Congratulations on finding your inspiration and deciding to bring it to market. This new venture can provide you not only a source of income and fulfillment, but also give your soon-to-be customers a solution to a need they didn’t even know they had.
We’ve assembled a list of recommendations from our top partners and small business experts to help ensure your launch goes successfully. Below are just of few of the tips to get you into the ecommerce game.
Should I make or buy my website?
Deciding whether to build your own ecommerce website or to go with a turnkey solution — or finding a hybrid solution somewhere between the two — is one of the first choices you’ll be faced with when launching. The answer depends a lot on your view of the points listed below. Also, if you plan to sell digital downloads you’ll need to make sure that your host provides a solution to automate that process. When people buy downloadable files, such as ebooks or music files, they expect to be able to download the purchased files immediately after purchase. A business such as MadBeeTech Web Hosting provides a website the ability to easily implement the selling of downloadable files.
- Customization. What level of customization do you need to sell your products or services? How often do you need the basic functionality of your site to change relative to your day-to-day operations and your projected growth?
- Expertise. Most small business owners are Jacks and Jills-of-all-trades. However, very few of us also have the design and technical proficiency required to build and launch a successful ecommerce website, even just overseeing a developer. You’ll want to rely on small business resources as much as possible.
- Budget. Most small businesses, especially those requiring a large investment in inventory, are faced with limited launch budgets. The costs associated with building your own website can be high—sites can run into the tens of thousands of dollars for design and development.
Choosing a domain name
The obvious choice is to use your business name. Surprisingly, that might not be exactly the best name for your website.
When you choose a domain name, you should go through the same process you did choosing your company name. You want it to be memorable, easy to find, and easy to promote. However, there are special considerations for your domain name that you should consider, such as length, avoiding special characters, and choosing extensions. When it comes to search engine optimization some people believe the domain name plays a part in the ranking of a website. That is no longer considered to be a major, if any, factor. You can get more information on the best ways to rank your website in Google searches by visiting MadBeeTech SEO services. They have articles with SEO tips, and several inexpensive SEO plans.
Designing your site
If you’re shopping for a turnkey solution, make sure the service offers mobile-optimized templates (these days, most have built their templates with mobile viewing in mind). Look for phrases such as “mobile optimized” or “mobile responsive.”
Over at entrepreneur.com they note that if you’re creating an ecommerce website from scratch, it makes the most sense to approach your design as a multi-device web experience, rather than following one set of best practices for desktop and another set for mobile devices.
Choosing a shopping cart
If you use a turnkey solution, the shopping cart will be integrated in your package. It’s important to check out the level of customization available, and whether the shopping cart works equally well for those of you selling intangible goods (software downloads, music downloads, etc.).
If you build your own website, you’ll need to choose a shopping cart provider who can integrate with your backend server and payment gateway.
Inventory and order management
Depending on the number of SKUs you sell, uploading products into your ecommerce solution can be a time-consuming task. At business.com they mention that turnkey website providers have built-in apps that walk you through the process of uploading products with options such as sizes and colors. If you decide to build your website in-house, there are software packages that you can integrate yourself.
If you don’t yet have an accounting solution, look for one with a robust set of tools that meet your needs. It can make a difference if you are doing business as an individual or if you have determined that an LLC is right for you. Beyond just balancing your books, today’s accounting solutions can give you the ability to perform a wide range of tasks:
- Send invoices and get paid online: Great for service-based businesses. Most packages give you capability to customize your invoices for a professional look.
- Order management: As we mentioned above, some accounting solutions have an order management feature to track goods once they’re sold.
- Sync with your shopping cart and online payments: Likewise, make sure the solution syncs with your online merchant service/payments processor.