What You Need to Know About Ecommerce

Creating an online store is no small task. There is a lot that goes into it. From what you use to create the website, to web hosting, to sales tax to how you turn the online order into shipped product, there’s a lot you need to know before you start. This isn’t something you just…

Hey there and welcome back!

So if you’re watching this series, you’re probably wanting to create an online store for your business. And that’s great. As we talked about on Monday, more and more people are doing their shopping online. And meeting people where they’re searching for products that you might offer is a great way to grow your business.

But at the same time, ecommerce is a pretty big topic. And to do it correctly means that you first must plan it out. And to plan it out, you first need to know more about ecommerce.

So today let’s walk through some of the things that you really need to know before you create an online store for your business.

And if you want to follow along with us as we go through this ecommerce adventure, be sure to hit the subscribe button and to hit the bell for notifications.

Now let’s get started.

Creating an ecommerce website is no small task

First off, creating an ecommerce website is no small task. This isn’t something that you just do over a weekend and have running Monday.

No, this is something that needs to take time. You need to sit down and think about what you’re doing and to plan it out. It’s very easy to rush into something like this head first and then you get into it and then realize that, oh no, you made a mistake but really it’s something that could have been figured out had you taken the time beforehand.

And there is a lot that goes into it, from web hosting to how you’re going to create the website to payment processors. Oh and by the way, how are you going to process those orders once they come in, how you’re going to ship them to your customers, and uh yes, I think there are taxes that need to be taken care of.

So if you think that you’re going to create an online store over this weekend, stop and slow down. This is going to be a lot bigger than you might realize.

Finding the correct web host

The first thing that you need to do is figure out your web hosting situation. This something that could make or break your online store. Pick the right one and you’ll never have to worry about whether your site is running or not. But pick the wrong one and it all becomes a nightmare very quickly.

So this means you’ll have to avoid that cheap $5 a month web host plans. You really need to pick a host that’s dependable and has a good reputation. If they offer automated backups, that’s a good start. And make sure that they take security concerns very seriously. As always do your research and read the reviews. There’s a lot you can learn from other people’s perspectives.

So take the time now to figure out what web host you’re going to use for your ecommerce store.

Deciding on a platform

Next up, you’re going to need to figure out what platform you’re going to use. Will you be going with Shopify? Or will you pick an open source content management system like WordPress, Drupal or Joomla? Or are you going to go with something completely custom?

Shopify might be the easiest option since it’s more or less an advanced version of Wix and Squarespace, and might be the best for a beginner that doesn’t want to get too deep into the code. Though you are restricted by what you can do.

Using WordPress or something similar allows you a little bit more freedom as you can choose what plugins and theme you want to use on your website. Plus, you can customize it a little bit easier, but you will have to pay for web hosting.

And then of course there’s the completely custom web design option which will give you exactly what you want, but it will cost you a pretty good chunk of change.

Using a custom design or prebuilt template

And then once you’ve figured out the platform, it’s time to decide whether you’re going use a prebuilt template, like a theme or whatever with WordPress, or go with something completely custom.

The easiest solution would be to use a prebuilt template and then change it to match your business and branding through colors, fonts and logos. I know with WordPress, there are a ton of ecommerce-ready themes that you can purchase and install on your website in just minutes. And they look incredibly professional as well.

Your other main option is to go down the custom design route. You’ll get a website that looks unique to your business and that has the look and feel that you want. But at the same time it’s going to cost you a lot more than the other options.

Now is a good time to look at your budget and figure out what you can afford and what’s best for your business.

Figuring out shipping

And now we shift to offline topics. And one of the biggest is shipping. If you’re selling physical products, you need to figure out how you’re getting those products to your customers.

So what carrier are you going to be using? Will it be UPS, Fedex, DHL, the Postal Service or something else? Which one is going to be the cheapest and the most reliable for you? Do they have special rates for small businesses?

Also, you’ll need to figure out the processes for getting shipping labels and getting it to that carrier for delivery. Eventually you’ll have all of this down pat once you get going. But for now, take the time to research and then add it to your plan. Better to stress about it now than when you’re trying to get something to a customer.

Learning about sales tax

Ah yes, everyone’s favorite subject: taxes. Let me be very clear right from the start, I am not a lawyer and I am not an accountant, so I don’t really have any expertise in this area, and nothing I say is legal or any of that. I know, that shocks just about everyone.

But this can be murky waters if you don’t know what you’re doing. If you already have a business and you’re just kind of moving it online, you probably have a good idea on your state’s sales tax laws. But once you start selling out of state, things can become a little bit murkier. You might need to pay those states’ sales taxes as well, or you might not.

If you know of somebody who deals with this area, whether as an accountant or a lawyer, talk to them about it first. Then figure out what you need to do to deal with those taxes and then add it to the plan.

As you know, making mistakes with money can be a pretty big issue, so let’s take the time to think about it and figure it all out first.

You need to have an offline process

Finally, you need to need to have an offline structure that takes the orders from the website, fulfills them and ships them out to the customer.

Who is going to be the point person for that? Is it going to be you or an employee? What is the process going to look like? How are you going to make sure it all runs smoothly? And maybe more importantly, who does what when something goes wrong?

Things here can go wrong really quickly if you’re not prepared for it. If you suddenly see a spike in sales, which might seem like a good thing, you’re going to run into problems if you’re just flying by the seat of your own pants. And that doesn’t do your business any good.

So create that plan and come up with contingencies so you’re prepared if that situation happens.

Up Next

So today’s question is, well, what questions do you have about ecommerce? Is there something you’re concerned about or confused about? Leave them down in the comments section below.

Next time, we’ll discuss your different options when it comes to ecommerce websites. To make sure you see that video and all of the other videos I have coming out about ecommerce, be sure to hit the subscribe button and to ring the bell for notifications.

But until then, I wish you and your business the best of luck.

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