One of the most popular reasons businesses set up websites is to sell products online. Anything from your band’s music to antique furniture can be bought at the click of a button. Getting started in ecommerce doesn’t have to be daunting: just follow these tips!
How and where to sell
To begin selling, first you need a shop. Trading online is much simpler and cheaper than setting up a physical store. There are many options available to prospective traders. For some products, no website is required. Plenty of people run businesses via eBay and Etsy, relying on established customer bases to generate sales. Many other ecommerce sites, such as Amazon, also allow third-party sellers. If your business is trading in the (re)sale of goods or homemade crafts, launching it through an established site is a great way to test the water. You can build a client base without incurring upfront expenses.
Ecommerce isn’t all about physical products, however. Digital media such as apps, books, and music have ready-made markets. Selling through established channels such as iTunes and Amazon will guarantee them the largest possible audience.
If you’re selling a unique product, or want to build your brand independent of other retailers, there are two options available. Dedicated ecommerce hosting, or building shopping functionality into a privately-held website.
Dedicated ecommerce hosting
There are various ecommerce hosts offering services to small businesses. Shopify, Wix, BigCommerce, and SquareSpace, among many others, all offer web hosting with store capabilities for around $20-$30/month. This might not be the cheapest option but it’s significantly less expensive than running a physical store. Having an expert host also means you don’t have to worry about anything but selling your product.
Hosting your own website
If you’d prefer to use your own domain name, get away from template-designed websites, or start a store with potential to grow and grow, hosting your own site might be the best option. WordPress, 2016’s most popular content management system (CMS), is cheap to purchase and install, and incredibly flexible. What WordPress lacks, however, is built-in ecommerce functionality. This has to be installed through a third-party plugin such as WooCommerce. This makes the task of setting up a webstore a little trickier, although by no means impossible.
Sales don’t go directly to your bank from your customers’, you’ll need a payment gateway. This is a third-party that facilitates the transaction. The best-known are probably Paypal and Stripe. Chances are you’ll use at least one if you’re accepting payments through a self-hosted site. Dedicated hosts such as Shopify have their own payment gateways, and they will manage transactions on your behalf.
In order to accept payments through your website, you need to comply with PCI Security regulations. usually your web host will have taken care of those requirements, but self-hosted sites might require SSL certificates. You’ll need an SSL certificate if customers have to enter sensitive data—such as payment information—into your website. This isn’t necessary if you use a payment gateway such as Paypal, which redirects all payment processing to its own site. It would be required for built-in gateways such as Stripe.
Delivering the product
Once your store is running, consider how you’re going to handle sales. Push digital products to customers automatically upon purchase. Consider how to ship physical items. Fulfilment centers such as the ones run by Amazon and Cloud Fulfilment can completely remove your involvement from the shipping and handling of goods. Many ecommerce stores practice dropshipping, which entails ordering the product from the supplier and delivering directly to the purchaser, without ever being physically in their possession. At a more personal level, it might be time to strike up a deal with your local post office to streamline the shipping process.
A webstore can be a huge boost to any business, and there are a multitude options available to modern businesspeople who want to take the hassle out of trading online. If you’re not sure how to start, pick a plan and let TechTe.am’s friendly experts help.