The current business climate is changing and there is no sign of it slowing down. It is important for small businesses to not get left behind and keep up with what customers expect from businesses in 2019.
This year it is estimated that there will be 1.92 billion global digital buyers.
They will be responsible for 13.7% of total retail sales worldwide through e-commerce. Last year Australians spent a total of $28.6 billion online shopping.
But what do these figures even mean for your small business? E-commerce a whole new avenue for you to engage and provide for your customers. You may be thinking something like: ‘my customers like coming in store and talk,’ or ‘they like to touch, feel and see for themselves what they’re buying.’
You’re completely correct. Part of what makes small businesses unique is the personal connection between the customer and you.
But let’s think big!
What if you have a regular customer who loves your products but has to move to Sydney for work, or someone discovers your store through their friends or your social media page but has no way of purchasing from you? Having an e-commerce store gives your customers the opportunity to purchase from you, no matter where they are. This is one of the many benefits of having one set up for your business.
So now you understand why it’s beneficial to have an e-commerce site for your small business. But how exactly, do you set one up?
Let’s dig into that!
1. Get a Domain Name
A domain name should be the first place to start when building an e-commerce site. A domain name is how your customers actually find your store! It is important to have one that is clear, identifiable and memorable for your customers.
Here are some top tips when choosing your domain name:
- Make it as close to the name of your business as possible, this will help build trust with customers and protect you from copycats.
- If your domain name looks ‘dodgy’ or ‘fake,’ customers will be deterred from ordering from you.
- If you have a commercial business your domain will end in .com (Educational ends in .edu).
- You can pick your country code (.com.au) if you especially want to be identified as an Australian business
- If your domain is .co some local customers may have trouble finding you as .com or .com.au will not work
You now may be thinking about how to actually go about purchasing one… Most host sites will allow you to purchase your domain name through them (must be renewed on terms, usually annually).
There are many web hosting services out there you can choose from to purchase your domain name from. You’ll have to do your research to determine which one is the best option for you.
2. Choose your Host Site/E-Commerce Website Builder
Once you’ve got your domain name, it’s time to get your e-commerce website off the ground! The good news for you is that most platforms have made it super easy for you to do yourself. The most popular sites offer free trails too, so you can get a feel for it and see if it’s the right match for you!
The most popular online builders:
- Big Commerce
The reason why choosing an online store builder is the best option for small businesses is because they not only give it a place to live on the internet, keep it running (avoids crashes), allows for multiple products, services or digital based goods to be sold on their site and also provides marketing tools for you to promote your business.
3. Choose a Plan
Every business will be different. One plan may suit you whilst another could suit your competitor. Every business is unique.
To give you an idea, Shopify Basic and Standard Big Commerce cost under $30 a month, Wix starts at $20.
This is a base rate.
It won’t include all of the features these platforms have to offer, which is why it is important to do your research and see what features will actually provide value for your business.
4. Template Time
Now it’s time for the fun part! Each platform will offer multiple different templates and it’s up to you to pick which one represents your business the best.
It is important to design your website in a way that will make it stand out for all the right reasons.
- Business branding
- The products or services you sell
- Ease of use
- Colour scheme
- Your personality
- Consider your competitor’s design
Customers are smart. Chances are if they’re on your website, they’ve been on other e-commerce sites before as well. If it looks outdated or too complicated to use, they will get frustrated and choose not to shop with you.
Don’t forget to link your social media accounts to your site and vice versa. You want customers to find you everywhere, be as accessible as possible! Integrate your channels so that at every touchpoint, you can drive customers back to your website.
What are you actually selling? There’s no point having an e-commerce site if there’s nothing for customers to buy.
Each platform will have its own unique way of adding products or services. However, let’s look at the basics:
- Name of products/services
- Description – What is it? What does it do? What does it include? How will it benefit the customer? Why do they need this in their life? Here is where you showcase the what and why of the product or service!
- Measurements and weight of the product are essential and often forgotten
- Price – Does this fluctuate per size?
Always remember, the more information you give, the more your customer will feel confident in their purchase and will encourage them that their order will be a success!
6. Payment Method
How are your customers actually going to pay for the products? If they can’t pay, they’ll just stay browsing and won’t be converted into a buyer.
It is important to note that the more payment options available to the customer, the more chances you have of them purchasing. One customer may only trust and use PayPal for their online purchases, while the other may find Afterpay a lot more wallet-friendly.
Popular Payment Options:
- Merchant Account and Payment Gateway – partner with a bank to accept payments for you that will then be channelled into your business bank account
- Payment Gateway Packages – use all in one software to connect your business’ shopping cart to the card processing network
- Simplified Credit Card Payment Processing – use a service that integrates with stores checkout.
Align your payment option choices with what you believe is not only best for your business, but for your customers too.
How are you going to get the product to the customer? It is important to not get in over your head, make sure you can realistically deliver the products to the customer and be prepared to pay attention to activity on your site to fulfil any orders.
Here is a checklist you can think about:
- What zones are you prepared to ship to? Worldwide, state-wide, country-wide?
- Shipping options – free, flat rate, real-time quotes or rate by order price? See what is most realistic for you and your business. Check with advisors and see what the best fit is for your business.
- Shipping service – who is actually going to deliver it? Australia Post, Startrack, DHL?
If you have successfully navigated your way through everything listed above, you are ready to preview your site and set it free to go live!
It may seem like a lot to take in, feel free to have a read here if you would like more detailed information in setting up an e-commerce website. Have some peace of mind knowing that whatever platform you choose, it will have directions for set up and customer support.
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