A good way to start is to clarify the following before you take the first step of going into business online. Keep in mind that most of the difficulties an Online Retailer faces are decisions related to identifying and approaching your consumers and finding the right models to service their orders….and not related to technology…
- What are you planning to sell?
You may want to move only a few categories or products from your complete range online, or may want to move them online in phases. Just because you can move your whole range online easily doesn’t mean that you should do that. It can easily lead to supply related issues and customer dissatisfaction which can rub off on your physical retail operations.
- What will your target customers be?
It’s no use if your target customers are people who do not use the internet at all.
- What are the likely volumes you can expect?
Put in some target levels just so that you can have something to shoot at…Keep revising your targets as you move forward…
- What level of effort do you want to put in?
Can you spare a team to manage your online store….will your people have part time responsibility? Or do you want to bring a specialist partner in….or do you want to just do a pilot before launching full Online Retail operations…
- You may also want to have a look at competitors who already have an online store and learn from their experience.
- Once you’ve decided your approach…..you need to get your web store in order.
Booking Your Website
Decide your online store name and book your website with a Domain Registration provider. This is usually very cheap and you will find dozens of service provider through Google. You may also want to book additional site names which sound similar to your website. Most businesses will already own their websites and if you still don’t have it you may find someone else owns the website with your businesses name!!
Getting Your Website in Place
Next you need to decide your strategy to create your website…keep in mind that you website will consist of the following
- A website front which will be visible to the customer
- A content management tool , which will help maintain and update the website (pictures , prices etc)
- A backend database which stores all product data and attributes (prices etc)
- Additionally there will be a whole set of activities to ensure that your website runs efficiently and attracts business. Typically these would be handled by the Marketing department in a physical retail operation
There are three strategies that an Online Retailer can follow:
- Use a standard ecommerce platform to setup a website quickly and start doing business. An ecommerce platform would have standard functionality available for loading content and images, manage prices and market your website.
- Custom develop your website to your requirements , use a third party tool or custom build a content management program for loading content and images and use third part tools , services to market your website.
Use a hybrid approach where the website is setup quickly using an ecommerce platform to be up and running quickly, but develop a custom application over the long term.
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