What you need to start an online store.

…the world has changed

Now is the time

Recently we have had a flurry of businesses trying to convert their static websites into online shops. They now realise the world has changed, and that selling products and services online are essential if they are to survive in business. Up until now, they 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 skill. Some just don’t have a website. It seems like a mountain that is too big to climb. It could be a lot simpler than you think to have an online shop.

They now realise the world has changed, and that selling products and services online are essential if they are to survive in business.

Case Study

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


After one phone call to Downing we promised to get their online shop 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 shop up and running, let us know if you have any questions.


Online market or my own website

There are many ways to sell your products over the internet. Online markets 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. 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 online shop:

𐄁 You get a bigger share of the profit.

𐄁 You have more control over how the whole 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 that 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

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 do it 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.

6 things you need before you build an online shop

Here are some of the keys steps you need to put in place before you start selling your products or services online:

1. Do some simple 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. 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. That will make it easier to find your online line.

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.

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 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 WordPress website set up to start selling online. It is preferable that you have your business domain name (www.mybusiness.co.nz) attached to your website too.

Once you have these things sorted you are ready to set up shop.

So give us a call if you’re thinking about selling, it could be easier than you think.