E-stores are among the most successful business ventures. This is because we’re living in the era of digital expansion, where almost everything can be done over the web. According to the newest data, e-commerce is a growing field in the B2C sector, where the value of transactions in 2016 alone exceeded the amount of $ 1.6 trillion. Online sales from retailers are also growing rapidly. The ease of its establishment makes it a business recommended to a wide group of people. However, not everyone is aware of how much an online store really costs. What’s more, the expenses incurred will depend on what solutions you choose at the very beginning.
The costs could vary from thousands of dollars and even reach up to 5 million, depending on the platform and requirements. Depending on how simple or complex the platform would be, the costs can differ significantly for similar functionalities. Here are some basic types of platforms to start with:
- solutions specifically for the e-commerce industry (e.g. Magento).
- extensions for CMS systems (eg WooCommerce for WordPress).
- software as a “SaaS” service (eg Shopify).
If you don’t want outside help and are interested in lower costs, some SaaS platforms start at around $100/month. They are good enough to a certain point, but after some time there will probably be a need to scale the store or implement special functions. In this case, the SaaS model has limited capabilities that may not be good enough.
Although ready solutions are to some extent an advantage, they can become a problem later – it is difficult to stand out among other stores when you use ready-made modules that are also available to others. Fortunately, there are more flexible solutions that do not have to be associated with high costs. For example, Drupal and Magento are free open-source platforms that give a lot of freedom in operation. However, using them requires advanced technical skills or a team of programmers but if you want a more personalized solution, these platforms are more than recommended.
How will your e-commerce store look like? This is very important because low quality can scare customers away. If your business is a large brand, then the quality of your site should reflect it. Another important element is the adaptation of the site’s appearance to mobile devices, which now play a huge role in online sales. The cheap solution is to buy a ready template. This means that the design is already done, and you can just add a logo to it and customize the colours. It may not the best idea for larger e-commerce projects, but it may work if you’re a bit stingy in budget.
Hosting & domain
Choosing the right hosting is very important because its quality will largely determine the store’s security and performance. As for Internet domains, most suppliers allow you to buy them quite cheap for the first year. When you want to buy an existing domain with a good history and a name that matches the industry, prices at auctions can reach up to several thousand dollars or even more.
Even the best and nicest stores won’t bring much profit if nobody can find them. There are many ways to bring traffic to a website, including social media, SEO, and email marketing. It should include product descriptions, content for individual subpages and articles for a possible store blog.
Not that long ago, you could sell almost anything and mak an insane amount of money. Competition was minor, technology wasn’t as affordable as it is now and access to products was very limited as well. Nowadays, the situation has changed quite drastically. The high-league players like Amazon or eBay are the biggest competitors for pretty much everyone.
Taking that into consideration, the most important challenge would be to choose the right product to sell. It has to be unique to break through walls and get noticed by potential customers. Another thing is to choose and attract the right target group. The customer can get easily distracted by social media and you should build a relation with them so they choose to shop with you again.
Remember to avoid:
- Bad e-commerce solutions, not well integrated payment providers
- Too many processes, systems to manage – it may hurt growth and reduce productivity
- Very high system costs and difficulties in usage
- Limited visibility over the web (socials, poor marketing)
Finally, remember that nobody likes to fill out paperwork – there is no doubt about that. We usually watch products on a mobile, because ads are usually chased there. In turn, transferring the purchase decision itself via a laptop reduces the chance of conversion. The easier the payment process for the order, the greater the chance that the user will finalize it. It’s proven that the likelihood of abandoning the basket increases when the store does not provide different payment options.
Not a big deal?
Running an e-commerce site requires a lot of work from its owner to improve its efficiency. Above are just some of the e-commerce challenges that you should have before your eyes if you want to scale your online business. All of them emphasize new technologies and service processes. What connects them is that they focus on the client and his increasingly excessive needs. It is also worth remembering that while planning your own strategy – put emphasise on regular tracking of competition and the market possibilities.