So you’ve decided to take the plunge and start selling online. Congratulations! That initial decision is a huge one for a lot of people so well done on making it. You’ve taken the first step on the road to expanding your business, increasing your profit margins and opening up a wealth of selling and promotion opportunities for you and your business. Sure, it can be scary and intimidating, especially if you’re not too comfortable with technology or the Internet etc. but if you keep calm and follow some simple steps, you’ll be up and running, selling a wealth of products online in no time. That’s why you’re here isn’t it!?
Your product images are hugely important. I can’t stress this enough. Please, please, please, before you make the decision to sell online, make sure that you have the images of the products you are going to sell, have complete access to use them or have a photographer lined up to take some. So many times a client will struggle with this initial important task. We don’t have access to them. We can’t magically make them appear. We don’t have copyrights etc. to just pull some from the internet. This must be your job. If you are selling products in any capacity, you will have some relationship with a supplier so ask them about it. If not, hire a photographer.
You’ve heard the saying “A picture paints…blah, blah” a thousand times before. It doesn’t make it any less relevant though, especially in an online capacity. Your customer will look at the product image almost instantaneously. They will zoom into it and examine it. They will very likely read the information on the product packaging or box if there is any, before reading the actual text description of the product that you have also added (usually placed to the right of or below the image)! As consumers we are drawn to shiny colourful things, like moths to a flame. So it’s your job to make sure that there is a shiny colourful thing there to look at and that it is indeed sufficiently colourful and/or shiny.
What are you going to charge for shipping? Do you have a free shipping threshold? Will you ship based on size or weight? Will you ship internationally? All very important questions and although not nearly as important as the product images at the start, it is still very much a question to be addressed. You of course have to charge what is right for you and what you are selling. A lot of businesses are adopting the flat rate + free shipping method for nationwide shipping nowadays, i.e. a flat rate of between 5 and 10 euro for orders below 50 and free shipping for orders of 50 euro or more. It’s a good compromise and covers you as the seller in the vast majority of cases.
Domain and Hosting
What are you going to call your online shop? Whenever I have to explain this aspect of e-commerce or indeed just web design to a potential client, I always use the analogy of a house or property. The domain is the name of your house or number, and the hosting is kind of like rent, although in this case, you pay for the space that the property occupies. You own the property and the name of the property, but you must pay for the space that it occupies. It’s not the neatest of analogies, but it gives some context and makes things a little clearer for someone who isn’t familiar with any of this. You can use a domain checker tool to check and see if a name/domain is available to buy. You’ll also want to choose what domain extension you want, .com,.ie, .co.uk, depending on where you are based or where you intend to sell to, usually .com is a safe bet and used for international selling. If you’re only going to sell in Ireland though for example then .ie, is perfectly fine.
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