The Nuts and Bolts of Online Retail
Black Friday has come and gone, and as expected, the kickoff to this year’s holiday rush was marked by a surge in e-commerce, as the COVID-19 pandemic has led many consumers to seek out safe, convenient alternatives to the traditional shopping experience.
While big-box retailers have long had a robust digital presence to match their mammoth brick-and-mortar footprint, many smaller businesses face challenges in adapting to a faster-than-expected shift towards online retail. The good news is, today, it’s easier than ever to get into e-commerce – but if you’re just getting started, it pays to know a bit about the “nuts and bolts” of a successful online storefront.
So, let’s go over a few essentials…
Choosing an E-commerce Platform
Let’s start with the first big question you might have – which e-commerce platform is best? With a wealth of options to pick from, there’s no simple answer; ultimately, your choice will depend on the specific needs of your business.
If you’re looking for a basic e-commerce shop and you’re comfortable with a DIY approach, all-in-one platforms like Squarespace and Shopify offer simple, user-friendly tools to get you up and running in a hurry. For more complex builds, a custom-built and professionally maintained WordPress site paired with an e-commerce plugin like WooCommerce is the way to go, giving you greater functionality and ample room for growth.
Processing Customer Payments
While your website provides the mechanism for customers to browse your offerings and place orders, it doesn’t actually facilitate payment – for that, you need a payment processor. Coordinating between your website, your bank, and your customer’s payment method, the payment processor transmits the data needed to verify and complete a transaction in mere seconds.
When choosing a payment processor, you’ll want to be extra sure that it integrates smoothly with your website’s shopping cart. There are a few other things you should keep in mind too – for instance, what’s their fee structure? Their fraud protection policy? How about their track record with regards to customer service and tech support?
Finding the Right Shipping Partner
Consumer surveys consistently show that a positive shipping experience is key to customer satisfaction – but unlike so many other facets of e-commerce where you’re in control throughout the process, with shipping, you’re leaving things largely in the hands of a third party. So, it’s essential to do your homework when choosing a carrier.
When evaluating shipping services, pricing is of course a big factor, but you should also be mindful of delivery speed, and whether the carrier provides tracking for packages. And make sure that the carrier you’re considering is a good match for your product – some have size or weight limits, or restrictions on certain kinds of items, like valuables or perishable goods.
The bottom line? Branching out into e-commerce is a terrific way to keep your small business competitive in these changing times – but before you jump in, you’ve got to have a handle on the nuts and bolts. A new year is right around the corner. So, if you’re ready to turn the page on 2020 and modernize your business’ digital footprint, Rosie’s Creative is standing by to help. With us, your first consultation is always free!