Right after Thanksgiving, retailers can look forward to Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday…and the Holiday Shopping Season. Do you have an online store? We at Banshee Cloud have developed a system that makes having a full-featured eCommerce website affordable for anyone selling anything. But is an online storefront the right solution for you?
Static Website or eCommerce Solution?
Before we start, we need to point out that an eCommerce site is definitely not the same as your basic website. Websites will vary in complexity, with a simple, static website being sufficient for any business that will not be taking orders online. Some people refer to this as an “electronic brochure” and in the simplest of terms, it consists of one or more static pages that provide information about your business. Static pages contain some text and images and the content does not change unless someone changes it manually. The someone could be a web designer who changes the code of the page for you or you may do it yourself, using some sort of Content Management System (CMS). Which basically means you pay someone or you use your browser to log into a tool to edit the pages.
In some cases you pay monthly to host a static website. Some providers will offer you free websites, in exchange for them showing their ads on your site. Banshee Cloud includes a free website with unlimited pages and no ads as part of our basic nABLE and Office 365 packages. With a little basic instruction (video training is included in the package or live training is available) you can easily learn to set up and maintain this site yourself.
But such a website does not work well for online retailing (also referred to as e-tailing). Once you start selling products or services and have your customers pay for them online…you’re going to need a full blown eCommerce solution. An eCommerce solution lets you quickly add new products or edit and delete existing products without having to manually code them. You should be able to add multiple products and photos yourself with minimal effort. More importantly, you will need a an online shopping cart and a means to process payments. If you’re taking payments, you probably should have a secure server as your customers will be hesitant to provide a credit card to a site that is not secure.
Prior to the revolution in cloud computing, retailers would pay significant amounts of money to sell online. The majority of the cost would involve the development, configuration, and deployment of the proper software. In the past, your only option would be to spend several thousand dollars paying a web developer to create a custom eCommerce solution. The entire process would take months and like any other software development project, you would be constantly revising the design and testing the product. In many cases, this process would take months.
Nowadays, there are numerous services that offer basic templates at a very affordable price. If you decide to use such a service, make sure that you know what the setup charges are and what the monthly charge will be. Also see if there are limits to the number of pages and/or products you can have, how much bandwidth you are allocated, and the amount of storage space. Bandwidth is important, as some services only give you a certain number of megabytes or gigabytes of data transfer as part of the package. In practice, this means you will pay more if you get more visitors to your site. If you don’t expect a large volume of visitors, this is not an issue. But if your store is successful and you have lots of traffic, this could prove to be quite expensive.
So up until now, eCommerce either meant spending a lot of money creating custom software or settling for a basic, template-based site with some limitations. Fortunately, because of the latest cloud computing solutions, Banshee Cloud has developed a system that allows us to deploy pre-configured full featured eCommerce solutions inexpensively and have them ready for you to add your products within a few minutes. The actual times vary, depending upon the requirements of your business. But if your requirements are straightforward and you already have some key items, such as a domain and SSL certificate, we can have the site up and running within a half hour. And since our setup is minimal, the cost to you becomes extremely affordable.
Content For Your Products
Whichever approach you decide to take, you can save substantial amounts of money by creating your own product copy and photographs. If you are a reseller or distributor, this is easy enough to obtain. Simply check with your suppliers or manufacturers. They usually have product images and copy that you can use. Otherwise, you can either hire a photographer or take your own photos. Just make sure the images are properly lit and you pay attention to your focus and your composition. Badly produced photos are the kiss of death to online sales. Remember that your customers will buy based upon what they literally see on your site.
Good descriptions of your products are important too. Beyond the photos, the copy describing the products will basically be your sales pitch. If you don’t have someone on your team that can write the copy, it may be a good investment to hire a freelance copywriter. You don’t need a Pulitzer Prize winning author. In many cases, you can hire a student with a good knack for writing.
But your content is crucial. Again your product photos and copy will usually be the only sales pitch your customers will see. If they don’t look professional and aren’t appealing, your customers won’t buy them. If you’re still not sure how you’ll produce your content, we can help you at very reasonable rates.
The Bottom Line
In summary, selling online goes beyond a simple, static website. You can take the custom development route and expect to pay substantial amounts of money. Or if your requirements are simple, you can use a stock template. But for the same amount or even less, Banshee Cloud has developed a means for anyone to economically set up an online store. This is why we use the motto: “Online Stores For All!” It doesn’t matter if you have a chain of retail locations or if you sell homemade crafts on the side…now anyone can afford to have an online store with the same features as the largest e-tailers! For more information, please visit http://GetStore.nABLEcloud.me to learn more about our nABLE eCommerce solutions!