Building an eCommerce – Selling Online – Where to Begin

HOW TO BUILD AN ECOMMERCE WEBSITE - SELLING ONLINE - WHERE TO BEGIN

HOW TO BUILD AN ECOMMERCE WEBSITE:

shopping-cart-graphicWhether you are just beginning to think about selling products online, or whether you have finished all of your pre-building-website research, you will need to answer some of the questions outlined below in order to build the proper eCommerce website.

For example, you don’t want to start off copying and pasting PayPal buttons if you are planning to expand your ecommerce website to sell hundreds or even thousands of items.  It would be a nightmare to do price changes or sales, etc.

You also do not want to invest in a high-functioning shopping cart that will need to be managed by an expensive web developer if you are selling a small line of handmade products where PayPal buttons would be the best choice. 

FIRST QUESTION:  LARGE OR SMALL ECOMMERCE?

Therefore, the first question to be answered is how large or how small is your product line?  If you are selling up to 10 items and you will be selling the same items all the time, this is considered a small line of products and you would then need a small eCommerce website.  You can easily build a WordPress website, and copy and paste PayPal buttons to handle the entire eCommerce process.  This is a simple enough procedure that any beginner can handle.

If you are starting with 10 to 15 products to sell, but you intend to add to this line of products continually, then you want to start off with an eCommerce system that will be able to accommodate this type of growth.  You can use a platform like WordPress, which you can manage yourself, and also installing a plugin called Woocommerce and this would be your best choice.   Woocommerce can continue to expand up to thousands of items and hundreds of categories.  It is also pretty simple to operate.

Copying and pasting PayPal buttons is very simple.  On a scale of 1 to 10, 10 being the most complicated, copying and pasting PayPal buttons is about a 3.  You do need to open a business account on PayPal.com, follow the instructions on how to add your bank account so PayPal can deposit profits, and you then need to copy and paste html codes correctly.  Again, once you see this in action, you will be able to do it.

SECOND QUESTION:  DO YOU WANT YOUR ECOMMERCE WEBSITE TO BE EXPANDABLE?

expandable-rubberbandWhat if you don’t know if you want to expand your product line?  It’s important to know that unless you are making your own products and want to actually manage your growth, selling online is one of the most scaleable businesses available today.  Once your products are uploaded, the website functions almost on autopilot, so it doesn’t require any more effort to sell 10,000 items (once they are uploaded) than it does to sell 10.

Every item you sell will require at least one picture, and if you have more than one picture, even better.  Every item will also require a written description and a price.  Variable products will need to have sizes, colors, and other “variable information” added to each one.  This does take time during the upload of a product, but that is the only work each item requires. 

So if you can picture it, if you add 30 products per month, that would mean you would add one new product per day.  Now you can picture how easily you can build a small product line into a huge online store.  You will only need to find new product sources. 

THIRD QUESTION:  WILL YOU HAVE A PRODUCT LINE OR WILL YOU BE SELLING RANDOM ITEMS?

One other important question to answer is whether you will be selling the same items over and over again or whether you will be selling one of a kind items?  This is an important question to answer because maybe a different platform would be better.  For every item you sell, you will need a picture, a detailed description, brand information, bar code (if applicable) and a price.  

So if you sell the same items over and over again, you do not need to continually add the item over and over again.  The Woocommerce plugin handles your inventory and will send you an email when it is time to order more from your wholesaler, or make more if it is a handmade item.

However, if you are selling one of a kind items, bear in mind that each item will need to be photographed, photograph uploaded, along with the other description, pricing, etc.  

WOULD EBAY/CRAIGSLIST/FACEBOOK BE A BETTER ECOMMERCE PLATFORM?

ebay-homepage

Ebay has a huge following of shoppers and their fees are pretty reasonable, depending upon who you talk to.  It’s a matter of opinion.  If you think along the lines that you don’t have any rent, phone service, electric to pay every month for a brick and mortar store, the money you pay in fees and commissions to Ebay can be seen a pretty good and fair deal.

Ebay sells used items and the people who shop there are usually looking for good deals on used items.  Amazon shoppers are usually looking for brand new items.  Craigs List is looking for local items.  Even Facebook Marketplace is now selling items through its app where people can see things for sale in their general area.

So if you want to sell cribs or other handmade furniture, and the shipping on something like this would be expensive, you should try local marketplaces first where you can arrange for people to pick up those items.

However, if you sell from your own website, there are no “fees” or “commissions” to be paid.  You can find out ahead of time how much some item such as a crib would cost to ship, and you can add this into the cost of the item and offer “free shipping”.  Or if you are drop-shipping items, you can forward the order (minus your commission) to the wholesaler to take care of the purchase and mailing entirely.  Most customers know that shipping large items can be expensive.  The wholesaler can make suggestions on how to handle the shipping costs.  

Choosing the best marketplace for your products will be one of the most important decisions you make in starting an online eCommerce. 

PRODUCT LINE – CUSTOM MADE:

custom-product-lineIf you will be making your own custom made products, such as custom jewelry, or custom clothing, you will need time to create your items and maintain an inventory.  Having your own website will enable you to control your growth as well as maintaining your inventory.  You can maintain an item in your store and mark it “sold out” and leave a message about when the product will be available again.  You can also allow back orders on a product as well. When a customer orders something as a back order, they will know they must wait for the delivery more than normal. 

PRODUCT LINE – NEED WHOLESALE SUPPLIER:

sell-wholesaleIf you are planning to sell wholesale products, research wholesalers and drop-shippers and see what type of products you wish to sell.  You will need to do your own marketing because others will be selling the same things. 

Becoming really good at marketing is easy when you figure that once your website is up and running, your only job really is marketing your website.  You can devote 40 hours a week at first and then once you get to be a wizard at marketing, you can scale it back to 20 hours a week or less, as much of online marketing can go on autopilot as well. 

WHOLESALER SUPPLIES PHOTOGRAPHS:

Many wholesaling companies know their products are going to be sold online, so they have high resolution photographs of the items already done and they email them to you in a downloadable file.  It couldn’t be easier.  Then you do not even have to take your own photographs of the items for sale.

megagoods-csvCSV FILE:  Many of these same wholesaling companies know that the eCommerce software allows for easy uploading of what is called a csv file.  Picture an excel file with every column being some product particular (name, product description, item number, price, etc) regarding each item.  Very often the pictures themselves can be uploaded from the downloadable file, and you can insert the html before and after the photo name in order to upload the photo links along with the csv file. 

The matching of the photos and the products does require a little bit of skill, but it can be learned by a newbie.  The manufacturers may even have instructions they offer.  The manufacturers want to make selling their items as easy as they can. 

PHOTO SETUP

limostudioNow, if you are selling one of a kind items, or your manufacturer does not offer photos, you can set up a professional photo studio in your own home with a few lights, a backdrop and a mannequin, a jewelry display, or the like.  There are many videos on youtube by Ebay sellers and other online entrepreneurs.   The set pictured to the here is under $200.  It is also collapsible and can be contained in the black case that is shown so even if you live in an apartment, this can easily work for you.

If you will be selling clothing or jewelry, they also sell clothing manikins and black velvet jewelry display pieces on eBay and other places on the internet.  This small investment will give your items the same professional look at the big box retailer stores that sell online.  

DON’T WAIT ANY LONGER:

So get start today.  Have a look around at www.DeerfieldWebDesigner.com and check out the blog area for lots of articles and how-to videos about building a website and an eCommerce.  If you have a question or two that you need answered before you begin, please don’t hesitate to contact me!  

 

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