Ecommerce

A Guide to Setting Up an E-Commerce Platform

If you are thinking about starting an e-commerce business, you certainly wouldn’t be alone, as many Australians have already quit their regular jobs to enjoy the freedom and potential that being self-employed offers. There are many benefits to being your own boss; you don’t have anyone telling you what to do, plus you work when you feel like it, and perhaps the biggest incentive is that you are creating something that you will benefit from, rather than doing it for another. Of course, the road to success is long and there are many obstacles that you will encounter along the way, but with endless enthusiasm and a large dose of determination, anything is possible when you take the reins of your own enterprise.

The first and most important thing to do is choose a range of products, which must be in high demand and of the very best quality, and once you have selected a range of products, you can start to think about other aspects of the business.

The Product

The very core of your business is the product you are offering and a great deal of thought needs to go into this. Many people stay in the industry they know and offer similar services to their ex-employer – the more you know about the industry, the better your chances of success – and with a genuine love of the industry, your enthusiasm will be contagious. Product knowledge is essential and if you can see a gap in the market – a need for a product that is not yet available – you could design your own line and create a new market. You must go for the top end of quality, as selling cheap products is never going to be a long-term prospect, and this will give you a solid foundation to expend your operation.

Web Design & Hosting Services

There are specialist web design and web hosting providers who can design, build and maintain your e-commerce website. Of course, you will need professional images and written product descriptions, which can be provided by your web developer, and with your colour choices, your selling platform will present your product range in a professional manner. Choose a suitable web domain, and the host provider will check that your chosen URL is not taken and will purchase it on your behalf.

You can always buy your own domain as well at any registrar that sells domains using the exensions you’re interested in. It is best to have a URL that is both catchy and easy to remember, plus you have a choice of .com, .org, or .net.

Most hosting services will also ‘gift’ you an ssl certificate as part of the hosting package. This is neither good nor bad, because you do need one. But at the same time, you could also go out and buy ssl certificate yourself just as easily.

Digital Marketing

With so much competition, you really do need a leading digital marketing agency in your corner, who can provide essential search engine optimisation services that will make your website more visible within search engine results. Your SEO partner can also create social media accounts and with regular posting of quality content, you will gradually build up a large social media following. The key to high sales volume is search engine optimisation – the art of pushing your website up the rankings within an online search – and with a skilled SEO specialist in your corner, your website will be very prominent when the right search terms are used. If you can manage to get on the first page of search results (1-10), then you can expect to see a huge increase in site traffic, which should result in more sales.

Logistics

Obviously, all of your orders must be picked, packed and delivered to customers and if your business is based in Australia, look no further than SPH Transport Services, who are an established logistics provider that can tailor their services to suit the client. Using such a third-party company ensures that all of your orders are professionally fulfilled, and leaves you free to focus on providing an excellent service to your clients. Outsourcing your logistics to a specialist 3PL gives you the flexibility to use their services whenever you choose, and you can suspend the service, if orders are not coming in, and during seasonal surges, they are there and can handle any volume. There’s no lengthy contract to bind you to them, you can cancel the service at any time, not that you would want to, and a phone call is all it takes to have the 3PL company spring into action. You deliver your products and packaging to them and send your orders via the Internet and the 3PL provider will pick, pack and deliver your orders to any location.

Sourcing Product Wholesalers

It is essential that you forge an alliance with an established product wholesaler, one that can supply high volumes and has the necessary resources to ensure a continuing service. This is not something to rush into, indeed, it would be a good idea to visit their factory to see the manufacturing process first-hand, and by preparing a list of questions, you will be in a position to make an informed decision.

Accounting & Taxation

If you make contact with a chartered accountant prior to trading, the expert can set up a sound bookkeeping routine that will make things easier, plus the accountant can recommend the best way to formulate the business (sole trader, partnership, limited company) to minimise your taxation liabilities. It is essential that you keep accurate records of all transactions and the accountant can help you to set up a daily bookkeeping routine that keeps you up to date.

Payment Gateways

It is important to offer your customers a diverse range of payment methods, which can include:

  • All major credit cards
  • PayPal
  • Direct bank transfer
  • Bitcoin

We are rapidly moving towards a cashless society and by accepting Bitcoin, you are attracting consumers that are already using digital currencies.

The potential is huge for any entrepreneur that enters the e-commerce sector, but you must do your research and outsource to third parties in order to be successful.

If you plan your business carefully and join forces with a leading digital marketing agency, there’s no reason why your business won’t be a success.

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