To stay competitive in this intense retail industry, where buyers have high bargaining power and it is easy for them to switch between brands, business owners need to keep up with the trends and technology development to provide the best experience to their customers. Technology helps customers simplify their purchase, and helps businesses speed up the purchase journey and the volume of sales.
One important aspect of technology is electronic commerce where the transactions are conducted via the Internet. The emergence of Ecommerce brought countless opportunities for sellers and convenience for buyers. That’s the reason why businesses shouldn’t ignore this opportunity.
Starting an online business, as well as having an ecommerce website is a considerable decision and investment. To many business owners, there are many concerns that haven’t been answered. This article is trying to address some significant concerns that business owners have when starting an online business.
Is ecommerce profitable?
Selling products or services online is profitable, even with a small or large budget. No matter how much the price of the products or services, by doing right, selling online will give you high returns on investment.
With the businesses having limited budgets and limited number of products, a minimal ecommerce website with necessary features is just enough to gain the profit. By contrast, a large corporation with huge budgets and numerous products needs a more complicated ecommerce platform to meet the expectations of customers.
Whatever the scale of the business, doing an online store is giving customers flexibility. They have the control over when to buy, how to buy, whether to take offers, ect. Imagine that a brick-and-mortar store can open up to 12 hours per day, while an online store can be accessed 24/7/365, even holidays. Therefore, you won’t miss customers at whatever time of the day.
Is an ecommerce website expensive?
Yes and No.
Basically, an ecommerce website isn’t expensive and this is a worthy investment. Compared to an offline store which costs you a lot of money in renting, setting up, decors, equipment, utilities and staff salaries; an ecommerce website costs your money for development and maintenance.
These days, there are many ecommerce website builders that you can take to build your online store at a minimum price. These website builders provide you what you need for an ecommerce website with low cost. They are easy to set up and less coding-knowledge required.
However, for a large business with many product lines and complicated features, the cost of website development can be huge. This is expensive because professionals have to build custom features, which can’t be found on the ecommerce website builder market.
The price of an ecommerce website depends on how complicated the website is and the level of customisation. For small and medium businesses, which require basic features and don’t have so many custom and complicated requirements, the cost of an ecommerce website is relatively cheap. There are many website design agencies that offer ecommerce website development with competitive prices out there.
Can I build my ecommerce website by myself?
Definitely, you can.
As I mentioned before, there are many ecommerce website builders in the market. They are Shopify, Woocommerce, WordPress, Magento, Wix, Squarespace, BigCommerce, Weebly, name of a few. These website builders allow you to set up an ecommerce website at ease because of their user-friendly interface and tons of online instructions and tutorials. Most of these platforms have premade plugins. These are the features you need for a basic ecommerce website. All you need to do is download and install them.
However, you need to have some basic understanding about how an ecommerce website works, so as to be able to set up an online store effectively. This is not about how to code and how to build a program, but it is about how an ecommerce website works and what features are needed.
Sometimes, watching online tutorials can be frustrating. One easier solution to save your time is hire a professional. An experienced professional understands what your website needs to have and what your customer expectations. This is because they have been in this industry for a while and they always keep up with the trends. A website made by professionals can fulfil the needs of the customers and stay competitive in the industry.
Do I have to be a tech-savvy to manage my online website?
When an ecommerce website is handed over from the professional to client, they have to make sure that this website is ready to go online. Along with the website, business may receive the instruction of how to manage your website from your agency. Some agencies provide post-services, either with fee for free, which help the business do the managing tasks or troubleshoot errors.
A responsible agency is an agency who builds a complete website and minimises managing tasks for clients. In case you have to make changes to your ecommerce website, you can do it by yourself. Most of the website builder platforms are easy to use and they also provide videos and step-by-step instructions on their website. Therefore, managing an ecommerce website is not a difficult task.
What security risks do an ecommerce website involve?
1. System is crashed
Rarely, the Internet service provider could crash and your ecommerce website is inaccessible. Hardly happen but still be the case, your payment system, plugins or website builder platforms show errors and have bugs. All of these problems will be solved quickly by providers.
2. Personal data is stolen
Your customer personal data could be stolen and be used for spamming. In this case, you should have protection plugins installed, cybersecurity plans and back up and restore important data regularly.
3. Credit and debit card fraud
Another consideration is credit and debit card fraud. This occurs when someone steals the credit card or debit card details of unsuspecting victims and then uses it to make a purchase on your ecommerce website. When the victims are aware of this issue and require refunds, your products have been shipped. To solve this problem, make sure your payment gateway is secure and use one or more levels of encryption.
What are the hidden costs of an ecommerce website?
Beside the development cost, an ecommerce website requires maintenance. Some agencies offer free post-service for website maintenance, while others charge an amount of money to maintain, upgrade or expand, which depends on the contract between client and website design agency. Therefore, when investing on an ecommerce website, you should be aware of this cost.
An ecommerce website requires some specific plugins for additional features. Some are free, while some need to be paid for. Although it is not much for a plugin to be installed, if you need many functions, the amount could be added up. So, don’t overestimate this cost.
3. Hosting and Domain
Hosting creates online space for your website, letting customers access your online store. Domain is the URL address that allows customers to find you. Hosting and domain is usually paid yearly. For the website being designed by the website design agency, the cost of hosting and domain can be included in their package. Some website builders include the domain and hosting in their packages while some require you purchase from a third party. When choosing a website builder, carefully look at what is included in the package.
When doing online business, there might be frauds which affect your revenue. Fraud comes in many forms such as credit/debit card fraud, chargeback fraud, return fraud, ect. It is important to notice the potential risks. However, it doesn’t mean you don’t do online business to stay safe. There are solutions to keep your business secure. The right ecommerce platform will have built-in features to protect your business from frauds.
5. Credit card processing and transaction fee
To process credit cards on your site, you may need to pay the fee. For example, Shopify charges 2.4-2.9% + 30c per transaction, if using Shopify payment. All online transactions on Shopify are charged 0.5-2% per transaction if the Shopify payment is not activated. Depending on the payment gateway and your total sales, these fees can add up, so make sure to look carefully into them before committing yourself.
6. Content Creation
Your website needs content. It can be descriptions and high-quality images of your products or services. Content can be done by hiring freelancers. Make sure you add this cost to your plan.
What should I do to take the most advantages from an ecommerce website?
Having an ecommerce website is important to be competitive in the industry. However, you need to take actions to leverage your online business.
1. Make sure your website is secure and trusted by customers
You can ask your agency to add protection solutions or add by yourself. A secure website protects you from being attacked and lets customers make the transactions without hesitation.
2. Provide the customers what they expect
Be honest with your products and services by providing the customers truthful product descriptions and images. Don’t let them down by delivering a product that is totally different from what you promise on the website.
3. Create great user experience
Customers are frustrated with a slow loading website, a vague checkout process, a poorly mobile responsive, ect. Make sure you understand your customer expectations and provide them what they need. Keep your eyes on their frustrations to avoid having them on your website.
4. Focus on SEO from the beginning
Although optimising search engines is a long-term strategy, focusing on SEO from the first stage of website development prevents you from making unnecessary changes in future. Any significant change on your website can affect your Google ranking, so let’s make it right from the beginning (at least, dealing with your agency to optimise your website for technical SEO).
5. Incorporate social media marketing
Your customers are on social media platforms. Marketing on social media is a good way to expand your online presence and reach more potential customers, then driving more sales to your ecommerce website. Social media also helps your business increase brand awareness and build strong relationships with customers.
6. Boost your sales by paid ads
One great strategy to reach your potential customers quickly is paid ads. There are many platforms that let you run ads to drive sales to your ecommerce website. Two most powerful platforms are Facebook and Google. With billions of users on these two platforms, you have the opportunity to show your ads in front of the people who are likely interested in your products or services.
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