Web Hosting Reviews

This is how you get your own e-shop

The 2000s have in many respects been the decade of e-tailers. The number of e-shops is growing steadily, more and more people are choosing to make their purchases in front of the computer screen, which leads to online sales becoming bigger and bigger every year. According to the payment solution provider Dibs, online Christmas shopping in 2009 increased by 17 percent compared to the same period last year. And many of the online merchants are small business owners.

Supplementing the business with an e-store not only strengthens your brand and opens up new customers – it’s also fun and an excellent way to develop and learn something new. And above all – it doesn’t have to cost the shirt and it doesn’t require advanced technical skills.

The easiest way for the small business owner to get an e-shop is to rent a ready-made web-based e-commerce solution on a monthly basis. Another way, which usually requires a bit more start-up capital and basic technical knowledge, is to buy the e-store as ready-made software and install it on your own server.

Available in all price ranges
There are about a hundred e-commerce solutions on the Swedish market, and the majority of them are specifically aimed at small businesses. Prices vary from a couple of tens a month for a simple standard solution to many times that for customized special solutions. There are also free variants and stores that can be connected to a blog for those who are handy and have really tight margins.

Urban Lindstedt, consultant and author of the book “E-handlarens handbok”, recommends the beginner to choose an e-shop carefully, to invest in a rental solution and preferably a Swedish one.

– There are many cheap and perfectly fine solutions on the market. And for those who can think of putting a couple of hundreds of rupiahs in a month, they can get a really good system. The advantage of the Swedish systems is that they have connections to the Swedish payment systems, he says.

With a web-based rental shop for a couple of hundred Swedish kroner a month, you usually have the opportunity to post about a hundred items and a simpler design is included. There is also almost always support for both card and invoice payments. If you choose a rental shop that costs around the thousand mark, you get a shop where you can put up significantly more goods, greater opportunities to influence the design, as well as tools for inventory management, newsletters and blogs.

Most business and financial systems today have ready connections so that it is possible to connect a web shop module. By connecting the systems, the administration usually becomes much smoother.

– Moving orders manually can be time-consuming and it doesn’t have to be a big deal to connect the store with the existing system. It is really worth spending money on a coupling, explains Urban Lindstedt.

Expensive with logistics

A common beginner’s mistake is that you don’t count on logistics costing money. Shipping in Sweden is relatively expensive. So it is important to calculate properly before opening your e-shop, otherwise there is a risk that the logistics will eat up the entire profit.

Posten is still the most common option when it comes to shipping within Sweden, although there are other players such as Schenker and DHL.

Important to drive traffic
According to Urban Lindstedt, one of the biggest challenges is getting visitors to his e-shop.
– It is quite easy to get started with the shop, the problem is the traffic. If you have good margins
I recommend that you buy traffic with, for example, sponsored links with, for example, Google adwords.

– Anyone who doesn’t have the budget to buy traffic can fix the traffic by, for example, blogging about the subject the sale is about, he advises.

If you learn social media such as Facebook and Twitter, you can use them as a good and cheap way to get traffic. According to Urban Lindstedt, another thing that is worth spending a little extra on is the design.

– If there is competition and your store looks sloppy, you will have a hard time. The Swedes are used to decent web design, so it is absolutely worth spending a few extra kroner on the design, he says.

Invest in service
Being the cheapest is not always the key to success.
– To succeed, you must invest in good service, that is more important than price. You shouldn’t be too expensive, but you certainly don’t have to be the cheapest. Many of the successful online stores are not the cheapest, explains Urban Lindstedt.

An example of good service is fast delivery times. Another is to always try to answer customers’ questions. Urban Lindstedt brings up the successful American company Zappos, which sells shoes, as an example:

– Zappos’ idea is to do everything for its customers. If a customer wants something that Zappos doesn’t have in their assortment, they advise the customer at which of the competitors they can find the item. Zappos sees itself as a service company that happens to sell shoes, he says.

Fast delivery times and being available for questions are two examples of good service. It is also good service to offer customers several different payment options in the e-shop.

– Customers should be able to pay by both card and invoice. There are lots of different providers of payment solutions. The easiest and cheapest to get started with is Payson. Most systems have ready-made connections there, says Urban Lindstedt.

You will find more information about Swedish payment solutions in the fact box on the right.

Talk about who you are
Credibility is important to succeed online. According to Urban Lindstedt, one way to win the buyer’s trust is to be completely open, but who you are.

– Tell the story about yourself and why you run the store. Feel free to show a picture of yourself and post your direct number. Don’t just use forms, but show who you are who works with the store, what your premises look like and put out your address. These are cheap points to create security.

Marketing is important, especially when you have a start-up business. Many spontaneously think expensive when they hear the word marketing. But that’s not always the case, you can take care of it yourself and don’t have to pay for the shirt.

– A newsletter is a cheap and good way to market yourself. If the e-shop does not include a newsletter, there are excellent external newsletter services. I usually use one called Mailchimp. It doesn’t cost that much and can also be tested for free, says Urban Lindstedt.

With a newsletter, you can, for example, send out offers and tell about news in the store. Customers can sign up for the letter themselves on the site or click that they want the letter when shopping in the store. It is not permitted to email advertising to anyone who has not indicated that they are interested. It must also be possible for customers to unregister when they no longer want the letter.

Online stores – comparison
Here you will find a compilation of 5 online store solutions. Click to see a larger version of the table.

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