It’s no easy feat to get your business up and running online. There are a variety of solutions to pick from — from free solutions such as Magento, Opencart, WooCommerce and Prestashop to paid solutions such as Shopify or Amazon.
Picking a platform
For most brick and mortar businesses, they generally opt to move onto an established platform such as eBay or Amazon. While these platforms provide much needed traffic, they can charge fees that range anywhere from a few percent to up to 20%, which is why many times it is desirable to choose a self-hosted solution such as Magento.
eBay vs. Amazon for sellers
If you’re considering eBay or Amazon as your platform though, know that they have drastically different fee structures. While eBay is much cheaper to sell on, you are responsible for paying shipping fees and a 10% fee assessed on most items on the final value. Amazon however provides affordable and quick shipping costs that you pay for indirectly with the small flat fee you pay on each sale (unless you’re using the Pro plan) and a certain percentage on the item value.
Setting up on your platform
If you’re selling on a major platform like Amazon or eBay, there really isn’t much setup except for getting a PayPal account at most before you get to the next part.
If you’re using a free, self-hosted option, you’ll need a domain name, hosting and a well-supported theme. Alternatively, you may hire someone to create one for you to make your store stand out, but it can get costly to do this. Furthermore, you’ll need to configure miscellaneous settings that range from the site title to payment gateways. Don’t fret, Prestashop for example as well as other free platforms are generally well supported and have full documentation to their software.
Choosing what to sell
Once you decide on a solution and set everything up, you’ll need to decide what to put on the store. For example, you might opt to add items that you have a lot of stock for to also have some in store. If you’re selling products without a physical storefront, things don’t get much easier as you still need to find suppliers willing to produce your merchandise.
Deciding on carriers to ship your items
At this point, your online storefront is just starting and you might not ship very much just yet. It’s difficult to find a good balance between revenue and costs, especially when you’re dealing with shipping as pricing is never fixed and can potentially ruin your business. In the UK, one of the most affordable and reliable shipping options is the Royal Mail. It’s great for lower cost items that ship within the UK and abroad. However, if your inventory consists of high value items, you may opt for courier deliver via DHL, for example.
Advertising your business
After you add your products to your store and have everything ready, it’s time to get your store known. There are many ways to do this, ranging from social media to local advertisements. In today’s day and age, most businesses will benefit the most from social media advertising, specifically through Facebook and Instagram. They are terrific options as you’ve the ability to choose the demographic you’re targeting, and with Instagram (a photo-oriented social networking app), people can see your products in action which improves customer conversion.
One implication of running both a store and website is that you need to maintain inventory levels for both storefronts. If you’re using an inventory management solution within your store, we can help you get it integrated with your online store, whether you’re running it on Shopify or Opencart. If your business runs primarily on a paper-based inventory system, our team can help you migrate from your current system to one that is electronic and integrate that to your online store.
Depending on what you choose for your online storefront, you can expect to pay just a few dollars a month up to tens to hundreds or even thousands. Assuming you’ve stocked your inventory already, you need to pay for your domain name, hosting, advertising and/or software fees. In terms of platform fees, Shopify for example charges $29, $79 and $299 for their basic, general and advanced plans. If you choose to get the Pro plan on Amazon, you’ll need to pay £25 per month.
With advertising, you can expect to pay anywhere in the range of a hundred pounds when you’re starting out. However, the profit you make through these ads directly drives your business, so it’s usually worth investing into.
In terms of getting a domain name and hosting, you really only need this if you’re not using an established platform such as eBay. When you use Shopify, you’ll need a domain name and with other free software you’ll need both hosting and a domain name. Make sure you choose a reliable provider, though, as a low-quality hosting company can drastically affect your sales if it is slow or unreliable. As an established UK development and hosting company, we provide fully managed hosting services which means you won’t need to worry about downtime or performance should you choose to host your business with us. Alternatively, a reputable managed hosting provider can be a great choice for many users.
Posted on June 18, 2018 at 10:21 pm in Uncategorized