Get a professionally designed online shop with the same amazing features as the big stores for a lot less than you think.
Reach new customers by selling online
Why should you consider selling your products online with your own ecommerce website?
- Low cost compared to traditional “bricks and mortar” shops (no rent, rates, bills etc)
- An online shop is “open” 24 hours a day / 365 days a year.
- National or even International customer base.
- Freedom – there is no counter to stand behind all day so you can get on with other things.
So having an online shop is obviously an attractive option but there can be some pitfalls and there are no guarantees of success – long gone are the days of “If you build it – they will come.”
There are also choices to be made before you start to build your online store – we’ll go through a few of them below…
Lets look at some of the choices you need to make before starting an online shop
Choosing the best software platform for you.
At the moment we usually recommend 3 ecommerce platforms to our clients depending on their needs, chosing the correct platform now can save the hassle and expense of changing to another platform further down the line.
The 3 platforms / software packages we currently advise using are:
WooCommerce is a plug in for the excellent WordPress CMS system and can itself be expanded by a huge number of it’s own plugins. The beauty of woocommerce is that it can easily be managed by you and updates to the system can be applied easily using the WordPress upgrades system. We usually recommend WooCommerce to online startups but it can be just as effective for larger stores.
Zencart is an often overlooked eCommerce platform but we love it here at Total Web Development. Having used it for many years we know the code inside and out. It’s an extrememly powerful PCI compliant system but does need a developer to get the most out of it. Using the system day to day is easy enough but tweaking things can be a little over the head of most clients.
Magento is extremely powerful and can be expanded using plugins, it powers some of the larger online stores and has grown in popularity in the last few years. It is a “professional” grade platform which means that it can be a little daunting to get used to – but once you do it’s great. Because of it’s professional nature and the amount of resources it can use on a day to day basis we advise a higher grade hosting plan than normal or Magento can run quite slowly.
Do you know your shipping / postage costs?
Postage costs are one of the most commonly overlooked aspects of selling online – a lot of prospective online shop owners get so carried away with shop design, finding suppliers and marketing that they overlook postage and it’s a complicated thing to miss…
Do you know how you are going to send your products to your customers? Are you going to use the good old UK post office or use a courier?
Do you know the cost of sending your products to your customers? If you are on a tight margin then postage costs can leave you with zero profit (or worse).
Do you know where you will send your goods to? Do you post your products internationally and if so – do you know the cost to each country? If you are sending your products to UK addresses only – do you know the costs for outlying areas like Jersey or the Isle of Man?
We could go on and on about the pitfalls of postage costs but we think you have the idea by now – have a clear plan of how much you want to charge for what and to where….
How will you take payments online?
There are various payment options available to the online shop owner, whichever you chose depends on your volume of transactions and what you feel your customers will be most happy with.
The most popular online payment system there is… Customers buy products from your website and are then taken to the paypal website to pay – they can use their own paypal account if they have one or their debit / credit card if they don’t. PayPal charges a % per transaction to use their service.
Payment gateway (worldpay, sagepay etc)
These dedicated services are linked to large banks and allow your customers to securely enter their credit / debit card details to pay. Charges vary so shop around.
Using Paypal or another payment gateway is an automated process for you and your customers, once the payment has been confirmed the gateway will send the customer back to your website and the website will automatically know that payment was sucessful – the order is marked as “processing” and the customer recieves a receipt for their payment
Other options include bank transfers and cheques – you can accept these online but they are not automatic… the customers order will remain as “pending” and you will need to manually confirm the payment once you recieve the funds.
You can accept any of these methods on your online store and even a combination of them to give your customers choice…