E-commerce the Easy Way

Want to turn your brick-and-mortar business into an ecommerce site, but don’t know where to start?

Shelves of many differing food and drink items

Want to turn your brick-and-mortar business into an e-commerce site, but don’t know where to start?

We’re here to help. We asked a couple of our favorite experts, John and Kyle, to weigh in on the subject. Kyle’s our lead developer, and he’s helped dozens of people create online shops. And no one can match John’s passion about e-commerce — he stepped in to give us the business perspective and tell us why the field can be so exciting.

John Says: I like to tell customers that, in a lot of ways, opening up an online shop is just like opening a physical location. You plan the location, you build out the building, put up the shelves, set up the cash register, and then you load your shop up with products. Then you hire people, put a smile on your face, and open up for business.

In a lot of ways, an ecommerce site is the same. This is encouraging, because most of our clients who want to sell online have already done well in their physical shops — and it’s our job to figure out how to turn that success into an even bigger profit. The key is driving the traffic to your website and giving and choosing an internet marketing plan that helps you do so.

Tell us how you did it with your retail brick-and-mortar store, and let us figure out how to use those same steps for success on the Internet. With the right team in place, it’s a piece of cake. Making money while you sleep — what could be more fun!

Yes, setting up an ecommerce site is hard work, but we can help you with all the scary stuff. Let us be the experts at e-commerce so you can concentrate on running your business the way you know is best. What are some of the first pieces we put in place? We threw that question out to Kyle and here’s his answer:

How to Prepare for Your First Online Store

Have a Shipping Plan

Kyle Says: Before you start selling physical goods online, you’ll need to know how to get those items to the people who buy them and how to calculate the cost of doing so on your site. We can actually connect with USPS, UPS or FedEx to provide accurate costs if you get us the physical dimensions of your products. You could also build shipping tables to determine shipping based on quantity, shipping classes and price. We can help you know what’s possible and manageable so you won’t lose money getting your product to your customers.

John Says: Or, you can just set a fixed fee for shipping, say $7.95, when a customer purchases more than three items (the way Amazon does). This is the simplest way to handle shipping, and it encourages your customers to buy more. Remember that shipping may cost you a little, but you’re not having to pay for a salesperson, and you’re not losing any products due to shrinkage — those two costs typically far outweigh the small shipping costs you may incur.

Know Your Local Tax Laws

Kyle Says: Most retailers must pay taxes to the same state they have a physical location in. However, there can be different state, city and even county laws depending on where you live. Get familiar with your local tax laws and bring us your plan so we can be sure your customers are charged the correct rates.

John Says: We aren’t tax attorneys, so there’s a limit to how much we can advise you. But I can tell you that the majority of our clients (I’d go as high as 99%) charge a flat rate if the purchaser resides in Alabama, and charge no tax if the purchaser resides in another state.

When Your Products Change, Be Sure Your Website Does

Kyle Says: Think about how you’ll get your product information, including prices, pictures, product descriptions, etc., on your site. We can import this information for you in the beginning, but put a plan in place to be sure you can keep your products up-to-date. We’ll help make sure you’re fully trained and confident in managing your products on the web so you can respond to changes in your product line.

John Says: Kyle’s right, but also keep in mind that photos — excellent photos — are the key to success online. This doesn’t have to be expensive or difficult. We can even show you how to set up a little “photo booth” where you can create great photos of your products. See the difference great photos make at Elizabeth Bruns. Notice these photos are all the same size and shape, so they look consistent. And when you click on the product, you see a nice large photo. We can show you how to take and add those photos to your site to give the customer an excellent experience that makes them want to buy your products.

Get Started in Ecommerce

Kyle Says: Entering the online market can take some preparation, but it’s worth the investment. We’ve built hundreds of these sites, and we know how to set you up successfully, and our support team will be with you every step of the way to be sure you succeed.

John Says: Get going! With every day and every delay, you are losing money!


About Carrie

Carrie has been copyediting and writing for fifteen years. Her skills were forged in the newsroom at The Birmingham Post-Herald and she’s a huge book nerd (she moonlights as Southern Living’s book reviewer), but a love of paper and ink hasn’t stopped her from mastering the digital world as well: She’s had a blog pretty much since they existed, and she’s run social media for companies big and small. Carrie’s always ready to take on a new communication challenge, lecture us about the proper use of semicolons, or defend the fact that her Instagram account is filled with selfies.

See more articles from Carrie Rollwagen

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