When looking to sell online, the first thing that most people will do is head straight to one of the big marketplaces such as eBay or Amazon - or those with a bigger budget, to an expensive web design agency.
This is understandable because it seems like the easiest option, however, it’s easier than you might think for a small retailer to get into ecommerce. Build it yourself ecommerce platforms make setting up an online shop accessible regardless of wallet size or skill set. It is cheaper than going to a web design agency, and if you choose the right one the end result will be as effective as what you’d get from a professional.
You also have the ability to make changes whenever you want and avoid the listing fees accrued through marketplace selling.
The technical stuff
The last thing anyone new to website building wants to handle is the more technical side of setting up a website. This includes tasks like who to host your website with, finding somewhere to register a domain and worrying about security. With the choice of all-in-one providers around, you shouldn’t need to be concerned with any of these things. It’s important to find an ecommerce provider that can handle all of these things for you in one place.
Although creating the look of your shop is the fun part, design can be a scary word to anyone getting started in ecommerce. Most of the top ecommerce platforms provide pre built templates that you can customise the layout and colour of in just a couple of clicks, making the ‘design’ part actually less technical than the word implies.
The range and quality of templates available from each ecommerce provider varies and some only have a limited number of themes included within the price of shop rental, meaning that you might have to pay extra to get your website to look the way that you envisioned. The best ecommerce providers for you will have a large selection of templates to choose from included as part of the rental price.
One of the most important parts of setting up your online shop is getting paid. Look for an ecommerce provider that has payments included (the ability to accept all major credit and debit cards) within the platform to avoid the lengthy application processes and wait times commonly associated with setting up payment gateways.
Most ecommerce platforms work with features aka, plugins, which allow you to add extra functionality to your website. For example a ‘social media’ plugin will allow you to add links to your social media pages to your website, a ‘multi-currency’ plugin might enable your customers to change the currency they view products in on your website. An ecommerce provider should have all of the features that you need now, and anything you’ll need in the future - some added extras won’t hurt either.
For example, you might not need a live chat feature but it will enable you to provide your customers with a competitive customer service experience, and increase the amount you sell. You can browse what features you’ll get access to on the website of the provider.
A mobile friendly version of your website is essential from any ecommerce provider. As from April last year your website will be punished in search engine rankings if it is not optimised for mobile devices. Your ecommerce website should always come with a mobile friendly version available.
You should always check out reviews of your chosen provider using a reputable review platform such as Trustpilot before you sign up. Trustpilot is a well-known independent reviews website and will give a good insight into the overall customer experience provided by company.
Finally, a retailer looking to take their business online needs access to customer support. Just like any other service, you might need to get in touch with a human to answer any queries that you might have.
Antony Chesworth, founder and managing director of EKM
Image Credit: Bolyuk Rostyslav / Shutterstock