I get asked – A LOT – about how to “sell products from my website”. These questions are normally prompted because the business owner has been prompted by a business coach, or an internet marketing type seminar, to start selling online. This is GREAT however, getting the ‘ECommerce” part of your website or webpresence up and running requires thought and planning, to ensure that you aren’t just flushing money down the drain.
I have discussed this previously – in this article: Small Business: Choosing the Right Shopping Cart and Affiliate Program for you (this is now getting a little dated and I’ll have to update it soon!) however, I thought I would add more to that here.
The biggest thing for me, as someone who implements solutions for business, is in understanding the requirements the business has when selling online. Yes, being profitable is part of those outcomes, but there are many other outcomes as well. Once I understand those outcomes, I can then assess the requirements against different offerings and provide advice on the best way to achieve things.
Here are just some of the questions that a business needs to answer, before considering the “How To” aspect of implemeting an ECommerce solution. This is by no means an exhaustive list, but will give any business owner a place to start.
1. What type of products are being delivered:
a) Digital Download
b) Physical products
c) Mix of both
2. If Digital products, how do you want to handle the download?
a) In a link through email
b) On a page, where the purchaser is redirected after payment
c) In a password protected area?
d) Do you want to limit the number of times something can be downloaded after purchase?
3. If Physical Products – is shipping costs and methods a consideration
a) The ability to offer ‘standard shipping’, ‘expedited’, ‘courier’
b) do you need different prices for International / Local shipping
c) Do you want to offer discounts / free shipping for orders over a certain value
d) Do you want to specify per item shipping that adds up, or weight based, or order based shipping costs
a) Paypal is good – quick and easy.
b) Do you want to offer “Pay by bank deposit” etc?
c) Will it be one off payments, subscription or payment plans?
d) Are $0 or free purchases required?
5. Product Display
a) How do you want the products displayed on the site:
i) in a ‘shop’ view that is auto generated from the product list;
ii) On single pages where you can add a buy now button whereever you want them?
iii) A mixture would be nice
a) Do you want to do special offers using Coupon Codes?
b) Do you want to sell Gift Certificates? If so, how do you want to deliver them:
i) In an email, but formatted so they look like a Gift Certificate?
ii) In an email, but just as text?
iii) Mailed out to either the purchaser or recipient?
7. Product Personalisation / Social Proof / Social Feedback
a) Does your product need personalising? If so, to what extent
b) Do you want people to be able to rate the products and leave feedback for other potential buyers?
c) Do you want to share the product(s) through the ‘social webs’?
8. Email Marketing / Follow Ups / CRM
a) Do you use an Email Marketing Tool already and do you want purchasers to be added to this tool?
b) Do you want to add purchasers for individual products to different lists for each product, or just one big list?
i) If it’s one big list, do you want to be able to segment by product?
9. Affiliate Program Integration
a) Are you going to want to offer an affiliate program at ANY time with this shopping cart?
The above lists are all ‘generic’ requirements to be considered when looking for an Ecommerce Solution. Once a business owner has this level of definition, they can then start to assess the various options and offerings and make an informed decision about how to implement their ECommerce Solution.
Can A Business Start With A Small ECommerce solution and Grow
It’s possible to put something quick and inexpensive in place to get you up and running today, and expand on that as you grow – but you need to know where you’re starting from first. Answer the questions above, plot out some timeframes and develop clarity on WHAT you are trying to do. Then speak with an expert about the “HOW” of what you’re doing…..