According to Statista, online retail sales accounted for 14.1% of all retail transactions worldwide in 2019. As COVID-19 is dramatically changing the face of our global economy, this upward trend is unlikely to end. reverse anytime soon. In fact, some reports predict that over 95% of all sales will be made online by 2040. This means you might be missing out on a great opportunity to generate sales and grow your business if you don’t currently have online store. .
Fortunately, adding an ecommerce platform to your existing site can be easier than you expected. The specific steps will be a little different depending on your unique product offerings and the tools you choose to use, but here are some general guidelines on what to expect when setting up your online store:
- Identify the options for your e-commerce platform based on your CMS
- Collect inventory information for e-commerce data
- Determine e-commerce billing policies and processes
- Identify shipping solutions for purchases in your online store
- Market your online store
1. Identify the options of your e-commerce platform according to your CMS
Before you can start selling your items online, it’s important to first decide which ecommerce platform will be the best fit for your business and goals. It may depend on the content management system (CMS) you are currently using to manage your site.
Some systems, like WordPress, integrate easily with plugins like WooCommerce, while others like Squarespace or Wix have limited integrations but come with powerful ecommerce tools out of the box. Alternatively, if you are planning to totally refresh your website, it might be worth considering migrating your existing site to a CMS that prioritizes ecommerce, like Shopify or Square.
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Whichever option you choose, you should prioritize building an online store that is optimized for a mobile shopping experience. According to PWC, consumers shop on smartphones more often than on PCs, so an online store that doesn’t offer a great mobile experience does only half the job.
2. Collect inventory information for e-commerce data
You probably already have an organizational method for keeping track of your inventory. But since your customers won’t be able to physically interact with the items you sell online, you’ll need to develop a few additional resources before you can start taking orders online.
In addition to the SKU and quantity of each item, you will also need to write descriptions of each item, including materials, dimensions, and care instructions, if applicable. Not only do they give customers the concrete details they need to make purchasing decisions, but they can also benefit your website’s search engine optimization (SEO). Just be sure to include relevant keywords in the description copy.
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You should also take multiple photographs of each item to give your customers an accurate visualization of the product. Include all the appropriate angles as well as photos of finer details that may be missing from the full product images. Lifestyle photos or demo videos can also promote your brand identity, serve as social media posts for promotion, and help your customers distinguish your product from your competition.
3. Determine e-commerce billing policies and processes
Invoicing orders online takes a little more preparation than in-store transactions, and most ecommerce platforms need your business details before they can process payments on your behalf. This includes banking and routing information for your business account (s) as well as your business sales tax permit. From there, you can enter pricing details for your inventory and consider promotional code opportunities. Both of these may be the same as your in-store prices and promotions, but it may be beneficial to increase your online profit margin slightly depending on your shipping method or to announce special promotions to drive traffic to your store. in line.
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Depending on the product you are selling, you may need to research international / state sales restrictions and tax requirements to ensure your business complies with shipping and billing regulations in all affected countries. For example, your business might have a head office in Tennessee, a warehouse full of merchandise in Georgia, and a customer in Virginia. In this case you would have a link (legitimate commercial presence) in each of these states and subject to their tax obligations. Keep in mind that states like Alaska, Delaware, Montana, New Hampshire, and Oregon do not charge sales tax, but they may have other restrictions on the type of merchandise you can. ship to customers who live there.
4. Identify shipping solutions for purchases in your online store.
This brings us to another set of questions about your online store: How are you going to ship your products to your customers? If your products are of a standard size or weight, it may make more sense to use a flat rate shipping charge. Otherwise, shipping by weight could be more economical and convenient for you and your customers. Or, it may be better to offer your customers completely free shipping; in fact, a 2019 study found that 68% of consumers had not completed their purchase if free shipping was not available.
Whatever shipping options you choose to offer your customers, you will need to determine which carrier will be best suited to your needs. Popular options for domestic and international carriers include UPS, USPS, and FedEx. Some carriers prioritize shipping speed, while others may offer lower costs or more flexibility for pickup and delivery times.
You will also need to determine the type and amount of shipping materials you need to ensure your customers’ orders arrive safely and include these expenses in your budget. If you are shipping fragile items, be sure to include bubble wrap or peanuts in your shipping material checklist. Or, if some of your items are irregular in shape, you may need to find containers with custom dimensions. You can also add a branding image to your shipping materials for an ultra-personalized touch!
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Likewise, same-day pickup or delivery options add a unique appeal to local customers. Whether they’re doing last-minute shopping or simply prefer the convenience of an online shopping experience, local pickup and delivery offers a new layer of convenience without incurring a significant cost to you.
5. Market your online store
Once you’ve identified your ecommerce platform, gathered your inventory information, determined your billing processes, and decided on your shipping options, you should have all the elements in place for an ecommerce website. fully functional. It’s time to market your online store to the world!
An obvious place to start is a dedicated social media and / or email marketing campaign. You can use these channels to alert your current audience to your new online store and reach new customers beyond your geographic region. Google Shopping is another channel you might want to use. Consider setting up a Google merchant account and connecting your inventory so people can find your products in their search results. (Check out this article for step-by-step instructions on how to accomplish this.)
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You’ll also want to leverage existing traffic on your site and in your physical storefront. Your CMS may have an option to create a popup banner, or you may find a plugin integration that will send a message to your site visitors and direct them to your new online store. Additionally, you may want to explore low cost printing options to market your eCommerce options to your in-store customers.
Join the future of e-commerce
Ecommerce can seem like an intimidating new frontier, but it will likely bring greater success to your existing business model. Not only will you have the ability to increase your sales volume and income, but you will also unlock new marketing and advertising opportunities beyond your physical location. You will be able to reach new customers around the world and make sure you aren’t left behind as the retail world becomes more focused on online business.