Making profits with your existing website design or creating a new online store can be exciting, affordable and most of all; rewarding. Mmmm . . . that's what the last sales guy told me.
What is eCommerce (or selling via the Internet)? It is similar to selling through a physical building's business storefront, with one big difference: the costs for eCommerce are lower. The lower costs alone make it a lot more affordable for someone to start up a business or expand their storefront business onto the Internet.
So, the cost to do online business depends on how much time and effort you are able to put in and the eCommerce developer you choose to work with. Generally, developers should try to enable their clients to be as independent as possible in areas such as daily site updates, processing online orders, customer feedback and low or no cost (except time) online marketing.
Hosting costs are determined by: the amount of 1) server space you require for product photos, e-mail accounts, and 2) bandwidth - the more customers that visit your store, the more bandwidth you will require. Typically an online store setup may cost $15 to $90 per month for hosting.
Other costs include online store program and designing the storefront. There are many programs to choose from with some being free to some costing thousands. As with anything you buy, you do get what you pay for. Clients like to use online store setups that are easy for them to use when they need to do product updates and simple design changes. That way the initial higher cost for the client's online store will be offset by ease of use and low maintenance costs to operate over the long term.
Next we have graphical design costs, that can range from $70 for a pre-designed store template to a built from scratch setup that can cost $500 and up. If you have only a few products I would suggest starting with the pre-designed store template as the cost is low and the look is quite professional, with only a small amount of time required to input text and make some minor modifications to suit your requirements. If you have quite a few products and they are quite different from each other, you may incur more cost to develop the graphic design as each product category will have a look designed just for that category.
Finally, we need to open up the store for business: market the store and bring in some customers to buy the products. As mentioned earlier, there is no-cost marketing that can be done. For example, the site can be submitted to the primary search engines, adding the store listing to online directories that are relevant to the product or service, and exchanging store links with other sites that are similar but not direct competition.
What are we selling? When your starting out with a new product, try to stay with a unique product that is light in weight, as shipping costs are often overlooked in starting up an online business. If you already have existing products to sell, revisit shipping costs and see where you can find savings.
I find most business owners sell what they are most passionate about. Some of your present hobbies or interests could sell as the end product, as items purchased by other people. Some of the most successful online stores are a result of one's passion and desire to share their dream with others and if done logically and thoughtfully with a good web developer, can result in financial rewards at a low investment cost through an online store.
- About the Author -
Since 1997, Dennis Dadey, Chief Designer at IR Design, has been helping people with e-commerce applications. Find out more about IR Design at http://www.irdesign.com.