Want To Start An E-Commerce Website? Take These First Steps
By Alex HD
Every second businessman is opening up an eShop or an eCommerce website. But how many are getting it right? Not many. The online business is either not generating enough sales or the logistics involved are terribly expensive. This article help eCommerce entrepreneurs take their first steps in setting up a website. So if you have decided to start your own eCommerce website, then this article should be useful to you.
Before starting your eCommerce journey, you should put down your objectives on paper. While this may seem frivolous and redundant, you will realize how difficult it is and how complex your thoughts are, when you start jotting them down. The reason for doing this at the preliminary stage is so that you realize what you are trying to achieve and how you are going to achieve it. This should be your business objective, solely envisaged for your website. This will and should be different from the objective of your brick and mortar business if you have one, but will have traces of similarity as far as the core aim is concerned. If you laugh off putting down your objectives, you are sure to waiver and falter when the website is up and running. Improper business planning is one of the main mistakes that eCommerce adventurists make. Putting your thoughts down on paper will also help you when drafting legal contracts and documents for your vendors and employees.
The next main step about having an eCommerce website is to choose a design for your store front. While most people choose ready made eCommerce systems like magento, open cart, prestashop etc. there are a few persons with deep pockets who may want to reinvent the wheel and build a custom designed website. ECommerce systems are preferred due to their quick turnaround time and see-before-you-buy capability. Whichever option you choose, you should ensure that you will get continuous support for it at an affordable cost. Buying a dirt cheap template which requires you to buy hundreds of expensive addons is a total rip-off. Similarly, choosing a platform which requires special hosting or server resources can also be a bad idea. Also ensure that you will not be locked into the designer or design team in case you want to move out or switch to some other system. If you are planning to employ designers in-house, make sure that you have different projects to keep them occupied and that you have a hierarchy of at least 3 levels in their team, so that you don’t burn them out or bore them with a single project.
If you are planning to hire coders on a full time basis, you may want to ensure that they have diverse knowledge and not specific to a particular technology. The team overall should be strong enough to support your future needs as well. You may also need to ensure regular training and technical sessions for them, so that their knowledge does not rust and it keeps them active and on their toes too.
Something which small entrepreneurs ignore is legalities and putting down agreements on paper. When you hire people to work on your website, be it for SEO or designing or even coding, you should ensure that your company data and business secrets remain confidential. Signing a Non-Disclosure agreement is an important way of securing your business property and ensuring you get an edge over your competitors. Another critical aspect about starting out on an eCommerce venture, is having a formal agreement or contract with your web designers and coders. All terms of work, costs, payment conditions and milestones should be clearly defined and laid out in the agreement. Taking the help of a lawyer and getting these documents drafted will definitely be worth the fees.
The most important aspect of setting up an eCommerce website, after you have done all of the above, is to run a small sample test website. Taking baby steps and then taking giant leaps is the only way you will be able to steadily rise. No matter how big you plan to become and how much money you plan to pump into your business, it is important that you do a test run of your entire business model. You can have a full fledged website setup, with payment gateway, CDN systems and even mobile apps, but do it with a small set of products. Even big companies like Google and Amazon start out small when they launch a new project. Doing the pilot test run will allow you to gauge how much hosting space you need; how much server resources you need; do you need a dedicated server?; do you need a backup solution?; which payment gateway plan is most economical?; should you hire more employees?; which parts of your business can you automate?; which courier or shipping service is most affordable?; which country or geography should you target to sell your products? and many more questions.
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