How to build an eCommerce website that earns
If you do even a little research into the possibility of creating an eCommerce store, you'll find countless sources telling you it's super easy and quick to. Well, I'm here to tell you that IT'S ALL TRUE! Yes that's right, you can build an eCommerce website in a very short amount of time. Just get yourself a Shopify or BigCommerce account you'll be selling in no time.
And you'll easily make tons of money.
And can retire early, and live happily ever after!
Thanks for reading, see you next time!
But... just before you go, if I could be so bold as to venture an opinion - actually earning from an eCommerce store isn't quite as straightforward as actuallly getting one in the first place can be.
I've been involved in the world of eCommerce for a fair old while, the last 13 years in fact, and over that time I've picked up a few things about running a successful store that actually earns.
In this blog, I'll be talking about everything you need to know to run an eCommerce store, and what I've learnt it takes to make a successful, profitable business.
If you want the short version, here it is:
Building an eCommerce website that earns isn't quick, easy or cheap - sorry. Anyone that tells you otherwise is probably trying to sell you something.
Key points to consider before building an eCommerce store
I say points, but there's really only one thing you really need to know. eCommerce is hugely competitive. Whatever you decide to sell in your store, there will always be strong and established competitors already in the market. If you do manage to find a niche with little competition, it probably means there aren't enough potential customers to make an eCommerce investment worthwhile. But also bear in mind that it's so competitive for a reason - the rewards can be significant.
The Office for National Statistics has a great graph that helps us to visualise just how competitive the market is compared to even just a decade ago. See if you can spot when COVID struck, there's a tiny blip in the graph, ahem.
Looking at the Christmas peak for 2013 the percentage of retail sales that were online was a little under 11%. But if we look at the Christmas 2022 peak the figure is just under 30% - a nearly 3x increase in just a decade. If we do a quick bit of maths we can speculate that in 10 years from now the figure is likely to be - as a minimum 50%, but probably a fair bit higher.
So what does this mean for someone like you who's thinking about, or perhaps already has created an eCommerce store? Just that you're going to have to understand your market deeply, and have a solid USP if you're to succeed against the ever-growing competition.
But - on the flip side it also means that right now is a great time to build an eCommerce store because the market is only going to get bigger. However competitive it is, if you approach it having done the proper preparation and research, really understand your target market, and know how to tackle the competition to entice customers to you - there's always room for another successful store.
Ultimately, the person who succeeds in an eCommerce venture is the person who's willing to put in the time, effort, and investment that's required.
And talking about investment leads nicely to my next point...
How much does it cost to build an ecommerce website?
This is one of the key questions isn't it? But I think the question that needs to come before this one is:
How much do you want your store to succeed?
That's the thing about competition - the greater the competition, the harder you have to work to stand out. But if you put out the right message and give people the reason to, customers will decide to buy from you instead of your competitors. And that's ultimately what you're looking for.
So how do you go about getting ahead of the competition like this? Well, something you need to know is that all your competitors are going to be regularly investing in their eCommerce operations - no doubt about that. And the reality is that this means you need to be doing the same so you can offer your customers the best version of your store, and the most enticing marketing to get people to visit it.
The more you spend, the better you'll compete
What this actually means for you entirely depends on your budget, and what your competitors are doing. Look at your competitor's sites - are they super slick and modern? Is the look of it bang up to date and attractive? Then you're probably looking at a store that's had significant investment and time put into it.
You might not be able to compete directly with your competitors right away, but you should plan on building something that has a good minimum standard for launch. Something that you are happy to go live with that doesn't break the bank, and doesn't seek perfection. This is your MVP or Minimum Viable Product.
The reality is that the more you spend, the better you'll compete, and the more you'll earn. Yep, it's that good old business principle - you need to spend money to make money.
And you can probably imagine that if your competitors are spending on their stores, that means it's not a solo effort, so...
Can I build an eCommerce website on my own?
Short answer - yes. But if you want it to be successful - categorically a definite no.
eCommerce is a fast moving, ever evolving industry. It's always moving forward, always evolving, always striving to offer the customer, more, better and easier buying - all in the name of staying ahead of the competition. Historically, you absolutely could create and run a successful eCommerce store on your own, but those days are long gone. The reality today is you can't run a successful eCommerce store solo.
it's a good thing because it means the industry is always improving and moving forward, giving the customer an ever improving buyer experience. But it does also mean that customer expectations are always being raised, and if you don't meet that standard, customers are unlikely to buy from you in any great number.
Any successful eCommerce operation today has many moving parts, all of which are needed if you hope to deliver on customer expectations and find success. First off you need to get the store developed right and this is something I have a little experience in having been a professional Magento developer since 2010. A well developed store is the foundation of the entire eCommerce operation. It defines what the sales team can offer, to no small degree the quantity of customer service enquiries they'll be, how fluid and intuitive the store is to use, how well the store is optimised for search engines - and much more.
Any business process you need in place, or any functionality you need to make the day-to-day operation of the store easier - a good developer will be able to action. With the build of your eCommerce website being the foundation of the entire eCommerce operation, development is not where you want to be cutting corners.
The reality today is you can't run a successful eCommerce store solo
Well after that minor tangent (on a subject I'm passionate about), let's get back to the focus of this section. Running an eCommerce store has at least the following components that all need someone to take responsibility for:
- Good design
- Good usability (UX)
- Order fulfilment
- Customer service
Most people would agree, that's a bit too much for one person to manage, even if you never plan to sleep again.
Which you probably won't if you try to do all that on your own.
Where do I go to start my eCommerce adventure?
You'll often find that connecting with an experienced developer is a great place to start this journey. A developer that's been doing it a good while will have eCommerce knowledge that stretches far beyond just the actual development work.
They'll understand and be able to visualise your entire eCommerce operation, know what's needed to make your ideas a reality, and advise on a wide range of queries around the practical requirements of creating and operating your store.
And funnily enough - an easy, and completely free way to connect with experienced developers who offer just what you need is exactly what we do here at Developer Connection. Spend a couple of minutes telling us about what you have in mind for your store, and we'll instantly connect you with 5 developers you can talk to about your eCommerce store - for free.
I really hope this post has been useful, and if you have any questions or thoughts, just drop a message in the comments below, where you can also find some of my other relevant blogs.