E-commerce is a tricky animal. To start, you must be original, fresh and forward-thinking. If you already have a retail space then it is almost necessary to have an online store as well. Shoppers are more apt to shopping online now; there is no stigma anymore. In the early days of e-commerce ruled by eBay, Craigslist and Amazon, shoppers were weary of venturing past the big names. Now if a user finds what they want on a site that appears to be trust-worthy, then they will go for it. The key word there is "trust-worthy". Have a safe and secure site is priority number one, but we'll get to that in a minute
Here are some questions to ask yourself before jumping into e-commerce:
Do you have the bandwidth to run shipping operations?
Start with a plan
Just like any website, planning is paramount to the success of the site. This is even more true with e-commerce. You must start by brainstorming, researching, and really thinking about what it is that you are doing. Don't take anything for granted; make goals and form a physical business plan for your on-line business.
Carefully choose a Domain name
After really giving your business plan thought, get a domain name that really fits your on-line model. This is different than choosing a domain name for your storefront i.e Sue's Shoes may choose the domain name suesshoestulsa for their store front, but you'll need the domain name to be a little more specific. Image that Sue's Shoes a plus size shoe vendor; then, a name that might work would be suesplusshoes. If you do this correctly it will make marketing to a much larger market a little easier.
Choose your Vendors wisely
If you already have a store front, then you know that you have to choose who you are buying product from carefully. It is no different when choosing your on-line vendors; from designers, to shipping, to hosting, to domain registrars, you will have to choose from a wide variety of vendors. When looking at vendors, be sure to look at everything they offer, and remember you get what you pay for (this is especially true on the internet).
Intuitive Design is a must
People shop and return to shop on websites they trust. One of the easiest ways to keep them coming back for more is the develop an intuitive user experience. This goes beyond good looking design. It is essential that everything flows in a manner that you clients will be 100% comfortable and pleased with. This is a little tricky to accomplish, because it requires someone that knows what they are doing; consider hiring a professional to help with this in order to maximize your return.
Social media is a must (See Also: The Time is Now; Get on Social Media)
The best way to sell you product, after the site is launched, is through Social Media Marketing (SMM) and Search Engine Marketing (SEM). The only way to make money on-line today is to spend money; in order to make big money you have to spend a good amount. Yes, it is tricky to market online. The same is true for this as user experience (UX) as it is for SMM and SEM; it may be best to hire a professional to help aid in this matter.
Don't be afraid of jumping into e-Commerce; just be sure that you have taken all in to account before launching you products on the internet.