In our web design and development business, we constantly meet people who are always excited about taking their business online via an e-commerce website where their customers can buy from them easily.
While we are keen to help everyone, sometimes we have to be blunt and honest and remind them that e-commerce is not for everyone.
You’re probably wondering why. After all, isn’t this a good opportunity for us to provide them the very services they need i.e. help them set up their e-commerce website?
Of course it’s great for us. There’s nothing more gratifying than an eager customer, ready to plunge into the world wide web.
But we’re also cautious because behind the eagerness, some customers don’t realise that running an e-commerce website is not so much about going online but about the simple basics of business.
How so, you ask?
Order fulfillment, for instance.
What is your order fulfillment process like? Can you handle it when overseas customers ask about distributorships and want your products by the container-load? (yes, container-load!) Can you fulfill their orders? How soon can you do so?
This boils down to how efficient your order fulfillment processes are and if you have never discovered whether your processes are any good, this is the time you will find out.
You will see how effective your production line is. (And in some cases, how glaringly inefficient your production line is!)
Many a local e-commerce website owner have been overwhelmed when email inquiries come in fast and furious and they cannot cope with orders! They simply did not prepare for an onslaught of business.
Next, going online also means cultivating the right attitude towards email responsiveness. Of course, you can hire someone to answer your email inquiries but in many cases, you will be the main person who reads and replies emails which come in. But how soon can you reply them? Within the day? Within 2 days? Within the week? In 2 weeks?
It is not wrong that many people expect business to be done at the speed of light. It is, after all, the Internet age. So nurturing the right email responsiveness helps too. Don’t let inquiries languish in your inbox, or worse, forget to check your email on a daily basis. (If you have a tendency to forget emails, you might want to try out the Boomerang app which reminds you if you’ve forgotten an urgent email.)
Also, it is wise to focus on a segment of buyers situated in a specific region instead of trying to conquer the world. Having an e-commerce website allows you to sell to the world but unless you are selling downloadable products such as ebooks or software or scripts, transporting your products across the world can be a headache and no minor one at that! Figure out your postage and courier costs BEFORE you launch that e-commerce website.
That’s why we often advise clients to sell local or regional first before they start attempting to sell to other continents. But it works in the US, some people say. Yes, it works in the US because their postal rates are reasonable and postal or courier services are quick, affordable and safe.
Another point to note, these e-commerce retailers sell within the US, and sometimes to the UK/Europe but mainly, it is their own fellow citizens they sell to!
But over here, postal rates (and courier rates) can be expensive. Think of these factors when you decide to launch your e-commerce website. You definitely don’t want your postal/courier rates to be higher than the price of your product! (Unless your product is unique and cannot be found elsewhere, and you have buyers willing to pay.)
So are we discouraging you? Not at all.
If you want to start an e-commerce website, by all means do so but consider important factors such as order fulfillment, email responsiveness, and transportation rates.
The best retailers online aren’t just those who have a variety of products to sell but those whose emphasis is on efficient and effective order fulfillment, email responsiveness and of course, using a safe, affordable and fast method of shipping products out to their customers.
If you’d like a quick way to start your own online store, use Redbox Easyweb Pro. Our affordable all-in-one system at RM999 per year lets you start selling online easily with our one-click e-commerce feature. You can even integrate a third party e-commerce shopping cart such as ecwid into Redbox Easyweb Pro.