So you want to be a Shop Owner Part 1 of 5

Starting an online store has become the popular thing to do recently, however, most new shop owners are misguided, make rash decisions and lack the understanding and research necessary to be successful.  This series of 5 posts will hopefully serve as a guide to developing your own shopping cart website as painlessly and successfully as possible.  Lets get on with it…

So you want to be a Shop Owner Part 1

The first logical decision needed is a solid determination of your company’s need, ability and budget to build a web store.  There are many factors to consider…

  1. Are your products really salable in a shopping cart environment?
  2. Can you provide the stock and manpower necessary to fill orders from the web?
  3. Does your business answer the phones for extended hours?
  4. Can you afford the development and maintenance cost involved to develop and build a great online store?
  5. Can you and your co-workers manage the high dedication and demand of a great shopping website?

Does your company have products that can be properly ordered online or are they far to complicated, perishable or fragile to make it a good shopping venue?  There are in fact many products, regardless of their great profitability are just NOT suited for a shopping cart format.  Sometimes a nice informative static site with great content and a strong funneling or flow control to generate email or phone leads is just the ticket!

E commerce  is short for electronic commerce, and it seems like everyone has or wants an online store. Online stores are popping up for all different products types of industries… Its really amazing what you can buy online these days!  Many consumer based products are a  good line to sell on an e-commerce shop: all types of clothes, household gadgets and decor, all kinds of supplies, lighting and electrical, pet supplies, consumer electronics, and even cookies. However, as I eluded to earlier… Not all products are at all suited for the web shopper.  Very high dollar purchases that buyers will want to test drive and overly complicated items with many  of options and information requirements just do not have the potential to convert shoppers in to sales.

#2 Can your business fill the web orders in the event you are successful… Or will shoppers just complain about your service and delivery.  You see, even if the store obtains only minimal sales you and your staff have got to plan to deliver the expected level of service for your company… Even on the web.

I have seen very highly organized companies hit the web and fall on their proverbial asses.  You must develop the proper integration and procedures to connect you cart to your existing business.  This is not an area to work around, the integration needs to be seamless.

Absolutely plan to extend your phone hours.  Just because your store is on the web does not mean shoppers don’t have questions and problems.  That lie perpetrated by many e-commerce schemes “Make money in your home just 2 hours a week and gross 100k”.  If that’s what you think… Then play the lottery your odds are better.  The simple fact is this… Shoppers have become VERY aware of the abundance of online shopping stores and are EXTREMELY wary of shops who do not display hours, contact information…. and a TOLL FREE PHONE NUMBER.  You cannot hide from your customers and make any money.

The general cost of developing just a very basic shopping cart with NO other site pages is going to run you about $700 plus and you will still have monthly costs in maintenance, process, hosting and blah blah blah.  These additional costs depend very significantly on your level of dedication.  Lets face it, anything you can do properly yourself… Is basically FREE!

Next…Part 2 Choosing the Proper Shopping Cart Software – Due 8/11/2008

Part 3 Development Options and Choosing Proper Web Hosting – Due 8/13/2008

Part 4 Shop Necessities, Integration and Functionality – Due 8/15/2008

Part 5 Got My Store in Development, Now What? Due 8/18/2008

See you there~

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