Setting up an e-commerce store to sell your products online may seem like a daunting task, but it doesn’t need to be. As with most elements of web design, the myriad e-commerce solutions can be set up to handle any volume of orders with as much automation as you need. The trick to successfully creating and maintaining an e-commerce store is knowing exactly what your current needs are and what they will be once the store becomes successful.
At Dynamics Online we’ve set up numerous stores for our clients at multiple levels, and approach each new project by asking the following questions to find the best match for our clients’ needs.
1. How many products will be sold?
This answer may immediately eliminate some options, as high volume custom systems would be overkill for smaller inventories, whereas some template-based systems become more expensive per month as the number of listed products increases.
2. How “hands-on” will you be with your online store?
Many of the template-based e-commerce systems make it easy for the client to manage inventory, prices, descriptions, etc., so you can handle their own updates and product additions/deletions.
3. How important is design?
Although the template-based systems are easy to set up and maintain, they often place restrictions on the look of the site. Most allow for some degree of control over design elements, but it’s important to understand up front that you’ll have to sacrifice “fashion” for the sake of functionality. A benefit to this, though, is that the template restriction can help keep the initial designs costs down.
4. How complex are your shipping needs?
Most online e-commerce services offer automatic shipping integration via UPS, FedEx and/or USPS, but the amount of control and customization varies from site to site. Sites with more complex shipping requirements will often need to use a more expensive e-commerce system that allows for greater customization (or custom programming).
5. Will you offer coupons or specials?
Check the system’s coupon capabilities to see if you can work your promotion plans into their supported systems.
6. How will orders be processed?
Most e-commerce systems are affiliated with various merchant service providers to handle automatic credit card processing. It may be possible to integrate your current credit card processor with the e-commerce system—if not, you’ll need to consider switching to a different processor, tying them together with PayPal, or going with no automatic processing at all. This is fine if your online sales volume will be low, but when that grows, it may be cumbersome to manually process your online orders. Also, orders that are not processed immediately cannot collect the credit card security code because it’s illegal to store that information.
If you’re ready to make the move to selling your products or services online, feel free to call us and we’ll help you develop your e-commerce strategy and find the best match for your current needs and budget – always with an eye towards the future.
Kirk Hiner is the E-Commerce Solutions Manager at Dynamics Online.
You can reach him by calling (216) 292-4410.