Everyone seems to be selling online these days.
Before the pandemic hit, it was already moving that way. And the recent events have only sped that up even further.
So you’re probably looking at creating an online store for your business to sell your products online in a physically distant world and to reach customers outside of your local area.
And that’s great! Overall, I think that’s a really good idea to help grow your business. But it’s not without its challenges — some that you can see right now and some that you can’t.
So this month, we’re going to be talking all about ecommerce and setting up an online store for your business. We’ll discuss what that entails, potential pitfalls and how you can keep it from destroying your budget. And then at the end we’ll try to build a small online store using WordPress.
And by the end of the series, you’ll have the knowledge to determine whether an online store is something you can and should do for your business.
So, let’s get started.
Definition of ecommerce
So first off, we obviously need to know what ecommerce is before we start working with it. According to Ecommerce Guide, ecommerce “refers to transactions conducted via the internet.” That is, every time someone buys something from an online website, whether it’s eBay, a store like Walmart or the local small business down the street, they are engaging in ecommerce. According to Ecommerce Guide, this can also include auctions and even banking transactions.
And I’m willing to bet that some point in the last week you’ve engaged in ecommerce, whether it was ordering food online or just purchasing a product. At this point, we engage in ecommerce without even thinking about it.
Ecommerce history and stats
But it was only about 26 years ago when ecommerce got its start. Ecommerce first got its start in 1994 when Phil Brandenberger used his credit card to buy a CD online line, according to the New York Times.
Since then, Ecommerce has only risen. It’s led us to the rise of the Dot Com bubble in the late 90s and early 2000s. And despite the bubble collapse, it has grown only stronger with more mobile and tablet devices and a world that’s more increasingly online.
According to Shopify, online sales could total $4.5 trillion in 2021. And that number is only expected to rise in the coming years as ecommerce grows. And 99firms states that by 2040, 95% of all purchases are expected to be online. Plus, over half of small businesses don’t even have a website.
So there are a lot of reasons to be excited about ecommerce and to want to use it for your business. There really is the potential for you to reach a lot more customers if you create an online store now. Hence why you are hopefully watching this series.
What ecommerce entails
Now there is a lot that goes into ecommerce. I’ll start to go more in depth in this on Friday, but for now I want to hit a few of the key points.
First, you’re going to need a website and a web host for your website. Duh. Then you’ll need to figure out if you’re going to use something like Shopify to build the website or use a content management system like WordPress and Woocommerce.
Then you need to figure out a way to take payments via a payment gateway like Stripe or Paypal.
Next, you’ll need to make sure you have a process for taking the orders from online and fulfilling them and shipping them out to customers. Plus, you’ll need some way to connect your online inventory to your actual physical inventory.
And finally there are taxes that are going to have to be run, and they might involve taxes in other states.
In short, running an ecommerce website is no small task.
The allure of ecommerce
So it’s pretty easy to see why ecommerce and creating an online store is so enticing to a lot of businesses.
By opening up an online store, you now can reach the entire world if you want. You can probably sell a product to someone halfway around the globe, and they never step foot inside of your store.
And more and more people are using the internet to shop as well, so meeting them online in their moment of decision is pretty crucial for tapping into those wonderful ecommerce statistics.
Plus, in this world of pandemic, you can keep you and your customers safe because they can order the product and you can send it to them without either of you meeting face to face and limiting potential contact. And I would wager that even when this subsides, that online ordering is going to stay for a lot of industries. It just makes life easier for so many people.
So there seems to be just a lot of good upsides for creating an online store for your business.
Warnings about ecommerce
But at the same time, ecommerce is a challenge. This really isn’t just something that you can set up in a few hours and you’re good to go.
There are the obvious technical challenges to solve. How are you going to build the online store and how are you going to take payments?
And then there are the offline issues to figure out. What do you know about sales tax? Do you need to worry about it? Do you need to pay sales tax for your state and the state of your customer? I am no accountant or lawyer, and you really should check with those before you start. And things are going to get pretty complicated.
Plus, you need to make sure you have the support and process to take those orders and send them to your customers in a timely manner. Is there a dedicated person handling that, or is it just you? And what shipping company are you going to use? Which one is the cheapest for you?
This isn’t meant to scare you away from ecommerce, but really just to give you something to think about before you go too far into the process. We’ll talk more about this as the series goes on, but taking the time now to think about things will help you later on.
So today’s question is what do you know and what do you want to know about ecommerce? Are you looking to start your online store? Be sure to leave your answers down in the comments section below.
Next time we’ll take a look at StudioPress’ selection of ecommerce-ready themes that they sell and can help you create an online store quicker and cheaper than a custom store. And on Friday, we’ll take a look at what you really need to know before you start an ecommerce store.
So be sure to hit subscribe and to hit the bell for notifications so that you can be alerted for those new videos. And until next time, I wish you and your business the best of luck.