Think of it like opening up a new bricks and mortar shop, you need to get the decorators in, the electricians, but fittings etc. Going online and setting up an eshop has the same set-up requirements: designing and building your shop, sorting out fulfilment and photography, getting a merchant account. Once it’s up and running, it’s then about driving traffic through search, social and email – which do cost time and money, but not as much as the set up. The only way to reduce costs of setting up is trying to do everything yourself, without hiring an agency or a contractor to do the work. It’s not impossible to do, but be prepared to get your geek specs on!
Generally we find that there’s an ecommerce solution out there to suit most budgets, from small-scale design & build to a full ATG implementation. In principle, the bigger the scale of the online business and the more complex the design and functionality, the higher the costs of design, build, technology, hosting & support.
If you feel the costs you have been quoted are too high:
- Ensure your requirements are realistic for the scale of the business you are planning, don’t be overambitious at this stage – remember that it’s better to have an online channel up and running that you can improve as your business grows, than to have nothing at all.
- Make sure that the potential suppliers you are talking to are the right size and fit for your business, you will usually get better value and service from someone for whom your custom is really important.
- Look at a range of service providers and take into account the impact their total proposition would have on the cost of running your ecommerce business – you may pay more for integration and automation, but these will make your business more efficient and scalable.
- As you get into your ecommerce project, which I hope you do, manage the process closely:
- Think through and document your requirements up-front, then stick with them. This will ensure your chosen service provider delivers what you want and you don’t have to pay for any re-work. Pay particular attention to anything that affects your future natural search performance, you’ll be pleased you did.
- Get really involved in the design process, thinking through how your customers will use your new site and whether the site will deliver your business objectives.
- Stay close as the site is being built and use every opportunity to review progress and pick up any issues that arise along the way.
- Allocate adequate time for testing, so that you can ensure the site meets your (documented) requirements and you pick up any bugs, as once you’ve paid the final bill it’s harder to get things changed without incurring additional costs.
Finally, start thinking very early on in the process about your target market and how you are going to attract them to your new site, you will need a robust plan for this, as you will want to make your investment in an online channel work for you.