eCommerce - it's best to know what you're doing
I had a conversation today that reminds me of how much confusion exists regarding eCommerce. Unfortunately, people wanting to launch an eCommerce website and sell stuff online simply do not understand what is required. Let’s talk about some of the issues and some of the realities of being an online retailer (another label for selling stuff online).
Let’s talk about Etsy and eBay. Both are excellent examples of an eCommerce Community. It’s fairly easy to “Join” the community and sell your stuff in an established environment without doing much more than signing up and adding your product information. Both organizations take care of everything else needed for the “store” to function. Do you have any idea of what the “everything else” is? Without going into too many details, let me list some of the “everything else” items here:
• First is the domain name. Every store has to have a name, and in my example, it’s www.etsy.com or www.ebay.com. Once you’ve signed up and have added your products to the Etsy or eBay store, they’ll give you an add-on (aka sub-domain) that you can share with your potential customers to make it easier for them to find you online. You’ll want to tell everyone you know – and everyone you don’t know – what that address is to increase the chances of selling something!
• Next is the actual storefront application that provides the functionality that makes it an online store. If this were a brick & mortar store, this would include the building, the utilities, the cash register, the credit card payment machine, the staff, the bags….you get the idea. The infrastructure.
• Now they have to market or advertise themselves to the world so people know to come and shop there. Sure, nearly everyone knows about Etsy and eBay – today - but they didn’t the day either of them started. It is only through an effective marketing plan that people know about them today and continue to come and shop there. I guarantee that both companies have entire departments that work tirelessly on just this alone.
• Getting paid? You’ll need a merchant account for that! There are recurring fees that must be paid even when nothing is sold. Add on the “per transaction” fees and you’ll discover this can be a pretty pricey requirement.
• When you’re selling online, it’s your responsibility to protect the customer’s information. There’s an annual fee for the encryption software needed to protect the credit card information you’re collecting from your customer so that you may get paid for the sale. Ignore this and get caught and the fines and penalties will put you out of business – by design and intent! This is serious business!
• What happens when something gets broken in shipping, doesn’t get delivered or a customer is unhappy with their purchase?
• How do you handle inventory levels and out-of-stock situations?
Are you sure you’re ready to be an online retailer?
So maybe I’ve scared the h**l out of you. I’m ok with that because you need to understand that having an eCommerce store can be a wonderful experience but you need to know what you’re getting into.
When we work with a prospect that wants to start a new, or expand an existing eCommerce store, we invest the time to make certain they understand what is required. We’re here and ready to help guide you through the process and pull your fingers off the ledge when it becomes overwhelming. If you’re going to invest the time and money, you should do everything possible to impact your success. Having the right tools and an experienced technical partner is a really good place to start.
We're a really good technical partner so give us a call and let's start the conversation.