It is one of the most critical stages for every beginner in the market. I often get concerns from my young clients who are just at the planning stage. They are very much concerned about choosing the relevant category, how they should start and what products should they be sourcing and what not? The flow of queries is so high at the early stage that some people get nervous and end up doing nothing and keep planning for months & months. Let’s get the general overview and get started with the very early stage process, and then we will proceed further with all the available options.
What is eCommerce?
I won’t go by definition. It is available all over the web, and whoever is willing to dive into eCommerce should at least be smart enough to look for such simple information & details. I will go by practical measures, analogies, anecdotes & explanations, making sense to move further rather than complicate early beginners situations. So, eCommerce means to start a business online to sell your products or services on almost either all or any available platforms. However, most of the times, eCommerce is all about products. I will talk about the services at the later stage, taking a very different approach.
Where should you start with for the growth of your eCommerce?
Well, while as I am going with the products first, there are many different platforms to leverage where you can start growing as a seller, while developing your own brand with your own website. You can consider start selling on Amazon, eBay as a very early stage. There are many other platforms like Etsy, Onbuy, Walmart and many more to consider if you like to make money without investing into your website. It is just to find how fast is eCommerce growing and what size of slice you can get for yourselves and which brings the good conversion rate for your eCommerce business.
What platforms should you consider for eCommerce?
Before I talk about setting up your own website, the platforms that need consideration are Woo-commerce, Magento, PHP Laravel, Zen Cart, Open Cart, CS-Cart etc. There are many platforms paid & free that can be one of your choices, but you need to look out for the option that suits & fits your needs and match with the offers you are like to provide to your customers. WordPress & Woo-commerce can create a good eCommerce store for most kind of products. You may also look to move with other bespoke platforms under PHP, Magento, which can be used to create a custom website and any offers you wish to provide to your customers or audiences.
Over-all review of the process in order to getting started with eCommerce.
Rather complicating the issues any further, I will talk about how to get into the initial stage. You should consider dividing your products in various pack sizes and generate SKUs (Stock Keeping Units) that would allow you to differentiate products. You need to keep track of the stock count, barcodes, cost price and retail price of your goods. Along with these, you also need to keep track of how your products vary amongst each other, which means a single product may have different types of designs, sizes, colours etc. The only reason you need this type of data is to have a proper database for your system, which will nurture your growth. As soon as you start garnering good results, you would need to re-order your stock and would have a further urge of generating a good stock holding and generating a handsome revenue.
How to start the initial process?
Everything sounds great, but the problem here is how would you start the process. What should be the optimal process that would help you generate the best data format, i.e. everything you would ever need during the lifetime of your eCommerce journey, and how would you manage it? I would suggest you start with a basic excel file that would consist of all the requisite data you can think of. I will share my file and will discuss in future course of action that would give you a very clear idea about how to come up with the maximum amount of information, about your products.
What tools should you consider for eCommerce?
I will also discuss the tools that would help you keep track of your products, orders, and other relevant data, integrating with the shippers that would help you deliver goods. Linnworks, Channel Advisor, Cloud Commerce, Volo etc. are the tools that would help you manage your data of products. You can also integrate with your Amazon, eBay accounts and can also configure your website so that all the order can directly land into these tools. Once you receive the orders in the system, it sits in the open orders, which can be processed from the system and they move into processed orders. The idea in here is although you have finished the total order, you still have the complete data about the orders and the related information. You can always use this information as and when needed for further analysis.
My personal favourite tool is Linnworks, which provides a user-friendly interface with almost all sorts of options you would ever need. I am going to discuss a lot in my future about all the features Linnworks provides and how can you correctly input all your data. This tool not only keeps the database for your own products, orders & customers but also, it keeps tracks of the product listings that you would create on Amazon and eBay and your website.
There is lot more the learn about inventories, pack sizes, variations and much more.
There is no compulsion which tool you may use. It could be depending on your budget, your localisation and your requirements. You may choose to have some other tool for your usage, but the overall idea doesn’t change. You may feel good to go ahead with the idea of keeping the database in a different format, but the general requirement of the database won’t change. So I will strictly advise you to learn about the concept of eCommerce and how can you get started with it. There are no such specific skills set to learn about maintaining your side of the process; it is just how you do it. You may feel some process right for your own, but it may not be the right way to do it in general.
So stay tuned and drop in the questions you may have until I come up with the next phase of the process to begin your journey alongside.