I Want a Cheap eCommerce WebsiteKenneth Nel
There is a global scramble for the online space. Brick and mortar businesses have realised with shocking clarity that they need to go where the people are…and the people are online. “Cheap eCommerce website” seems to be the Google search of the day.
If you’re a start-up and just finding your feet in business, then you’re on a budget, we get it. But if you’re an established business, or you have funding to get your fabulous concept to market, then we’d like to whisper a word of caution in your ear.
We all know the old adages, “You get what you pay for” and “If you pay peanuts then you get monkeys.” And yes, this kind of applies when you’re considering an eCommerce website. However, what you don’t want is to be the next victim of Cowboy Jim who can throw together an online store for you in a couple of hours for $5.
The questions that we should be asking if we want to set up an eCommerce store are:
- Can I build an eCommerce store myself?
- Should I go with the cheapest quote?
- What else do I need to grow my business online?
We’ll try to answer these questions below.
DIY with Shopify?
Of course, you can build your own website. Perhaps you don’t have all the necessary tools in your repertoire of skills but hey, that’s what Google is there for.
There are several DIY eCommerce website building options out there which promise a plug ‘n play solution. And to be fair to them, they offer some pretty decent software to get you started.
The foremost among these is Shopify which claims an intuitive interface and the perfect eCommerce solution. For some, this may be the case. However, there are a few snags which may not work for you.
Ever heard of vendor lock-in? The clue is in the name, where a company will offer you their services while you remain their client. If you choose to leave, or they close down, you have very little access to your information, if at all.
In the case of Shopify, you can get a ready-made store for $29.00 per month which certainly caters for the new kids on the block. However, if you cancel your services, you get a CSV file with your products, but any styling, imagery, SEO traction or blog posts are lost forever.
In addition, there are the add-ons which may look like ‘nice-to-haves’ on your site, but are actually really important for building your business… such as email accounts or reporting.
Personalised styling is limited and apps to complete your website to your ideal can be pricey.
Add to this the cost of processing transactions, as well as additional charges for order tracking, loyalty plans, or gift cards and the monthly costs start to add up.
Basically, it’s never really yours.
There are, of course, other options available to the intrepid business person who wants to go it alone – but when you’re trying to get a business off the ground who has time for learning a whole new skill set (and then practising on yourself!)
Should I Go With The Cheapest Website Quote?
If you really want to save money then you need to know exactly what you want. Only then will you be able to accurately compare quotes from various web development companies.
Maybe you’ll get lucky and find a freelancer who is underselling himself, but if you’re going with an existing (reputable) company then it would be an idea to go with your list of must-haves in hand.
This list isn’t exhaustive but will serve as a great jump-off point.
Bare Bones eCommerce Site
- Your domain name (renewable annually)
- Hosting (paid monthly or annually)
- Security certificate
- Site architecture
- Site design and branding
- Searchable categories
- Product information, pricing, images and SKUs
- Payment gateway
- Automated confirmations
- Contact form
- SEO setup
- Delivery options
- Refund policy
- Support and security
Business Building eCommerce Requirements
If you are hoping that your business is going to be your bread and butter, then you will need to expand your requirements to include:
- Comprehensive SEO – backend and on-page
- Google my business and Google maps set up
- Google Analytics and Google Tag Manager set up and linked
- Flexible payment options to cater for various cards, transfers, vendors and currencies
- Stock and payment systems with your accounting software
- Integrated CRM software which saves user data and tracks purchases
- Linked email funnel to keep customers coming back
- Research on products, competition and trends
- SEO friendly content for organic ranking
- Schema markups
- Regular automated backups
If the cheapest quote gives you what you need to grow your business then you’re onto a winner.
What Else do I Need to Grow my Business Online?
If you have a great looking eCommerce site and fantastic products, the next logical step is to tell people about it.
In this space, you have two main options for getting traffic to your site: paid and earned.
If your SEO is good then you may rank well on search engine results. If you’re a skilled social media specialist then you’ll likely get some traction on Facebook or Instagram. But if you’re in a competitive industry then you may have to bring out the big guns and put some money behind your ads.
This can come in the form of Google search or display ads, Facebook and Instagram ads, email marketing, remarketing, and other digital options which put your product in front of the right people at the right time.
Exploring a False Economy
You’ve no doubt gathered that a little research won’t go amiss when you’re planning your eCommerce website. There is a lot of information and opinion out there, but ultimately it’s you who has to deal with a substandard product or celebrate with a real winner.
A cheap eCommerce site doesn’t always equal a good business decision.
We’d like to encourage you to book a call with a digital coach who can answer your questions and offer some insight into your eCommerce decisions.