Businesses of all kinds can benefit from ecommerce. Besides physical products, ecommerce works for selling digital products, consultations, appointments, courses and paid memberships. The essence of ecommerce is simple: visitors use the web to research and find what they need, then follow through with the purchase. Let’s look at some the challenges of moving your business into the online world.
Hosted or Self Hosted Ecommerce
When you decide to move into ecommerce, your first decision will be: should I incorporate my store into my existing web site – with a plug-in like WooCommerce or iThemes Exchange, or go with a hosted e store like Shopify or Bigcommerce?
Advantages of a Hosted Solution
If you favor convenience over control, a hosted site is best. A hosted shopping site like Shopify can be as easy to set up as a Facebook page, and like Facebook, most of the design and interface decisions will be made for you. As a result, your shop will be up and operating quickly, and any problems or questions will be handled by the host. This can be great if your priority is speed and ease of setup.
Advantages of Self-hosting
If you’re comfortable with the nuts and bolts of your website, and want to deliver a shopping experience that has the unique look and feel of your brand, ecommerce software is what you want. By adding the software directly to your site, or choosing a web theme that includes ecommerce, you’ll be able to shape every bit of your visitor’s online shopping experience. This will incorporate your blog, catalog, contact information and web articles into a total selling environment that you control.
Who’s Minding the Store?
Hosted or self-hosted, your online store will definitely require additional time and management to operate smoothly. Think of it as opening another storefront outlet for your business. Your online customers will need support. Product fulfillment, whether through physical shipping or digital download, will be your responsibility, and payment and delivery problems will occur and will have to be handled. Like any other store, your success will be judged by your customer service.
It’s rare now to meet anyone who doesn’t make online purchases. Currently, 80% of the web population regularly buys something on the web, so be sure you’re prepared to follow through when you decide to put your business online.