toes in the waterThe Quick And Easy Way To Prove Up Your Online Business Idea…Without Costing The Earth

One of the issues you face deciding to set-up an ecommerce online store for your business is ‘Will it work for my business?’.

This is a real dilemma for many people and I totally understand why.

There has traditionally been a big investment involved in getting you website online and ready to trade. This was bought home to me about 5 years ago when the daily deal sites were just starting to become popular.

A new client asked for an ecommerce site to specialise in the daily deal space with an emphasis on deals that are only available for 24 hours. The idea seemed worthwhile and the client provided a detailed brief. It included a custom design, logo development, customised functionality and advice on what they would have to do to market and grow the business.

We provided the strategy plan and split the work…the client to start preparing to run their business, generate relationships with providers of their daily deals products and start planning marketing and JV deals to generate the buyer traffic.

We got on with the custom build using a customisable commercial ecommerce CMS.

To cut a long story short, we ended up with an excellent multi-vendor website (bit like a shopping mall with product providers renting their individual ‘shops’) but the client underestimated the effort they would need to invest in making the business work.

They mistakenly thought that online meant easy and simple because they didn’t need a shop front and counter staff etc. After much coaching and guidance, they abandoned the project with about $25,000 invested for no return. It was a really sad day after all that effort.

How Do You Prove Your Idea Is Worthwhile Without Investing A Fortune?

Luckily, in the last few years the eCommerce market for online retail businesses has really matured. Customers have grown used to buying online and using their credit cards in websites. Security has improved. And possible most of all, the start up costs have dramatically reduced.

While custom developed sites will always carry higher costs, if for no other reason than there is a lot of design and programming work needed which involves many hours of people time, there are now pre-done self-hosted solutions that can let you get your online store operating within days and testing your concepts.

By contrast to the example I gave above, we were able to get one fashion designer’s website operating within 1 month (would have been a lot faster but the client had holidays and photo shoots happening during the build-out which caused delays) and for a small fraction of the price of the daily deals website. The website we developed for was even faster…1 week (not our usual time frames but we agreed to help achieve an urgent product launch).

The key is to not get carried away with design and focus on getting a quality site with products and payment gateway live in the shortest possible time. Then focus on marketing, testing and tweaking the online store for maximum conversion.

The lessons from this approach will prove your concept quickly and allow you to plan the next iteration of your website with real experience that you gain first hand.

We use platforms like Bigcommerce and Shopify to build these websites and in some cases WooCommerce on a WordPress platform, which are helping to re-invent the ecommerce space. We also use ThriveCart where the situation warrants it, which is ideal for professional services, consultants and other uses with lower product volumes or where multi-currency is needed. They are powerful, fully featured and have a range of base designs available that can be tweaked to your look and feel using colour, logos and images.

Best of all you can get going fast and at reasonable prices. Prices will vary on the degree to which you do it your self through to have a full ‘done for you’ solution.

Get in touch to discuss your project now.

Updated:21 June 2017