Realistic planning is essential for a thriving ecommerce business. Flawed planning can be fatal.
You can start an ecommerce business with relatively little capital. No goodwill to pay. No business premises. Ecommerce is a fraction of the cost of selling from a shop. But you must plan.
What products can you make money on? Choose the right product range and build a thriving dot com business. Choose the wrong product and it`s all up hill.
1) Frequently purchased by consumers.
2) Bring repeat business, e.g. consumables that need replacing.
3) Can be delivered at a profit that gives a good return for your effort.
4) Reliable source.
5) Products that you can become expert in and market with enthusiasm.
Don`t get caught up in `get rich` schemes, multi-level marketing or affiliate plans. The most success comes from selling tangible products directly to people who already know they need them, and who believe that you have quality products at the best prices.
If you choose a product that never wears out and that people only buy once in a lifetime, you don`t get repeat business. However, if that product needs spare parts, then you get repeat business. This is what razor manufacturers discovered. They almost give away the razor but make their fortune selling blades. Printer manufacturers have followed suit with their cartridges.
What products do you already know a lot about? Is there room for you in that market? If you don`t know much about a product can you learn? Search Google for them to see how many existing merchants sell those products. See what prices they are getting and how large the range is.
Decide how you will charge for postage or delivery and still be competitive with local shops. Maybe you can provide incentive rates for multiple items and free delivery for orders over a certain value.
Decide on payment options. Your customers will expect credit cards and bank transfers. Start with PayPal until your sales volume can justify the cost of bank merchant facilities.
Once you have selected a range of products, select a business name and domain name that includes a key word or two. Joebrown.com is not a name that will sell anything on the internet except Joe and Brown, and there are millions of those.
Google includes any keywords from your name as one of the many factors used to position a web page in search results.
Select a name that is easy to remember and not close to any existing name. Register the dot com version and also your country`s extension. This is a defensive strategy to stop competitors taking business from you using the name confusion factor.
Get prices for a custom built ecommerce website. Although there are free open source ecommerce packages, these are usually less effective in getting your products found in Google.
A custom built website might have the URL for a product look like razors.com/blades.asp?s=Gillette while the same product on an open source website might look like razors.com/index.php?prod=987654321xyz which is not so search engine friendly.
Your website design should allow easy maintenance of the products.
Search engine optimization (SEO):
This should be a priority for the design of any website. Research the latest strategies in SEO. If your website doesn`t get found in a search by your prospective customers, any time and money spent making it look pretty is wasted.
Your website must look good enough to entice customers to browse and buy your products, but it won`t do that if they don`t find your website in Google.
There are many competitive hosting plans. Get one that suits the capacity you need but don`t pay for more than you need. You can always upgrade hosting plans. Make sure the servers are in your own country, not ten thousand miles away.
Your website need not be 100% complete when you go live. In fact it`s best to get your home page live as soon as possible even if your database of products and shopping cart are a month away. Google takes the age of the website as one of the many factors used to position a web page in search results.
Get another website to link to yours. This quickly gets you listed in Google if the other site is well indexed by Google. Your web designer should be the first to link, but also look for directories of industry groups like yours.
Allow the product pages to go live before the shopping cart. Don`t wait till you have loaded the last product. You will continue to update products as they change anyway.
It may then take from a few days to three weeks before you are found in Google, depending on the sites that link to yours. Check your position for various search phrases. Be prepared to adjust text on your home page. Don`t expect your website to be listed for words it doesn`t have. Check your prices against other websites.
Before you make the shopping cart live, check prices, delivery charges, payment options and terms. Check for missing images.
Place a test order so that you can see the various stages of processing it. Get a friend to check out your website. Iron out any wrinkles.
Then be ready to process your first order!
These articles were first published on www.platywebs.com.au and have been re-published on many other websites and ezines over the years. New readers are still finding them to be of value and up to date with today’s conditions. We believe they illustrate common sense and the value of thinking through situations. Please check out the other articles advising on small business, web design, search engine optimisation, web hosting and domain names.