Useful E-commerce start up Advice

for the lay-man!

Whew long title!

Ok in September I had the great idea of starting my own internet shop,
[]I had the time
]I had no money
[]I needed a job
]I don’t speak the local language - I am learning!

So I started looking around on the internet for some really useful and helpful advice… I couldn’t find any.

  • Either the articles were paid for by an e-commerce solution to make them look the best, or they just didn’t cover the real basics a non-computer programmer needs.
  • Nowhere was there information on what we as users require from the solution, just on what the solution offers us.
  • Ok I learned I needed a domain name and that I had to ‘point’ it…, it wasn’t until after I paid for the DNS pointing I discovered I should have bought the URL pointing.
  • I looked at numerous ecommerce solutions and played in 3 or 4 ‘sandboxes’ but actually learned very little from the technical side of things… ohhh, shiny! It looks so pretty!
  • I found delivery & tax options set for the US market when all I need are 4 types of flat rate delivery and 1 tax amount! (still don’t think I checked all the boxes and ticked all the squares, ‘coz somethin ain’t rite’)
  • I am now spending hours translating my whole site line by line into Danish… oh, and gif by gif too… as this solution does not have multiple language options… now that wasn’t mentioned up-front!
  • So I now face the next 12 - 24 months swappng and changing solutions until I find the right one for me! Because thats the only advice I can find out there…try it!
  • Oh how I dread the next 18 months…what if my shop takes off, will the solution I chose be good or will I find a dozen more ‘bear-traps’ awainting me…?

Lets face it, a new start up, with limited investment does not have the time or knowledge to waste on fine-tuning an ecommerce solution…we have a business to run. Right now my products and sales are taking the backseat and that just isn’t good business whichever platform you use, bricks and mortar or virtual!

So, has anybody got an article or ‘useful’ ecommerce suggestion that can help use newbies? Even if that advice is, ‘Hire a designer!’ I don’t actually have the investment for such a large out-lay, but when I consider how long this is going to take me to get ready for ‘launch’, I would have been better off using the money I bought stock with to pay the designer and then saving up again for the stock… having my ‘shop’ sitting there is less wasteful than boxes of items stagnating on a shelf!

Remember that while you are waiting for your shop to be complete, there are other channels where you can sell stock online, and which in the longer term will remain useful as sources of promotion, market diversification and customer acquisition: e.g ebay, amazon, gumtree, etsy … a lot depends on what you are selling, to whom, and what your main competitive advantages are in the market you are serving. In some cases, you can sell via a popular marketplace aggregator (fab, etsy) or drop ship in agreement with another retailer that serves your market, if what you have is unique.

Many online shop start-ups I’ve dealt with are sceptical of these channels as they generally fear that ‘it cheapens the brand’, ‘fees are too much’, ‘too little control’ etc, but if you can adjust your financial models to suit, the sheer size of these market places can be worth the effort (of course, there are many pitfalls with these too, but often well documented due to their popularity)

Oh, I agree absolutley with what you suggest, and I have looked at them. They are great but, for new start-ups like me with little up-front capital and most likely a job and family, the time it will take is more than we have available. I have to take those other options off the table for now, as it just adds more work to the amount I have, and also as where I am located the logistics were just to complicated for me.

My advice to someone in a similar position would be to go for those first and get them running, or to hand off the site build to a programmer and swallow the cost. That, in-hindsight, makes more sense to me now.

I guess what I lack is the business course that probably explains all this, but then again I couldn’t afford the course in the first place! So, like many others, I would like all this information, for free in a nice article I can read on-line. Too much to ask? Probably.

However, as dis-spirited as I sound, will I be giving up? Nope, not a chance. I hope I will have a successful business one day and I know I have learned a great deal. So either way I win.

Thanks for the reply and advice, I hope others here will find it and my ramblings useful.

The most useful advice is not to get overly excited. To make money you need a website that sells. And to make money, you need visitors that want to buy what you’re offering. If you can’t match the two together you’re not going to make any money. So first, create a website that looks professional and can actually SELL your visitors. A website that looks nice will not necessarily sell. Second, you need to figure out how to find customers through either Google, YouTube or some other means.

I am interested in your response here. Especially the “So first, create a website that looks professional and can actually SELL your visitors. A website that looks nice will not necessarily sell.” bit. I have just recently purchased a book on online marketing and am beginning my read. In the first couple chapters it seems that this (your quote) is particularly valid. It talks about the need to “sell” your visitors and many of the misconceptions and myths surrounding online shops.

One thing it describes is that search engine optimization (SEO) is great and high rankings are a must, BUT that alone does not guarantee you will make sales. Just because you have a lot of traffic to your website - or even a following does not mean people are buying anything. You need to understand one of the basic principles of marketing - sales! This is a psychology and an area that I am not overly familiar with, but I am attempting to do my research for betterment in this arena.

That being said I was wondering if you have any insight you would be willing to share regarding this topic: making visitors more likely to buy. There are wording strategies and various things - I will know more as I advance through this book - but I would love to hear your thoughts on this. If this is something of a “trade-secret” I understand and don’t want anyone to share anything they are closely guarding. If anyone feels comfortable with sharing please do!