What is involved in setting up a simple ecommerce website? It’s easy to find examples of fully realized ecommerce experiences, but why will nobody show you how they got there? Probably because it involves work and decisions that set the procrastination meter to 100 – but stick with it! You can be selling around the clock in no time!
Adding ecommerce to your website is a great move to add ROI on your current website investment!
In an effort to help clients who’ve made the move to enhance their website, here is a quick article of what is involved for everyone. This means what your designer will do to your site as well as the basic business decisions involved to start, manage, and maintain an online store in the longterm.
Like other websites, every ecommerce site has different goals, products, and concerns when selling their products online. While the information below is not likely complete for every situation, it should give you a basic idea of the overall process for the business and designer. If you have unanswered questions, please leave a comment or contact us for more information! We will edit this article to include questions too good to overlook!
Decision: Online Stock / Offline Stock
Often overlooked too far down the process, a business must decide how stock will be handled (sometimes a deal breaker), but there are a few options:
- Will the online store draw from the same stock as the brick and mortar store?
If there is one item but it is sold online and in-store on the same day, how will that be resolved? Drawing from the same stock is usually possible if (a) there are tones of stock on hand at all times, or (b) the store is small enough where it is mentally easy to be aware of stock at all times. If a single item is sold in-store, then it may be possible for the owner to be aware and immediately remove it from online sales.
- Can the business keep online stock separate from in-store stock?
This would eliminate items being inadvertently being “back ordered”, however, can the business afford to separate stock this way?
- Connected PO System “in the cloud” – if a business is lucky, their PO system can be connected to the website to track online and offline sales. Typically new businesses are lucky enough to consider this option if they consider it before they open (to consider venders compatible with their chosen website software) rather than older businesses fully invested in a PO system full of 10,000 items they have already been using for years and does not include options to connect to a website or migrate to “the cloud” for future compatibility.
Modification of Current Website
The base software we use is free, however, if advanced functions are required, then add-ons are extra and may required a yearly renewal in order to qualify for continual software updates. The design and/or layout of the website will also need to be adjusted to accommodate the display of products.
- Addition of link(s) to navigation
- A section to display products on the homepage.
This will not display all products, but can be featured products, the latest products added to the site, or a graphical display of categories of products. Of course, products on the homepage are not required, but it would be advisable to have a “call to action” to introduce visitors to the new online shop.
- Additional pages may include:
- A “Shop” page listing all products
- Each product will have it’s own page featuring complete product details
- If there are enough products to require being split into categories, pages featuring products of each category will be available.
- A “cart” icon will be added to the header to indicate when an item is in the customer’s cart
There are a number of payment options available. Functions available are “Pay Online” by credit card, “Pay Offline” (this would allow the collection of a credit card # but you can process it with an existing credit card terminal), “Pay at Pickup”, OR you have the option to use your shop as a catalogue to generate leads to suit your business model, meaning, you don’t have to sell anything to make it worthwhile!
We recommend Paypal or Square as your credit card processor*. Our ecommerce software is able to easily use Paypal or Square as your credit card processor out of the box, and there is no charge to use either if you do not generate transactions, and both charge a transaction fee comparable to most other processors. Though we are most familiar with Paypal (we use Paypal!), both are easy to set up and we can assist you.
Sidenote: If your small business needs a swiper without the contracts, Square offers a free swiper attached to your smartphone!
*Please note we will need access to your Paypal account or close cooperation to configure your site to work with Paypal.
Sales tax and shipping rates for your products will need to be configured for what you sell and based on where you are willing to ship (national or international).
Regarding tax, in Canada you will need to supply what products require GST, PST, and/or both, and if those taxes are applicable to buyers inside and/or outside your Province. If you intend to sell internationally, taxes will need to be decided for those locations as well (which could mean no taxes).
Shipping is usually the hardest decision of the whole process and is quite often where software add-ons are required depending on the situation. Options range from EASY, Medium, or COMPLEX.
- Easy: The easiest shipping options are “Customer Pickup” or “Flat Fee” shipping. Flat Fee Shipping usually requires finding a middle ground for your feed depending on where you are willing to ship. Typically this will be a bit more expensive for customers as the fee may be more than required to cover your bases, however, you may take the occasional hit if the shipping is not 100% covered by your shipping fee.
You can offer “Quote For Shipping” – this is easy upfront as you do not have to work out a flat shipping method, however, you will have to follow up with each order AND charge the customer a second time for the exact shipping based on their location.
The most complex shipping system is to purchase and set up shipping calculator software connected to your chosen shipper for live shipping quotes (Canada Post, Purolator, etc.). Using a shipping calculator also forces you to include the weight and measurements of your product in the details, which if you have a lot of products, can be VERY time consuming. However, in the long run, the above scenario will likely turn out to be the least complex overall once the upfront work is done. You will no longer have to worry about incorrect shipping costs or follow up with clients requiring quotes. Of course, more complex shipping arrangements do exist, like with the option to bundle more than one product into one shipping box, etc.
If you’ve made it this far, it’s apparent why ecommerce suppliers typically provide a finished example of ecommerce and gloss over the real work involved. It’s dry stuff compared to the final shopper’s experience, BUT IT’S ALL WORTH IT!
Creating ecommerce is definitely not as fun as having your final, fully operational online store, but once you are up and running, you’ve realized the unlimited potential of 24-7 sales! Let us help!