So you’re thinking of starting an e-commerce site

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E-commerce is big and getting bigger. As more and more businesses enter the digital selling space there is a real risk of companies being left behind or floundering as a result of their analogue business model. As a result, some businesses are taking the plunge into e-commerce without enough preparation, and that can be devastating for both their brand and their bottom line. With that in mind, here’s a quick check-list of things you need to do before dedicating to digital.

Research your sector, and your competition

Before entering the space yourself, it’s important that you see what others are doing right (and what they’re doing wrong) so that you’re best prepared for the potential road-blocks that may come along. If you’re the first person in your sector to embrace digital selling (at this point it’s unlikely), congratulations! But don’t feel that you can’t study the successes and methods of other similar sectors to get the same kind of information.

Decide on a path (bespoke or out-of-the-box)

If you’re willing to invest some money into e-Commerce up front, then building your own site from the ground up is a great idea. By going down this path you can ensure that everything your business needs is right there from stage one. If you’re unable to invest that kind of money at the moment, there are out of the box solutions available that will hopefully provide much of what you’re looking for. Make sure you research their capability fully at the beginning before dedicating however, the last thing you want is to attempt to expand your business in 6 months only to find that your chosen platform cannot support your plans.

Self host or use a provider?

If you’re going to sell online then your shop has to stay open 24/7. In simple terms, that means you’re going to need a support team in place to make sure that everything is working as intended, every day of the year. Once again this comes down to budget. If you are able to both build and host your new website, as well as employ the necessary workers to keep everything running, we recommend that you do so. For many of you just starting out with e-commerce however, it may well be a choice between the two.

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with using a provider, in fact many companies do so because it takes a lot of the stress out of maintaining a website, and the retainers they charge to provide round-the-clock support is often far less than what it would cost to keep your own team of specialists available year round. You do of course run the risk of another client (either because they pay better, or the problem is more substantial) getting priority treatment, but that’s a risk that you have to settle on yourself.

Take a step back

I’ve listed this as a final step, but in many ways it should be your first. You don’t necessarily need to dive straight into creating your own e-commerce Many businesses plunge straight into creating their own e-commerce sites because they don’t think there is any other way, but there is always the option of trialling everything on a pre-established platform like Ebay.

Ebay gives you a chance to work out the kinks in your workflow, rather than finding out about them post-launch. For example, many businesses find themselves being tripped up by inadequate preparation around shipping and packaging, whereas a week selling on Ebay will give crucial insights into online selling that might otherwise have come too late.

e-commerce represents a huge opportunity to businesses both big and small, and should not be feared. It does however require respect, and preparation, in order to be successful. It is our hope that by following these suggestions you can better prepare yourself for your first foray into e-commerce, and continue to grow your business in both the digital and analogue space.