If you are going to start a business today, you know perfectly well that it has to have an online presence. The new business idea needs an online platform as the world today has become very dynamic. Businesses now escalate online than a brick and mortar shop. Opening an e-retail is a must. There is a very basic reason behind that. Ease of communication is one of the major ways that internet activities have grown up.
This ease of communication has also become the ground for many enterprises to have a billionaire status. With everybody now living on the internet, it seems only logical that having a shop on the net will bring huge dividends. To own a shop there, knowledge of e-commerce is a necessity. Following are some tips to take care when opening an online retail shop. (Examples of actual retail stores are given for mere help in understanding!)
1. Estimation and Budget – First things first. Setting your budget through a careful estimation of the overall cost should be the starting point. Cost estimation for an e-commerce platform often becomes tricky. Imagine you are opening a real physical store. Yes! When you think like that it becomes easier.
Just like you would need capital for store rent, inventories, staff, maintenance, product and marketing, about same will be your expenses in an online e-retail in the form of platform services, inventories, graphic designing, shipping, hosting or self-hosting and so on. The catch is that you need to get online substitutes of all the offline necessities.
2. Type of product you are selling – You must be thinking why I am talking about physical things while talking about online platform. The reason is simple. Only the medium of business is changing. The basics are still the same. The product is the winner ultimately. The product you choose to sell will decide how to use the features of your e-commerce platform. Since the vertex of online shopping is huge now, you will get various features. In simple terms, your shop should look as a home of your product. If the product sees diversification, you should be able to accommodate it in your system.
3. What platform to choose – It is necessary that you think about it very seriously. Generally speaking, there are two type of platforms for e-commerce. One is the SAAS (Software as a Service) while other being an open source platform. If you know the concept of opening a shop at a marketplace or having an individual store then it becomes easy to understand this.
(i) SAAS is our marketplace or popularly known as a mall. If you choose SAAS, you just have to buy the service of your provider and sign up into your account. After that, you will be given the charge of your ecosystem where you can keep a tab on payment gateway, updates, maintenance etc. You need not worry about the developing process as all will be taken care by the developers of the software you choose. The thing with SAAS is that since you will be given a shop in a mall, you will not have many options to design it your way and will have limited chances of different designing. This means that the templates and designs of your web place will be limited and if you grow your business, you will have to spend for new and better features.
(ii). Now comes the open source platform. This is our personal store. You will have your own developers. You will choose how to design your web place (UI/UX interface), you can bring customization in payment gateways and product page, test the site and so on. The whole process will take a time of 1-6 months while SAAS would take less than 2 weeks. The advantage over SAAS is that you have your own freedom and can make any design by paying your developer. In a physical sense, it means that you have your own architectural design ready for your shop. You have the freedom and your wish.
It’s not as if one is the clear winner. The whole world is actually evenly distributed over SAAS and open source platform. Now it’s up to you that how do you compare their pros and cons according to your business desires and need.
4. Will it have a hosting service or self-hosted – Once you tackle the question of SAAS or open source platform, you need to go to a deeper in technicalities. Deciding to take a hosting service or a self-hosting is sort of challenge too. If you get a hosting service, some other party which you will hire will give the server for you. In self-hosting, the server will be downloaded into your own system and you can access them. Both of them have their pros or cons. Things like data security, handling, easiness, the size of business have to be kept in mind while choosing the website hosts.
5. Marketing – The highly organized internet is a vast place to market your product. It opens unheard dimensions of marketing opportunities.
6. How the end-user will see it – All the above things lead us here. The final screw to tighten to make your business worth. Whatever work you do in your budget estimation, product choosing, technicalities etc. will be directly seen here. The ease of which the end-user is able to select the product, change it, find its alternatives and finally check out will decide the success or failure of your enterprise. All this will depend on how robust your overall managing and technical system is.
Conclusion – The above 6 points will make the core knowledge of the platform you are going to choose. At the end, how solid is your technology and how creative you can become to showcase your product will define your growth. It should be understood without mentioning that e-commerce must be followed by an m-commerce platform. M-commerce brings in the notion of the use of apps. Web sites and apps together can do really well to your business.