E-commerce

Think first

If you want an online store, it is important to consider the following beforehand:
  • how you intend to manage stock;
  • whether you have an inventory structure that is adequate;
  • how you will fulfill and dispatch orders;
  • how you will update stock levels;
  • who is going to manage the store;
  • do they have the right competencies;
  • what are those competencies?
  • do you have a bank account?
  • what domain should you use?
  • how much do you need to sell to breakeven?
  • how are you going to get people to see your new store and therefore drive sales?

If the above list sounds rather remedial, it is because it is based on practical experience of what can go wrong with perfectly well constructed online stores. For the store to succeed, the business model and business disciplines must be sound. In the event of any problems, the solutions are generally not technical, but rather, commercial common-sense. We want your store to succeed as much, if not more, than you do!

It is advisable to talk to us first and not buy hosting or anything else until you have since you need to make sure that your e-commerce, hosting and online merchant account software are all compatible – some are not – and that you therefore do not waste any capital on the wrong purchases.

Business Model

If you plan to have an online store or e-commerce application it is important to consider which route forward suits your business model best.
For entrepreneurs or start-ups generally budget is the determining factor and in such circumstances, the service solution is an easy route forward but the trade off is speed to market vs. control, presentation and profit margin.

More advanced businesses may find the service model limiting and want their own bespoke store, particularly if there are complex product lines. With a bespoke store, even if the e-commerce software itself is not expensive, it is as well to be realistic about potential service or development costs. It is advisable, even with the more flexible ones – such as Zen Cart – to focus on sales and turnover rather than getting the software to fulfil your minutest expectations (as such customisation will drive up costs).

Global vendor solutions (e.g. from IBM) will give greater functionality and robustness but the cost of software is commensurately more expensive.

Due care and attention

Remember that your store will need regular ‘watering and feeding’ if it is to grow. You will need to update stock levels regularly; upload pictures; check email; think about online promotion and generally do online all those things that you would do normally in the course of business. If a site is left unloved and uncared for, it will not produce the results you want.

Please contact us if you would like an e-commerce site.