed at which your website will operate. Most ISP’s will also support a variety of software and it is important to check that they will be able to support your website.
Have a basic structure for the website. Provide contact information, product and service information, inquiry form etc.
If you want to sell your products directly on the website you should have shopping trolley system in place where people can purchase a product and pay by credit card or an alternate method.
If you want to accept credit cards you have to create a merchant account with a bank that is providing this service.
Finally you need to find a good web design company who can build your website according to your specifications, optimise it and submit it to the search engines. This might one of the most expensive part, but it is recommended you outsource it to a good company initially and once the site is built and established you can learn to maintain it yourself or in-house.
E commerce can save time and money in many ways. Records can be managed more easily using appropriate computer programs; the need for paper can be reduced, and the amount of physical storage space can be minimized.
A well designed e-commerce website acts as a sales consultant, customer service officer and shopfront 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Although it will not replace all of your staff, it can supplement them or even replace the need to hire more people.
Communications can be managed more effectively using electronic means, whether networking within an office, or external communications via the internet, fax or other electronic means.
Success is primarily dependent upon matching appropriate electronic techniques with the right business needs.
As with any business success will be also dependent upon the right marketing methods. Marketing an Ecommerce business is quiet different to marketing a brick and mortar business. The main reason for that being the targeted customers will be people who have access to the internet and who are computer literate. So the marketing will be most effective when done on the internet, for example if you are selling plants on your website it will be an advantage to advertise on a website which has lot of gardening information. It is simple logic people who are interested in gardening are the ones who buy plants and they are the ones who look at gardening information.
It is also a very good idea to advertise on popular search engines because 90% of people search for things on search engines. So when your website is advertised on search engines, the search engines will list the websites who have paid them on the top or with a special highlighting.
You need to see e commerce solutions as tools which can be selected and used if when they are needed. Not every business will benefit from using the internet, or electronic banking, but many will. Different businesses will utilize certain techniques in different ways. For example:
· some largely populated cities can order take-away food or groceries over the internet to be delivered to their door;
· less populated areas may benefit from e-zines (online magazines), on-line training or international speciality shops where the local community would not be able to sustain these businesses operating directly out of their local business district.
As with any task in this world: you need to choose your solution to match the need. Sometimes an e commerce solution is appropriate. Sometimes it is not.
Don’t be scared of technology
Technology scares some people. Even if the boss is not scared, sometimes employees can have resistance or a negative attitude towards using an e commerce solution. Their attitude might not be obvious to the manager; but any resistance or lack of ability to deal with e commerce can impact on the success of e commerce in that business. It is important for the manager to be aware of such a situation because otherwise it will cause many repercussions which might result in the loss of time and money.
Lack of ability
Staff need to be trained.
Information Technology (including the internet) requires continuous training.
All staff need to be kept up to date with these changes –even after original training.
Want to learn more?
Consider our E Commerce Course (click here)
You may also be interested in....