If you have a brick and mortar store, why not make some, or perhaps all, of your products available for purchase online. It’s a great way to increase your sales revenue and with today’s technology it’s easier than ever to add a shopping cart component to an existing website. Besides, buying products online has become a routine behavior in our culture. Everybody’s doing it. From pizza to high priced automobiles, just about anything can be purchased online today. But before you make the leap, here are 5 things (there are probably more than 5 but you’ll be fine if you start with these) you need to think about and resolve before going forward.
1. Order Fulfillment
If you’re running a brick and mortar store already, are you prepared for the extra work that selling products online will create? What will you do if you suddenly get an online order for 100 products? Do you have the staff to handle the extra workload? Will you be sourcing the product directly from your in-store inventory or will you stock product elsewhere? Here’s some advice. Your answer should not be “We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.” It will be too late then. Have a plan in place before you hang the “Open for Business” sign on your website.
UPS, Fedex, USPS, DHL, Same Day, Next Day, Two Day, Priority … whoa, that’s a lot of choices. And setting it all up on your website can be a nightmare. Fortunately, most of the major shipping companies provide modules that can be installed and configured on your eCommerce website. You’ll have to make some decisions though. Do you want to charge by weight? volume? total order price, etc. What if your customer only buys one of something. You certainly don’t want the cost of shipping to exceed the cost of the purchased item. I recommend offering free shipping for total purchases above a certain dollar amount. It may cost you a few dollars but you will win in the long run if you’re willing to do something for your customers.
Uggghh! I know. Not fun. But you absolutely, positively must deal with it on your eCommerce website. Again, the good news is that many eCommerce plugins, like Woo Commerce for WordPress make it easy. You’ll still have to do some advance planning though. Will you be selling and shipping to other states? Then you’ll need to know the tax rates for the states you’re selling in. Do you know what items in your store are taxable and which aren’t? You’ll need to know that too. Once you’ve entered the necessary information the tax will be calculated automatically based on your customer’s address and the tax status of the items purchased and it will be displayed on the shopping cart page.
4. Minimum Quantities
If you’re selling health and beauty aids online, do you really want to allow the purchase of one toe nail clipper at a cost of $1.79 with a shipping cost of $5.00? Doesn’t make sense does it? I suggest that you set up minimum order quantities or minimum dollar amount purchases. That way you’ll avoid the overhead associated with shipping one low cost item. Don’t worry. Most online shoppers will understand that you are not going to ship orders under a certain price.
5. Product Photography
This is a pet peeve of mine. I get it that we’re in the age of selfies and everyone believing they are photographers. But if you’re seriously trying to make money by selling products on line, you must understand this. Bad product photos scream amateur! In a brick and mortar store a shopper can pick up a pair of shoes and feel its quality. Online that’s not possible. That’s why you need to present the shopper with high quality photographs.
“But I can’t afford to hire a professional photographer,” you say.
“You can’t afford not to,” I say.
A picture is worth a thousand words, right? Compare the photo of a pair of women’s boots on the left with the photo on the right.
The photo on the left was taken from a website I won’t name. The one on the right is from the Zappos website. Zappos knows a little something about online retail and how important product photography is. If you can’t hire a professional photographer, or if you don’t have access to high quality images, wait until you do before launching your site.
Now Back to You
Are you selling products online? How are you doing? Did you think about the 5 steps outlined above before you launched your site? What are the things you think are important to a successful online store?