7 things you need before you start an online store

Now is the time to for eCommerce success

Recently we have had a flurry of businesses trying to convert their static websites into online stores. We are seeing a fresh wave of clients seeking the success that e-commerce can deliver. Business leaders and entrepreneurs realise the world has changed, and that selling products and services online is essential if they are to thrive in business. One thing is for certain, many successful entrepreneurs and business owners have seen exponential growth after learning the power of having an online store.

What about businesses that have been slow to jump into a digital store or online business model? Up until now, they may have been resisting stepping into online shopping, for a number of reasons. For some, it’s just another thing to manage, for others it’s the upfront cost, and others it’s lack of knowledge or the hassle of learning a new digital skill. Some just don’t have a website yet. It seems like a mountain that is too big to climb. It could be a lot simpler than you think to have an online store.

Business owners realise the world has changed, and that selling products and services online are essential if they are to thrive in business.

Case Study

Guytons’ Fisheries have had a simple profile website to support their bricks and mortar’ stores in Richmond, Nelson, and Blenheim. When the COVID-19 lockdown forced all retail stores to close in March 2020, they realised that they had to act quickly to set up an online store.

After one phone call to Downing we promised to get their online store up and running within a week. 7 days later they were open for business online and delivering delicious fresh fish to the Top of The South Island. The point here is that setting up an online shop may be easier than you think. This article outlines the steps that we can take to get your store up and running, let us know if you have any questions.

Should I use an online market or build my own website?

There are many ways to sell your products over the internet. Ecommerce platforms like Trademe, Amazon, and eBay offer a large number of potential buyers, but you are one of the thousands of sellers who can promote their products. These online markets take a cut of your profits and you have less control over the way your product is sold and how your brand is shown. The alternative to selling in an online market is building your own online shop within your website.

There are some big benefits to having your own website and online store:You get a bigger share of the profit.

  • You have more control over how the whole shopping experience is managed.
  • Your customers won’t see any competitors on your website. A brand well-known in a local market is more likely to be searched for first, rather than going to some other online market.
  • You also get to own an asset that should increase in value over time.

Many businesses use their online shop as a way of reaching new customers or to supply customers who have visited their physical store and now want to purchase remotely. The downside of starting your own store is that the setup costs might be higher at first. It may also take time to get customers through the online door, so you will need to invest in promoting your site and building up following overtime.

Ecommerce options for your own website to consider

There are a variety of online selling options available for your own website. Some of the more common ones are Shopify, Magento, and WordPress using WooCommerce. They all have their pros and cons and a discussion of which one is best is beyond the scope of this article. So I want to discuss the platform that I am most familiar with and recommend the most, and that is WordPress, using the WooCommerce plugin. WooCommerce sits inside a WordPress site to provide the basic shop system for selling products, allowing you to select a product, adding it to a shopping cart, creating an order collecting customer details. It will notify you when a sale is made and gives you a way of managing the process.

Don’t try to build an eCommerce website on your own

Some clever people can set it up themselves but in my experience, they are very rare. So my advice is to partner with Downing as we are experienced in setting up ecommerce. We will help you with the process of bringing it all together.

7 things you need before you build an online shop if you are starting from scratch.

Even if your online business is just an idea these steps will help with your business plan. Here are some of the keys steps you need to put in place before you start setting up your online business and selling your products or services online:

1. Do some simple customer research

Ask your existing customers if they are likely to buy from you online and if they do, what would they be looking for. Google Trends shows useful information about what people are looking for online. If customers are not searching for your services online, or they aren’t interested in buying online, then you may need to rethink your online strategy. You may need to change your product offering or target different customers. You may even need to reconsider your business model as you seek to integrate your online store.  Think about the impact that selling online may have on existing supplier relationships, distribution, packaging, freight, and aftersales service. Either way, some initial research to define your ideal customer is very valuable. If customers want to buy online ask what words they will type into the search engine to find your products. These words should be included in your product descriptions and headings in your website, making it easier to find your online business.

2. Create a product list

Use a spreadsheet to record all the information for the products you want to sell. Some typical things to include are the product name, product photo, price, variable information such as size, colour weights, pack sizes, and description. You may also want to create product categories to help group large numbers of products. If you are selling clothing you might like to group products under traditional headings such as shirts, pants, jackets, etc. Some of our clients have 20 products others have 20,000. It is important for your web developer to know the scale of your store so they can provide a good solution for you.

3. Delivery

Work out how you are going to deliver your products to your customers and what costs should be associated with packaging and freight. Will you deliver locally, nationally, or internationally? You may need to consult a courier company to help with this area or alternatively offer free delivery. As mentioned this may impact your business model in regard to people resources required, the capacity to answering inquiries, customer service, and order fulfilment.

4. Payment processing

You will need to have a way of processing credit card payments online in a secure way. There are a number of providers who offer this service, such as Paypal, Stripe, or Paymark. We use Stripe because they are quick and easy to set up, have good support, and a huge international customer base. You also don’t need to have credit card processing facilities to use their service. All you need is a Stripe account and bank account to receive payments.

5. Legal 

Legal documentation is required on eCommerce websites. This should include your terms and conditions, privacy policy, refund and return policy. Your lawyer should be able to help you here.

6. A website

You will need to have a basic website set up to start selling online. If you don’t have a website Downing can help get you started. Get in touch to find out how we can help you with this vital step.

It is preferable that you have your business domain name (www.mybusiness.co.nz) attached to your website too.

7. Customer Acquisition

You will need to consider how you will attract customers to your store once it is set up. You can start building an audience before you open your Ecommerce Platform. Social media can be used with great success to attract customers to your store? You can use social media platforms such as Instagram and facebook to build an audience that will be interested in your store and converted to customers once you launch. Email marketing is another powerful tool to lead customers to your digital store. Have you got a strategy to collect customer emails so you can lead them to your store?

Free 30-minute consultation.

How branding services can boost your business

If you would like to discuss your brand with an experienced branding agency, please call to make an appointment for a free 30-minute telephone consultation. One of our experienced Account Managers will discuss your brand and will do their best to answer your questions.

Our qualified and experienced team provide quality creative branding services and management skills to deliver work at the highest standards.

A well-crafted brand, consistently applied, is an immensely powerful tool for creating exceptional customer experiences, making sales,  building your marketing, business or organisation. So contact us today to see how we can help you produce world-class branding, marketing and communication.