Having an online store is essential today to increase the visibility of your products and grow sales. However, setting up an e-commerce site requires some preparation. Before launching headlong into development or looking for a supplier, ask yourself the right questions!
- Do you really need an online store?
Why would you want to build your own e-commerce business when a giant such as Amazon can sell your products and save you from investing to make your shop known? It’s a question that seems innocuous but you must ask it yourself before taking any steps. Of course, a commission will be taken from each sale. The best thing is to weight the pros and cons and take out your calculator to assess what is most interesting for you. You can then make an informed decision.
2. What is your market and which territory are you going to sell in?
Do you have a large or small market? Can your products be sold anywhere in the world or only in your country? Taxes and regulations are not the same everywhere. It’s better therefore to find out. At the same time you could determine if you need to have your site translated into other languages besides the main one.
3. Who are your competitors?
Conduct a short market study to find out who your competitors are, how much they sell their products for and what your added value is compared to them. See also if the same types of products as yours can be found elsewhere than online and what the benefit is for a buyer to order them on the internet.
4. What is your target clientele?
This is one of the essential questions to ask yourself. Do you sell to individuals or to companies? Are your main customers men? Women? Both? What age group? In what socio-professional category and with what purchasing power? In order to adequately serve your future buyers, you need to know them well and identify their needs and interests.
5. How many items do you want to sell online?
Your technical needs will be different depending on the number of items you want to sell. Will your catalog contain 20, 100 or 500 products? By answering this question you will be able to determine the tool and platform to use.
6. What payment means do you want to make available to your customers?
It is important to offer several payment means to satisfy all your customers. Bank card, online credit, cheque, PayPal: there is no shortage of solutions. Of course, the transactions have to be carried out in an environment that is secure for both parties (the seller and the buyer).
7. How will your orders be delivered?
Delivery costs depend on the size, weight and type of product that you are selling. For example, fragile or perishable items will have higher shipping costs. So you have every interest in finding a carrier that will let you offer advantageous shipping costs to your customers. Indeed, be aware that shipping charges are the number one reason why potential buyers abandon their shopping cart.
8. What regulations or restrictions relate to your sector?
Find out about the various regulations in force in your area of activity. For example, if you sell abroad, certain restrictions or regulations may apply.
9. What budget do you have for your online shop?
Key question: how much are you ready to spend for your e-commerce site? Depending on the features desired its price will vary greatly. But one thing is certain – an online store is a long-term investment. So it is best to think about it from the outset. And remember that its creation is only the beginning of a long process. You will have to live with your site, make it known, maintain it, update the offers, etc. All this will incur costs.
10. Are you going to hire a specialized agency or develop your site yourself?
Certain platforms allow you to set up an online store without needing to know programming. Others offer turnkey solutions such as Shopify, Wizishop, Prestashop or Magento. Each has its advantages and disadvantages. If you have a complex site, use a specialized agency. At the end of the day, you will win. In all cases, compare prices and solutions.