eCommerce on a budget
Since lockdown started, we’ve had a lot of enquiries for eCommerce websites, especially from independent retailers looking for ways to reach new and existing customers during these testing times.
Unfortunately, we took the decision last year to step back from offering budget-level online sales to focus on our core service offerings. To do eCommerce properly involves a level of planning and ongoing support that – for most cases right now – are cost and time prohibitive.
Given the growth in demand for online sales since the pandemic hit, though, we thought we’d share our tips on how we’d do this ourselves.
A word of caution
Super low-cost, off-the-peg template based eCommerce website-in-a-box options are available in abundance, but we would urge that they be approached with the same reservation and caution one might take with cheap toilet paper. It may be tempting, but there’s always an unshakeable foreboding feeling that at some point you’re going to end up with something wholly unpleasant on your hands.
Yes, you can buy an eCommerce website for a few dollars, (or even free) and yes – it can be made to work, but can you really be truly comfortable running your customers personal information and credit card details through a website that cost less than a three course meal?
At this point we’ll put our hands up and admit that we, like many fledgling web agencies dabbled with a handful of off-the-peg themes in our early days and after soon discovering what a royal pain in the bum they are to look after, shelved them in favour of building something proper from scratch instead.
However this ‘build-it-from-scratch’ approach a) takes way longer and b) costs much more – both of which likely prohibiting factors for small, independent businesses looking to dip a toe into eCommerce as a possible way to kickstart some revenue.
So, here’s some info on how to get the most out of selling online without breaking the bank. A decent collection of links and how-tos to start up your own online shop, get you through lockdown and keep selling.
The Daddy of self-service, quick setup eCommerce platforms. With a mornings work and your product information to hand you could have an online shop live within the day.
At less than £30 a month, you get a fully functioning eCommerce site that’s safe, secure and easy to manage, all backed up by 24/7 support. Oh, and there’s a seamless plugin that lets you sell products directly onto Facebook too.
On a pure price-to-performance ratio Shopify is pretty much unbeatable and should therefore be your first port of call.
Amazon Marketplace & eBay
Forty out of every hundred quid spent online in the UK is taken by eBay or Amazon.
Listing products is straightforward – eBay is – by some way – the easier for beginners – and whilst the final selling fees can be a little stingy at times, there is no bigger audience of potential buyers for your products. To put it bluntly – if at all possible – you should be selling on at least one (if not both) of these marketplaces, regardless of whether you have your own online shop or not.
We have clients who started their hugely successful online retail businesses solely on eBay and Amazon before adding their own digital shop fronts later; they’re impossible to ignore.
Etsy / Not on the High Street
For the right type product Etsy and Not on the High Street strike a nice balance of a large enough audience (they’re both massive players) and lower fees than eBay.
If you’re in the business of making or selling products that are quirky or handmade – especially gifts – Etsy and NOTHS are both worthy of your time and energy.