28 Sep Online shops – what are your options?
Lockdowns, social distancing and more time at home has meant people have become more experienced shopping online. If you want to create an online version of your bricks and mortar shop, what are your options and what do you need to think about?
There are plenty of free or inexpensive marketplaces that allow you to test selling online and might even do the job before you invest time and money into developing a full e-commerce website. Check out Chooice, Etsy, Felt and TradeMe and see if any of these platforms suit your brand and the volume of products you anticipate selling. Most work on a commission basis, so make sure that works for you too.
The obvious pros of using a marketplace are the low costs to set up, the low risk and the established audience. The biggest con is you may be (virtually) sitting next to your competitor and if down the line you decide an e-commerce site is for you, you are starting from scratch. It is also hard to build your own brand on a marketplace as the style of the site, processes, etc are standardised.
SMEs may find using existing online store platforms such as Shopify and Storbie give them the functionality they are after at an affordable cost. These online store and marketplace builder platforms allow businesses to easily create and manage their own e-commerce website and are generally fast to set up and affordable. On the flip side, you are locked into the platform, it can be hard to scale up the site and move to another provider as you grow.
Custom e-commerce sites
The gold standard of e-commerce sites is a custom site where you are able to establish and maintain full control over the way your shop looks and functions. You can also fully integrate with your stock control systems, warehousing and add any extra features that are unique to your business. You have direct access to your customers and can target and market to them as you like. You can grow your site as fast or as big as you like. You also don’t pay any commissions.
Customisation comes at a cost though and also requires a lot of your time upfront to get it right. Then there are the ongoing updates and support that are all your responsibility. There are also additional costs to market the site so your customers know where to find you.
Action the merchant trading and banking requirements straight away – these take time and can be the step that holds you back from launching your shop.
Be aware that Facebook shops in New Zealand are only shop fronts and the actual purchasing takes place on your website, so don’t think these are a shortcut to setting up an online shop.
Put some thought into how to work out your shipping costs – the common ways are flat fee, by weight or by destination.
Don’t forget to get your legal obligations and protection in place – terms and conditions and shipping and return policies are the minimum.
Go shopping and try out some different platforms as a customer, think about the volume of online sales you anticipate and give us a call to talk through the options. Our team is very experienced and happy to share their thoughts and advice. The platform you use is a key so it is important to look into options and seek the right advice.