Six things to consider before you build an online shop.

Despite the recession and favourable weather we’re having this summer, online sales are still on the increase meaning that more and more consumers are enjoying the speed and convenience that shopping online provides.   Selling your products online is not without its challenges but if it’s done properly, the benefits can be substantial.

We are often approached by clients who are interested in selling items online but just don’t know where to start or go about it.   Part of the process of providing clients with e-commerce systems that are right for them is getting the client to think clearly about what they are trying to achieve.  This list is by no means definitive but should be enough to get you thinking.

  1. How many products do you intend to sell online and will there be many variations?
    Think about product categories, sizes, colours and how much information and imagery you have for each product.
  2. Which locations will you be delivering to and which currencies will you accept?
    Whilst this may increase your potential market size can you really afford to accept alternative currencies when the exchange rate is so poor.  You may also need to assess the competition from rival stores in the territories you wish to sell in.
  3. Will you require your e-commerce system to be linked to any other in-house systems?
    We like to think that the e-commerce systems we create will not only generate income but actually increase profit margins by acting as a labour saving device.  Do you have any internal stock control or accounting systems that could be integrated into your online shop admin area?
  4. How will you take payments?
    Our e-commerce systems can be linked to practically any payment network from web-based solutions such as Google Checkouts and Paypal, to external services such as a branded Worldpay payment page.  Alternatively, you may already be set up with an online Merchant ID and a secure payment provider so that users do not leave your site to process an online payment.
  5. How strong is your company’s branding and logos?
    It goes without saying that the internet is a highly visual medium and if you want to create as strong impression as possible with potential customers this area needs to be addressed properly.
  6. How will you generate sales?
    This is a key question and one that is often overlooked.  Whilst more and more potential customers are choosing to shop online, it may be that your products are already available via existing online sources.  The standard rules of ‘physical’ retail apply just as heavily within the online retail environment.   You must think about how you are going to advertise your products so that potential customers visit your site.

    Blogging, Twitter, link building, Google Adwords….all of these and more may need to be in the mix and they all take up valuable time. Have you got the time or the resource to commit to it?