Running an online business is exciting, you can do it from almost anywhere from your home or your office. By being online customers can reach you anytime on any device. Meaning you can bring in an income even when you are asleep. Whether you are a medical marketing expert or a small food business, being online is important and will help increase your reach and bring in new customers. Below are seven things to think about when starting an online e-commerce business.
If you operate online, then chances are you are going to need an e-commerce site to bring in some revenue. Depending on your budget you could have it done professionally by an agency. Or, you could get a freelancer to do it and spend less. If you feel comfortable and don’t require your site to be huge, there is an option to create an online e-commerce site yourself using a site like Shopify or Wix. All of these options will work for you, it’s just about choosing which option suits you best. Additionally, think of which puts you in the best position possible. You could always start by making one yourself and then once established and bringing in some profit you could choose to upgrade your site and pay for a professional to do it then.
However, if you go wrong here and don’t get it wrong the first time, then it can irreparably damage your business. If this is something that you are worried about, it’s in your best interests to look into a web development agency as early as you can. We know that the cost can be something that you’re concerned about, but there are agencies who can offer you what you need without a price tag. Even if you have to spend a little more than you would like, a professional website is going to more than pay for itself in no time.
Depending on the platform of your website you will then decide on your payment system options. A payment system is important as this is what your users will go through in order to buy something from you. Different payment systems will charge different amounts depending on the package you opt for. This is why it’s important to do your research before signing up to one. Most will have a dedicated call centre where you can talk about the system with someone and see if they can match your requirements.
You can always opt to use multiple payment systems and let the user choose which one they would like to go for. For example, some online e-commerce sites will allow you to use PayPal or a credit card/debit card. If you go to the payment section of a site you like, some will advertise payment options they are using to give you an indication of which to trust. But if you plan to extend your operations to other countries, it would help to consider getting all the appropriate licenses from countries you wish to do business with. This way, you can avoid potential legal issues in the future. You may also want to apply for a Legal Entity Identifier (LEI) to add a bit more credibility and trustworthiness to your online business. You can find an online LEI register to start your application process.
Both physical businesses and online businesses need an accounts package to support their business. As with your payment system, the best software for you will vary depending on your needs. If you have an accountant already organized, you should speak to them and see which systems they recommended. If not, a simple google search will bring up multiple companies that offer accounting software. As mentioned above, most companies will have a helpline that you can use to discuss your requirements and see if they are right for you. Things to look for are strong invoicing software, expenses, sales reports, inventory reports and payroll to pay any employees that you have. If you haven’t got an accountant, find one first as some programs are easier for an accountant to use and will save you money in the long run.
How you represent yourself online is extremely important. If done well, customers will always remember you and recommended you to others. Therefore increasing your sales and revenue. Things to think about are your logo, what it will look like and how it will work on your site. Your brand colours - this will decide how your site looks and will represent the feel of your brand. There are so many things that come to mind when thinking about someone’s brand. That is why it is so important you spend time on this and invest in someone to do this properly for you.
Once a customer has bought from you, how much will it cost to ship to them? Will you be offering next day delivery, and if so have you budgeted for the costs of this? A lot of companies will build the cost of delivery into the price they sell their product for whilst others will ask the customer to pay a fee on top for delivery. Then comes the packaging costs to send the products and going to the post office every day to send them to your customers and the cost of selling them on platforms like Depop if you're using one. It’s important to really think this part through as if done wrong, can cause delays. Which can then cause customers to feel frustrated and potentially give you a bad review.
When you launch an online e-commerce business, customers don’t just come flooding in. It’s up to you to advertise your business and bring customers in to buy your products. At first, it may be worth setting aside an advertising budget to get yourself out there. Ways of advertising could be through PPC or Facebook ads. Just make sure you know what you are doing before paying for these ads. A lot of money could be wasted on nothing if done incorrectly. If you have no experience in advertising it may even be worth hiring a professional to do this for you, in order to have the biggest impact on your launch.
The world is run by social media! It is instantly a bad sign if you google a business and they don’t have a social media profile. You don’t have to be on all the social media channels, just choose the ones which suit your business needs the most. For example, if you are a very visual product, Instagram may be your best bet. Additionally there is Facebook, Twitter and now Tiktok. Not all social media channels will benefit your online e-commerce business but overtime you will learn which ones produce the most engagement and are worth investing in.
Just remember like with everything in life, it takes time to grow a channel. You won’t instantly get followers and a lot of engagement, but with the right content going out and perseverance, followers will soon join, increasing your social media presence. You could always run a few paid social media campaigns on launch to increase awareness and bring traffic to your new website.