During this pandemic I’m sure you have heard about ecommerce websites or at least selling services and products online. While the concept is something most of us are aware of with Amazon products and Netflix or Spotify streaming services, setting this up yourself can be more daunting than most small business owners expected.
Having said that, there are two ways to get started: Either as a DIY project if you have the time and some web skills or have an expert do all the heavy lifting. Having it done will provide a more professional looking website with the required marketing to make sure you're found online and the right settings so your customer experience is a good one.
Why go to this work?
It was never so apparent as it is during a pandemic that small businesses need to compete with the larger retail giants and offer a new level of customer service to customers, guests, clients and patients. Beyond that, offering online purchasing offers a more affordable selling process with less expenses taken out of the profits. Bottom line is that it is cheaper to sell online than rent a store, pay heat and hydro and hire sales staff. With narrow margins and more competition these days, a better process has been welcomed by many.
What types of ecommerce websites?
When all is said and done, there are really only two types of ecommerce websites. Services websites or online stores that provide products. Services can be recurring payments such as streaming services or business services like B&B bookings, consulting services, massage therapy etc. Online stores offer products that can be just about anything you can buy that is tangible, digital downloads, software white pages etc.
What is required for setup?
For online booking, all services need to be set up with pricing, descriptions, variables, additions and photos as a starting point. From there these types of services need calendar integrations, staff setup, payment gateways to accept credit cards, required taxes added and communications and marketing integrations inserted. For most of these types of businesses, it takes a few weeks of work to complete.
For online stores, the process is about the same for products, except every product needs settings and SEO settings on each page. Categories and tags need to be added to every item as well as shipping options, pickups, courier integrations and inventory. From many online store setups over the last decade, even a few hundred items can take a few months to set up and integrate.
What's best for my small business?
If you are a brick and mortar store, start putting on your best selling items online first and build your online store over time. If you offer professional services or rentals, online booking with payments is your best option. If you just want a side gig to sell your products, start with a basic online store. To save money and you have a few web skills, try a DIY solution like Wix, GoDaddy, Shopify etc. But to save you time and ensure you have a proper ecommerce website, it is best to hire an expert for setup and integration.