Small businesses: how to build your e-commerce shop

With the coronavirus forcing businesses to close their doors as governments around the world move to either ban or limit social contact, many freelancers and self-employed people are finding their income decimated by the virus. The lockdown has many economical consequences, including loss of turnover and layoffs for employees. Small businesses must rethink their business model and find solutions to maintain their operations. Consumption patterns have changed and consumers are more online. This leads to a strong increase of online sales which can be turned into a source of opportunity for small businesses.

If you do not yet have an e-commerce site, it is possible to counteract these losses through it. Customers find themselves at home in confinement, but this does not change their daily needs. They will therefore seek to regain their comfort of life through online services and different goods but in a different way. Starting an online activity can be a solution to limit losses. However, small businesses and entrepreneurs still need to be sufficiently advanced in the implementation of digital tools to take advantage of them. Indeed, merchants must facilitate online sales, payment or delivery.

If you would like to start your business online during this crisis and take advantage of the current situation or just shift your operations online, we will explain to you the main steps to start your business online.

1.  Building a website for your online business

With the development of e-commerce, there are many tools for online selling. If you don’t have any website but you want to sell your products and services quickly, you can join a platform that connects you and your customers, thanks to marketplaces like Amazon, Ebay, Rakuten. The barrier to entry for selling on an online marketplace is very low. You can also offer your products via social networks, with online shops such as Facebook by switching your company page to Shopping mode. This option is very interesting if you are starting your business and you do not have the possibility to create an e-commerce site.

If you already have a website but only serves as a showcase page for your business, use this tool to take advantage of it and turn it into a merchant site where your customers can order your products. In general, website creators such as Wix, Weebly, and Squarespace have options and tools to turn a basic website into a shopping website.

Otherwise, if you do not yet have a website up and running, but would like to create one from scratch, choosing a web host or a content management system (CMS) is not to be taken lightly. It can indeed be a real performance lever just as it can be a brake on the development of your activities, depending on its functionalities. There are several ready-to-use ecommerce CMS for SMEs on the market that allow you to build your online store easily. Shopify is one of the leading players in e-commerce platforms. If you already have an e-commerce site, but you have complex needs that Shopify does not meet satisfactorily, you might want to switch to Magento, WooCommerce or even BigCommerce.

In the long term, owning a site and an online store is by far the best way to create a sustainable brand image and build customer loyalty.

2. What are you going to sell? Products? Services?

If you provide services such as online courses, training, or teleconsulting, make sure you allocate your time well and adopt an online calendar such as Acuity, SimplyBook.me, and timify.com so that your clients can make appointments directly online. To sell physical items online, make sure you present your products with photos, descriptions and prices. Depending on the number of items you are going to sell, you will probably need professional help to organize to write the product descriptions, update the price page, etc. Another important element is that you need to deal with the logistics of shipping. An interesting tip is the use of drop shipment. In this case, you don’t have to have a product in stock: when a customer makes a request, you send it to the wholesaler, who will send the purchase directly to the customer.

3. Write and build content for your website

Highlighting the benefits of your services/products through a detailed description: functionalities, sales conditions, advantages, etc… on your online shop is key to attract online customers. This will help you gain visibility and stand out from your competitors. The aim is also to reassure the Internet user and the buyer by providing him with the information he needs to make his decision. Take the time to write the text and description of your products and services and make sure you use the right keywords and phrases used by your target audience to attract them more easily to your site.

Another question to ask yourself: is your business based on a one-off sale or a subscription sale? If you sell by subscription, make sure you can provide the service over the long term – this type of sale is very advantageous for recurring revenue and customer loyalty. Adding a contact page to your site is very important if your customers need help. They need to be able to reach you quickly by phone or email.

4. Choosing the right payment method

One of the most important decisions when launching your e-commerce site is the choice of payment methods. To sell online, it is necessary to set up a specific platform for the settlement of your products or services.

The credit card is a standard to pay online (VISA, MasterCard…), so an essential payment method for your online shop. To set the payment platform, you can go through a traditional/physical banking institution, which requires you to take out a Distance Selling contract and pay installation and subscription fees.

Ecommerce platforms for payment are numerous and each has its own particularities including Stripe, Paypal or HiPay. With the “full service” payment solution, the administrative procedures are generally less complicated, and usually payment is made on a commission basis only (no subscription or installation fees).

You should choose the one that is perfectly adapted to the products sold in your shop and to the target you are aiming at. You need to facilitate payment for customers and think about ease, security and reliability. You must provide your customers with various means of payment to enable them to pay for their purchases.

How can Everest help you launch your business online?

Everest offers business accounts and allows merchants to accept payments by credit card, pay bills, and enables secure online payments. Registration to the service is done directly on Everest website. The offer is particularly relevant for the liberal professions, local shops, food shops or charities for the collection of their services or collaborative deliveries. With Everest, merchants can easily manage accounting, track expenses with a clear dashboard and advanced tools such as categorization of expenses, possibility to attach receipts, check transactions history, etc. They also have the possibility to issue plastic and virtual cards from their account and link them to specific online subscriptions. To better manage your company expenses, order your Everest cards here.

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