eCommerce 101: Your Checklist for Selling Online

Electronic commerce, EC, e-comm – eCommerce has many names, but what exactly is it? Don’t be overwhelmed, with this handy eCommerce 101 checklist, you have everything you need to set up your online store. 

eCommerce simply means any business or financial transaction that occurs online. 

More and more business is occurring online. The Census Bureau of the Department of Commerce announced that the estimate of U.S. retail e-commerce sales for the second quarter of 2018 was over $127.3 billion. E-commerce sales in the second quarter of 2018 also accounted for 9.6 percent of total sales. 

What’s more, according to CB Insights reported by Boomtown, online sales growth is outpacing total retail sales 17 percent verses 6 percent year over year.  Clearly, eCommerce is one of the most important and fastest-growing aspects of today’s retail landscape. 

Choosing the right eCommerce platform

Each business is a unique situation with specific needs for an e-commerce site. Are you a big business or a small boutique? Are you a quick serve restaurant or retail? Will you sell online only, or do you need to sync with a brick and mortar location too? How will you process payments? 

Don’t worry! Once you answer a couple of these questions, you’ll be selling online in no time, at all. All you need is the following eCommerce checklist.

The Checklist

✔️ Domain

First thing’s first: in order to have an eCommerce store, you need somewhere to host your site. You also need a domain name so customers can find you. This is the URL, or web address people can use to navigate to your site. 

If your site is a house, then the domain name is it’s mailing address.

Depending on the size of your business and the type of domain name you choose, it could run from as little as $10 a year, to upwards of hundreds or thousands! However, most small businesses should expect to pay about $10-15 a year for brand new domains, depending on the registrar and TLD.

The registrar is a service that allows you to officially register your desired website domain name so that it is unique to you, and no one else can use it. Back in the day, there was just one company that could register your domain name for you, but currently there are hundreds, including companies like GoDaddy or Web.Com or Hover.

✔️ Hosting

Web hosting refers to the place where all of your site’s files live. A good way to think of it, if the domain is the mailing address of your home, then the web hosting is the actual house it points to. 

Web hosting costs can start rather inexpensive for shared hosting, but those costs can often compound quickly. On a standard shared hosting plan, you can expect to pay around $90 to $150 per year.

✔️ Security

If you want to do business online, you need to ensure potential customers that your site is secure and their sensitive credit card information is not at risk. This means you have to create a SSL connection. SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) is a standard security protocol for establishing connections between a web server and a browser in an online transaction.

The usage of SSL technology ensures that all data transmitted between the web server and browser remains encrypted, keeping your customer data safe. 

A SSL certificate is necessary to create SSL connection. This SSL certificate typically costs around $250 a year. 

Establishing this security cannot be overlooked. Today, customers expect to see that your site is secure and a notification otherwise will prevent you from making sales online. eHopper handles all of this for you with the managed eCommerce package. When you create an online store to sync with your current POS, you are automatically provided with a SSL certificate and an encrypted, secure website to do business on. 

✔️ CDN

CDN is short for Content Delivery Network. A content delivery network (CDN) is a system of distributed servers (network) that deliver pages and other Web content to a user, based on the geographic locations of the user, the origin of the webpage and the content delivery server. This service is effective in speeding the delivery of content of websites with high traffic and websites that have global reach.

The fees associated with CDN can average around $200 per month, which can often stretch the budgets of small businesses. 

✔️ Content Management System

How will you manage your content? Your ecommerce site will need to include images and descriptions of your products and services. This content needs to be uploaded and consistently updated. Content management systems (CMS) can be complicated and require hours and hours of expensive backend development. The cost of a CMS will depend on many factors such as what you need the CMS to do and how large your website is. 

With eHopper, you web content is automatically synced from Back Office, meaning you don’t need to upload, tag or provide additional descriptions for anything. Your POS and ecommerce store will use the same content, meaning you only need to update it once, in one place. This dramatically reduces the overhead needed to set up an online store. 

✔️ Payment Processing

To sell online, you have to have a way to process credit cards. But, which one to use? 

If you don’t have any prior experience, this can be a headache to manage on your own. With eHopper’s managed eCommerce package, this process is already handled for you – leaving you more bandwidth to focus on details of your business. Ehopper integrates with Authorize.net, PayPal or Stripe. Between these three, almost all merchant processing is supported. You can seamlessly process payments between your online store and your point of sale, simultaneously. 

✔️ SEO

So now you’re online. Success! But, people have to find you. Your business needs to show up in Google results.

Search engine optimization (SEO) is the most efficient, cost-effective way to start. There’s an endless supply of online resources available focusing on business SEO. While some patterns begin to emerge as you start diving in, often business owners don’t have the time or bandwidth to manage their digital marketing efforts too. 

Many small business owners often connect with a professional to analyze their content, target keywords and plan strategy. Obviously, the cost of contracting these professionals can start to escalate quickly. If you need to optimize you web content, but don’t have hundreds of dollars to give to a 3rd party consultant, then your business could perhaps benefit from a managed ecommerce solution.

When you set up an online store with eHopper, our team of digital marketers optimize your site to make sure you are showing up in search results and establishing best practices for your online presence. 

✔️ Terms of Use

If you operate an e-commerce site, it’s important that you have a well-drafted set of Terms and Conditions agreement linked and easily available throughout your store.

These Terms and Conditions agreements can often protect you legally, as well as to set out the rules that you and your customers will follow when a purchase is made, while limiting your liability in the event that your product fails, hopefully covering what to do if any conflict arises. 

✔️ Privacy Policy

Establishing and building trust with visitors is very important for any site, but for an e-commerce store, it is imperative. Aside from building trust, it also makes sure you stay within your legal obligations. 

Having this agreement is crucial for a number of reasons:

  • It protects you from liability and clarify the purchasing process.
  • It can potentially be used to cancel accounts that are not within your terms.
  • It protects your intellectual property and clearly outlines as to how it might be used.
  • It outlines the way in which any disputes will be handled.
  • They also allow you to use payment gateways with credit card operators (who require you to have this agreement and a Privacy Policy before they will let you use their services)

✔️ Return Policy

A solid ecommerce return policy can make or break a sale or turn a visitor into a customer for life. In a survey by comScore and UPS, 63% of American consumers check the return policy before making a purchase and 48% would shop more with retailers that offer hassle-free returns. This is incredible valuable data to anyone doing business online. 

One of the biggest contributors to a sale is how you deal with a potential buyer’s common questions, especially regarding what you’ll do if they don’t like what they purchased. This is where you must pay attention to your displayed return policy and how accessible it is to potential customers. 

✔️ Shopping Cart

Your site needs a dynamic, functioning shopping cart. 

Back in the Wild West of the internet,the first online stores just consisted of pages with PayPal ‘Buy Now’ buttons, linking out the visitor to complete the transaction off-site. Then, shop owners would get a notification from PayPal once the order was placed, then the business owner would fulfill the order. This created headaches with trying manage a web of payment processing, shipping labels, and email platforms that tended to not always work well with each other. 

Enter the Shopping cart. Rather than taking customers to an obvious 3rd party site, modern shopping carts means your customers stay on-site (or at least, appear to) for a much more unified and seamless customer experience. Payment processing, transaction e-mails, shipping labels, security, and other elements are all handled through the platform, enabling business owners to focus on their business.

✔️ Sync Inventory with POS

Don’t oversell. Don’t miss a sell. 

Chances are if you’re an ecommerce retailer, you don’t sell goods exclusively online. Often, there’s a dedicated brick and mortar store space, as well. Perhaps you just sell face-to-face on occasions like trade shows and expos. In any case, you need a way to keep inventory up to date regardless of how the sale was recorded. That’s why it’s so important to synchronize inventory to POS software and to your online channels.

Shopping cart plugins can also isolate inventory from other stores or marketplaces you sell on, ensuring your inventory reports are accurate and available in real-time.

eHopper eCommerce

With eCommerce from eHopper, this entire checklist is already handled for you. We take all the work and worry out of setting up an online store, saving you both time and money in very direct ways.  

If you handle this checklist yourself a la carte, launching eCommerce could cost as much as three to four thousand dollars. eHopper offers an complete integrated platform for just $99 per month. This includes the whole checklist: cloud based hosting, SSL, CDN, domain management, system monitoring, search engine optimization, backups and full customer support. And it syncs with your physical point of sale!

Contact eHopper now and check-off eCommerce solution from your list of business needs, today!