Selling online can be a very expensive company overhead, or not depending on your approach. We have many clients who sell online so we always give the same starting advice. Let’s start with the most popular products from your catalogue, start small and build, selling online is a learning experience.
One main issue that puts people off starting a shop is listing the products, well it should not. At some point you will have generated a spreadsheet which has your products and a price, now it just needs a few more fields of information and that can then be imported into your online shop. The basic field names are:
Even taking the manual approach to this you should be able to get 20-30 products listed in your spreadsheet within a couple of hours. Using the spreadsheet method means further editing of products is quick and simple, by just exporting and importing information to your shop.
There are many sites out there that offer reviews, bear in mind that some sites carry paid reviews. But you can use a search engine just like us.
Paid Solution v Opensource(1)
- Paid solution – normally a monthly charge – or based on sales revenue
- Opensource – software is free supported by your developer
We prefer to use Opencart/Woocommerce as our solution to getting your business online, our developers have been using these for many years. They are well support by a vast online community, the plug-ins and modules are realistically priced. There is no purchase cost or ongoing fees which means that your set-up costs are being spent in getting your products online.
Things to consider when looking to sell online are packaging – delivery – size weight – delivery zones – overseas delivery – customer returns – damaged deliveries – terms & conditions and after all this how are you going to get paid for your product.
There are lots of payment gateways and of course they don’t do it for free, some offer the service where you purchase a number of credits for a given time frame which can keep costs lower but if you don’t use the credits within the time frame they do not carry over. Most solutions work on a percentage of sale value for instance Paypal charge between 2.3% to 2.7% which may sound like a lot but there is no monthly charge or set-up cost. So if you are just dipping your toe in the water to see if online selling is for you, we would suggest this option.
Our client shops range from polytunnels – music – printer inks – furniture – headboards – computer spares – tractor parts. We know from experience that getting it right for you, means more business for us so we want your online business to succeed.
Online Shop Solutions
With any of the above solutions you are just getting a framework to put your products in. This can be a very time consuming process, and a steep learning curve when it goes wrong.
These are packages that are free to download and use born from a developers idea which he opened to a community to use. Many opensource projects (Opencart – WordPress – Joomla – Drupal) have been around for years and have grown through the input of many developers who maintain the core package. Support for these opensource products is via large community forums, that are well supported. Should you go this route for your website, please make a donation to the project as they also have to pay a hosting provider.