While it is true that an e-commerce website has advantages: increased sales, lower costs, and therefore increased profits, it may or may not be a good fit for your business. This may seem strange advice coming from someone who wants to sell you said e-commerce website, but it's not worth it to us if you are not successful. There are a few questions you must ask yourself and seriously consider before taking the plunge.
Is There a Market for My Products Online?
Most importantly, but not necessarily most obvious, you must decide what you are selling online. Some products are not readily sold online and it may be difficult to find a customer base. Some products already have so many sources that it may be difficult for you to carve out your share of the market. Be your own mystery shopper - pretend you're shopping for the products you want to sell. Take note of your competitors:
- How many are out there
- How big are they
- What are their prices
- How good are their websites
Am I Ready to Make the Commitment to Finding Customers?
You may already have a customer base to start with. That's one mark in the plus column for you! If not, it will take some effort on your part to find some customers. It's not necessarily difficult labor, but you will need to walk consistently in the right direction. This may include search engine optimization (SEO), AdWords, or other online marketing strategies.
Will It Be Cost Effective to Sell Online?
If online shoppers can get it cheaper on Amazon.com, what's the point of you trying to sell it. Cost effective doesn't always mean cheaper, though. Can you differentiate a high quality or custom item and justify the higher price tag and be profitable that way? What will it cost to ship your products? Will shoppers be willing to pay that much? Sit down with a calculator and make a list of all the costs and be realistic about what you can get for your products before investing in an e-commerce website.
There are other considerations out there, including many disadvantages of e-commerce, but this should be a good starting point for a reality check.