Should you consider setting up your own ecommerce ...
Should you consider setting up your own ecommerce website?
In the past, if you wanted to sell something, car boot sales, markets and message boards in shops were your only option. This has all changed though with the increasing reliance on a digital and mobile which has seen the likes of eBay change the buying and selling landscape. This is great if you are looking to have a clear out but what about sole traders looking to build more of a livelihood? The ecommerce site has enabled them to target a wider market at the click of a button. So, is this something you could do yourself? Plusnet takes a look…
Growth in Self-Employment as a Second Job
Statistics in a report by the Resolution Foundation show that 320,000 people now combine a job with a second self-employed role. Websites like Etsy and Not on The High Street – platforms that allow you to sell items online without the need for a website - have flourished. Etsy claim they now have 1 million active shops; a 25% increase on a BBC report from 2011 in just three years. Kate Sproston recently made the switch from employed to self-employed. She ran her embroidered-textiles business, Kate Sproston Design, on evenings and weekends before taking the plunge to go full-time fourteen months ago.
“Before that I was a pattern cutter in a lingerie company. I worked four days a week at my day job, and ran my business in the evenings and weekends,” she explains.So why do people take this plunge?“There are a lot of people who would like to escape from the 9-5 whether times are good or bad. Running a successful online business can give people the freedom to run their lives the way that they have always dreamed of,” says Simon Leigh, Managing Director of shopping cart solution company RomanCart Ltd
Getting Started Online
You don’t have to be a computer whizz to set up your own site, as there are many platforms out there that enable you to build your site and host it all in one go. Kate explains that she struggled at first:
“As I am not very savvy when it comes to technology, I started by purchasing a computer program to help me create a simple website. This was adequate at first to give me at least some internet presence, but there were a lot of restrictions.“For example, my site was not mobile or tablet friendly, meaning potential customers struggled to view it on these devices and did not stay on the site long enough to look at my products.“Having your own website adds credibility to your company, and gives people confidence to buy from you. I feel that if you are looking to grow your business and establish your presence within your chosen market, a personal website is a must. It is a virtual shop front showcasing only your items, and a customer’s direct link to you.”
So what do you need to consider about your website?
If you’re considering starting your own website but aren’t sure where to start, there are a few things to consider: Domain Name The first task of creating a website is to register the address you want people to visit. Domain names can be anything you want, although the best are usually:
A brand name (i.e FurnishYourself)
Your name and the industry (i.e. Johnsmithfurniture)
What it is you do (i.e fantasticfurniture)
Check to see if your domain name is available on any domain selling website. Look for websites where you can amend the domain nameserver (DNS) settings easily, as this could be important when looking to build your website. Template Design Many ecommerce websites offer pre-created shop front template designs for you to choose from for your website. Remember that people also look towards the left and in ‘f patterns’ first, as this article shows, so take this into consideration when visualising your website and its structure. Mobile phones and tablets are becoming more widely-used and so look for companies that offer mobile commerce too. The customer is most important so think of their journey and how easy it is to go through from viewing to buying. People like convenience so the quicker their journey is, the better chance you have of converting their interest into sales.
“Every click that a customer has to make will result in a percentage of website visitors leaving. Customers need to be able to purchase your items with the minimum of clicks,” explains Simon.
The use of photography on a website is important to show off products and make them appeal to customers. A survey conducted by Eposure showed that 91% of people said that images were important to them when shopping online and 84% had decided not to purchase something online due to poor photography. Shopify have put together an excellent guide on product photography for anyone looking to start selling online.
Using Social Media with your Website
Social media can also help in terms of brand promotion. Not only does it help people to find you and talk to you, but it also offers you a platform to share information, check out the latest trends and market yourself.
“We mainly use social media for marketing, with each channel offering different strengths and opening up new audiences,” explains Kate.
Simon adds: “Social media is a great way of generating a buzz about your products. It makes it really easy for people to spread the word about what you are offering and how great your products are.”
Is having your own website better than using websites like Etsy?
“Well-marketed third party platforms are a great way to reach large volumes of potential customers who would be very expensive to target through other means,” explains Simon.“However it’s also a good idea to encourage them to visit your website to see what else you have on offer. This increases the chance of long term customer relationships and eliminates the competition”
Is this all there is to it?
Kate offers some final advice for anyone considering stepping into online selling:
“Be involved as much as possible to create a deeper understanding of how and why it works, and if it attracts the right potential customers. Read books on improving your site and using social media.“Keep testing your site on as many people as you can. The least computer literate are the most useful for spotting problems and pitfalls!”
Ecommerce is growing, so why not put your brand online and see if you can increase your income from your creative spark! Do you own your own website? What are your experiences of selling items online? Let us know below