This number will only go up in 2013 (projected at $1.2 trillion) and a chunk of that is yours for the making. But where the heck do you start? Short answer, get organized. Long answer, read on.
Yes, the dreaded spreadsheet. Where ever your product information is stored (in Quickbooks, on paper or in your head) start breaking it out via data export or a fresh new Excel doc.
Your web developer needs your best and most thorough understanding of your business according to your existing printed catalog or other collateral. All criteria you want assigned to your products online require their own column in the spreadsheet:
- Product Categories and Sub-Categories
- Unique Product Name/Product Number or SKU
- Keywords and Detailed Product Description
- Product Image Name
- Sizes & Colors
- Shipping Options and Fees
Ever comb endlessly and aimlessly through your hard drive for that one family photo you want to print and frame? Nothing is named, nothing is organized, and you’re ready to lose it. Spare your ecommerce developers the same torment.
Label every product photo that will be part of your ecomm system. Establish a consistent and simple labelling formula of words and numbers. Don’t get too cute or carried away with underscores and hyphens. This isn’t just for the sake of your web guy’s sanity; it keeps your ecommerce project on track and on budget.
Getting You Paid
As a small business owner, you’ve swiped your share of credit cards. You know which cards you take and turn away. Your to-do list on the credit card end of ecommerce is a short one:
- Know what credit card associations (Visa/Mastercard etc) you plan to take
- Compile your merchant account info and reach out to your account contact person
When you reach out to your account rep, ask them to establish a “payment gateway.” This makes your account person the gatekeeper between your customer and the credit card company in the payment process.
Order packaging and shipment is another common occurrence in your small business’ day-to-day. Yet again, your preferences simply carry over to your ecommerce system.
The shipping options you offer customers over the phone are plugged into your ecommerce system. It’s your call, from shipping method (USPS, FedEx, UPS) to delivery time (Standard, overnight, 2-day etc).
Considering the potential customers and revenue, you can’t afford to exclude ecommerce to your small business. Think of a successful, profitable ecommerce system as a roadtrip destination. Your web design company is behind the wheel, and you’re supplying the GPS.
There might be some annoying “re-calculating” moments and wrong turns, but if you punch in the correct information, you’ll get there via a relatively smooth trip.