As recently as 15 years ago, the majority of people had one option when buying a product – going to the shop or warehouse. Some could buy what they wanted over the phone, while others could send for it via the post, but all that has changed thanks to the creation of ecommerce.
Convenience is one of the driving forces behind the stupendous growth of ecommerce – being able to buy something using a PC, laptop, smartphone or tablet from just about any location has seen many companies boost their online sales operations. While some firms like supermarket chain Waitrosehave boosted online sales through their Ocado service, others have been left trailing.
While it’s possible to effectively market a business online without directly selling products, it might be wiser to do both. Ecommerce allows businesses and individual entrepreneurs to sell to a wider market than they would do in a standalone retail unit, but perfecting it can be difficult. If you’re intrigued about starting an online shop, you might wonder what you need to be on your way.
Tapping into more markets
When setting up an online shop you need to know what products you want to sell. Also, you should take into account product variations, the countries you intend to sell your product in, delivery/shipping costs and whether to sell on sites like eBay and Amazon as well as your own.
Once you make a note of what you need, you’ll need the software necessary to make your online shop work. On your company site set aside a few pages for your online shop: a main page and a page for different product ranges will be sufficient enough.
Here are some of the things that are must-haves for your online shop:
- A business e-mail address
- A website with a shopping cart
- An SSL Certificate (essential for accepting credit cards)
- A payment gateway/payment provider
- A shipping company to help with delivery
- Web analytics to track sales and visits to each product page
- Accounts with sites like eBay
Away from the shop
Once everything’s in place for your online shop, you’re left to try and make it work. To ensure you make a success from online retail, you should try and be as receptive to your customers’ needs as possible, especially when it comes to delivery and price.
“Use social and cross-selling features to generate improved conversion rates and higher sales. Use a blog to keep your customers in the loop and position yourself as an expert in your field; add a forum to allow you to interact with your customers – and your customers to interact with each other; win the confidence of potential buyers by collecting positive reviews.”
All that and more could mean that, in some cases, businesses can sell their wares without having to buy a retail space.