Online shopping has become a fixed part of the modern life; in fact it seems consumers now expect to purchase almost anything off the internet. And the truth is – this trend is growing even with the changing preference of consumers for mobile purchases.
The question is what is ecommerce store and why should you care? An ecommerce or online store is a business model that sells to consumer through the internet while receiving payment through payment gateways. Over the years consumers are making more purchases off the internet and this trend is expected to keep going up. According to a recent report, the U.S. e-commerce market became the second largest globally only behind China and is expected to reach $482 billion in sales by 2018 – that’s about 8 percent of total retail sales. Mobile purchases hit $75 billion in 2016 alone and with the increasing penetration of smart phones and e-commerce sites optimizing for mobiles – this figure is sure to keep rising.
So you see there’re vast opportunities to be tapped here – in fact one important selling feature of e-commerce is its promise for increased reach and non-geographic restriction. This means a small neighborhood store with an online store can easily reach more customers regardless of where they may be located.
But the thing is – before going into setting up your e-com site there’re several decisions you need to take, there’s the planning to be made and you don’t want to be caught unawares by unforeseen events. To help you prepare as best as you can, we’ve listed out the important things we think you need to know before venturing into setting up your online store.
Choosing the best E-commerce platform for your business
This’s probably the most critical decision you’ll have to make – since the platform serves as the base on which your entire ecomm business will rest on. You’d have to decide to either go for self-hosted option or for a hosted option.
Any one you finally choose you’ll find there’re myriad of services available to choose from. For self-hosting you’ll have to choose between Woocommerce, Prestashop, Magento, etc. and for hosted platforms: Shopify, Volusion, etc.
It’s important to choose the platform that suits your business needs while offering the flexibility to grow with you.
What logistics plan do you have in place?
Getting the first sale is important but it’s not the whole story – your customers want their orders delivered as quickly as possible.
Setting up an online store requires you figure out the most efficient way to deliver orders to your customers, with the lest of efforts and minimal cost. So it’s something you really need to think about. Do you plan on partnering with existing logistics companies like Ups, FedEx, etc. or do you plan on setting up your own delivery structure?
How will you receive payments?
This used to be a major challenge for online stores – but with the proliferation of tools and plugins accepting payments has become a lot easier. However, we recommend making sure you’re using a one-page check-out.
This has been shown to improve completed transactions and reduce the rate of cart abandonment – this is because of the improved consumer experience.
Also it’s important to integrate payment gateways that are easy to use. Think of PayPal, Stripe, etc.
What marketing plans do you have?
Finally, it’s not enough to just set up an e-commerce store and hope for the best. You need a marketing plan. Do you have to hire in-house internet marketers or outsource to an agency? This question depends on how much capital and operating cash is available to you.
Starting an e-commerce business is a great way to either expand the reach of your existing brick-and-mortar store or get into the entrepreneurial game – whatever may be your reason, it’s important you set quality time to plan about every aspect of your business – and we hope this article will set you on the right path.