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A beginner’s guide to ecommerce

Gareth Waters

Gareth Waters

Helping SMEs and public sector organisations tell their brand story to increase awareness, enquiries and sales through marketing, PR and design services.

Co-Director, Alliance Marketing Agency

2020 – The year of change for consumer spending habits

2020 has seen many traditional high-street businesses having to adapt almost overnight in order to continue trading.

Your local butcher, baker (and even the candlestick makers) who until this year would have probably never contemplated building an ecommerce store were suddenly faced with the prospect of having little to no sales unless they moved into the online space.

Although the COVID pandemic has threatened to kill off many smaller, traditional businesses, those that have adapted to the ever-changing shopping habits of their customers have seen their businesses thrive in an online world.

Since March this year, we have worked with local bakers, butchers, training providers and even C02 refill companies to enable them to trade online in a very short timeframe so that they can continue to do businesses with not only their existing customers, but new customers that are searching for their products or services online, via social media or search engines.

What’s the first step to start selling online?

In order to start selling online, you’re going to need to choose a platform on which to sell. This can be done a number of ways, such as a stand-alone ecommerce website, integrating ecommerce functionality into an existing website or to sell on a third-party website such ebay or etsy. Below, we’ll briefly cover the pros and cons of each:

Selling on a third-party website

Pros: Selling on a third-party website such as ebay, etsy or amazon is a fairly simple and quick process. You can set up your own store, add products, prices and photos without having to learn how to use an ecommerce website. Because of the popularity of these stores, there is also a substantial amount of traffic that go to these stores so finding the product or services you sell is fairly easy.

Cons: In most cases there will be transaction fees associated with listing your products or services, which will be taken off every transaction that is made. Because it is a marketplace, you will probably be competing with many other businesses that are selling similar to you. On most of these types of marketplaces, you can only sell certain types of products, so they may not be suitable for businesses such as bakers, butchers or greengrocers who are selling fresh produce with a limited shelf life.

Integrating ecommerce into an existing website

Pros: Most businesses that currently have websites will be able to integrate ecommerce functionality into them. If your website is built on a CMS platform such as WordPress, Wix or Squarespace then it is fairly straight forward to install a plugin or add-on that will enable you to start selling online. This method is usually cheaper and quicker than having to start from scratch with a brand new website.

Cons: Depending on what platform your website is currently using, you may be limited as to what specific functions you can have included on your ecommerce website. We use the Woocommerce plugin on the majority of WordPress ecommerce websites we build as it enables us to include many additional features depending on the specific nature of the business. Some other platforms such as Wix or Squarespace may not have the functions you require, so it’s always worth doing the research before going ahead with adding ecommerce functionality to your website.

Having a bespoke ecommerce website built

Pros: Starting from scratch and having a bespoke ecommerce website built means that you’ll have something that should fit the exact requirements of your business and your customers. There are a number of specialist ecommerce platforms (we recommend something like Magento if you plan on having a substantial amount of products) although WordPress, Wix and Squarespace are also great alternatives if you need something less complex.

Cons: Having a bespoke ecommerce website built can be an expensive process, depending on which platform is used, what the hosting requirements are and which design agency you use to build it. It should be seen as a long-term investment though, as a well-built ecommerce website should generate income for you, turn visitors into repeat customers and also save you money in transaction fees if you were to use a third-party offering such as ebay or etsy.

Summary

Above, we have given you the most common examples of how a business will usually start their ecommerce adventure. We’ve helped businesses in all kinds of scenerios and we always recommend undertaking the research before-hand to understand the requirements of the business, such as how many products you intend to sell, how often your inventory will change and what the associated transaction fees and selling costs are before going with a particular system.

Thank you Alliance Marketing Agency

Alliance Marketing Agency are a proud partner of See No Bounds with a long term relationship stretching over many years, and we can definitely recommend you get in touch to find out more. Alliance Marketing Agency has already helped a number of traditional high-street businesses adapt to sell online and are always happy to chat with you to discuss an ecommerce project you may have. Please feel free to email them on [email protected] or give them a call on 01633 449885 to have a chat.

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