How to Build an Online Store in 2020

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If you are a small business with with a local outlet or selling your products through eBay or Amazon, it might be worth considering building your own online store. If you can make annual sales of over 1 million, It’s not as expensive to run and for the most part if you are slightly technical, you can DIY.

Why eCommerce?

Here are some of the benefits for building your own eCommerce store:

  • Exposure of your brand and loyalty – You don’t get recognition and repeat customers if your brand is not recognised. Selling on eBay or other platforms gives you very little opportunity to present your brands with videos, testimonials, feature pages and capture visitor insights on how customers view your products
  • Save on fees – Most platforms charge an excess of 10% of platform and sales commission if you are selling on eBay. You are essentially working for them instead of growing your brand. With increasing competition in thin margins, you have very little to save if you are primarily selling through 3rd parties
  • Increase your reach – Very obvious, if you are a local retailer, then you can’t really sell beyond the 5 km radius. Whereas eCommerce brings you all 26 million of Australian consumer base, even global if your product is versatile and not bulky to ship

Business Plan

Define a plan on how much will you sell, what will be the marketing budget and how will you promote your business. Online marketing is cheaper than conventional marketing, but it does require digital marketing experts to bring in traffic to your website. If the whole idea is viable for your business, it’s time to find the right technology.

Also research your competition to see how they sell and position themselves. This will be crucial for you to not repeat same mistakes. A good SEO consultant can help you analyse how your competitors market and use their website for attracting customers.

Prepare your Product Database

Once you setup an eCommerce website, you will quickly want to build your product catalogue. It’s extremely essential you get your product database sorted out first. You will need:

  • Make product categories – Figure out what are the different types of products. For example if it were clothes, then, Formal or casual can be different categories
  • Product attributes – In order to classify products more effectively, you will need to have database of each of your products with sizes, weight, color and other attributes. Make sure you document that in an spreadsheet so you are ready to build to go when you have the platform running. If you have worked on eBay/Amazon you may be familiar with most of this
  • Product images – High quality product images from various angles, even product videos if you really want the extra oomph.
  • Product description – A good description of product.and it’s vitally important you run past an SEO expert to help you get the right keywords there. Good keywords in your products will lead to higher search results of your eCommerce page.

Choose the right technology

Do it Yourself (DIY)

If you are fairly technical and want to give it a go yourself, I suggest to build an eCommerce store on Shopify. With $50 per month, you can easily experiment and build a platform and won’t go wrong with structure, security and maintenance. The platform does everything you can focus on managing products and promotion. It gets your started, but like all businesses you will need more features down the road. Customisations can be bought as apps on Shopify and they let you do a lot but usually cost $10-20 a month and the cost keeps stacking.

Another alternative and bit more expensive on is BigCommerce and it lets you do similar features.

WordPress with WooCommerce is probably the most popular option, but I highly recommend against DIY as it require a lot more technical oversight and maintenance. However, it’s the most flexible of the options and you can add features with heaps of plugins and custom development using web developers.

Find a technology partner

If you are serious about selling online and have a solid business plan, the smartest thing to do is to find the right technology partner . Technology partners have a lot more experience building, maintaining and promoting eCommerce solutions and will be able to help you with customisation, feature enhancements and routine maintenance of the website with you focusing on the core elements of the business. Some of the things you will really benefit from having someone run your website is to run promotions, customise features such as promotions and competitions, run newsletters, capture marketing data from customers, get analytics on how your website is performing and getting sales from your technology investment.