ADVICE: 5 things to consider before starting an eCommerce store

In the wake of news that click-and-collect is set to take the British High Street by storm this Christmas, if you’re thinking about starting an eCommerce shop, here are 5 Top Tips for starting a successful online offering.

1) Images and descriptions

Shopping for jewellery is a tactile experience, which is obviously missing when buying online. To compensate you’ll need to inspire the shopper with several product images conveying the beauty of the piece and providing a sense of perspective on its size. Accompany this with detailed product descriptions incorporating all the facts, such as dimensions, weight and materials. Any doubt in the consumer’s mind and you’ll lose the sale.

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Showcasing your products with high quality photography is essential, and with reflective surfaces this is harder to achieve. Either hire an experienced product photographer, or do it yourself by investing in good equipment and training so the pictures look professional. Use a light tent and a DSLR camera on a tripod to take your product shots. Take your time to try out different camera settings and light levels to achieve the best look.

2) Online payments

Speak with several payment processors to find the best supplier for your needs. Don’t expect the same transaction fee rates for taking card payments online as you’re used to getting in-store as there is more risk associated with an online sale so there’s a higher transaction fee. In fact, it can be more cost effective to use a separate payment processor for online sales so that it doesn’t affect your lower, in-store card processing rates.

Look beyond just the transaction fees and find out more about how the online fraud checking systems work and how the processor deals with charge-backs.

3) Shipping

Trial run your intended order fulfilment supplier to establish a benchmark for how much time it takes to process an order. You’ll then know if it’s a workable solution should order volumes increase.

Different couriers have different policies on the types of items you can send and the levels of insurance available, so be careful and read the small print of the T&Cs.

4) Promotions

Choose an ecommerce system capable of mirroring your in-store promotions online, such as offering price reductions on multiple purchases and discount vouchers.

5) Online marketing

Establish an online marketing plan from day one if you want to ensure traffic and web orders. Set aside a marketing budget to promote your website and bring visitors to your e-shop. Include website analytics, e.g. Google Analytics, for monitoring traffic to determine the effectiveness of your marketing.

Simon Horton is the founder of ShopIntegrator, a hosted eCommerce plugin that makes it easy for anybody to add an online store onto their existing website without any coding skills.

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