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Is E-Commerce Right for My Business? Everything You Need to Know

October 2019
 minute read
online shopping for valentines day surrounded by chocolates and gifts

All businesses have to start somewhere. Amazon and Apple were once one-man operations in garages. Real estate mogul and Shark Barbara Corcoran turned a $1000 loan into a billion-dollar empire. And us at Responsival? Our CEO slept in a sleeping bag on the floor of an active worksite loft, drywalling between websites and business meetings. True story (proof at the bottom of the page).

Getting off the ground is tough (ask out CEO who slept on the floor for several months), and knowing which path is right for your business is a confusing number of questions and involves a high level of uncertainty. Should you attend trade shows? Rent a storefront? Sell online? The opportunities are limitless, which in this case is not a good thing.

It can be hard to decide whether or not your business is ready to sell online, which is why Responsival - the leading name for website design in Pittsburgh - is here to break down everything you need to know when deciding to sell online. We’ll start by making the decision to sell online, break down how to start your e-commerce business, and show you great examples of e-commerce websites for inspiration.

Should I Sell My Products Online?

The experts of website design in Pittsburgh help you decide if e-commerce is right for you

man fulfilling online orders

Deciding whether or not e-commerce is right for your business is a tough decision to make. E-commerce, for many businesses, is the best way to inspire growth and keep overhead costs low. However, it’s not right for everyone. There’s no clear-cut line that separated businesses that are well-primed for e-commerce from those who aren’t. Savvy business owners, though, tend to have a good sense of the direction they want to go with their businesses.

It’s a fact that all businesses need a website. More than 80% of consumers research products online before purchasing anything and a website allows you to control the narrative about your business. With this many consumers already online, it makes sense for every business - large and small - to sell their goods online, right?

Not quite. Selling online is entirely dependent on the stage of your business, your industry, and your audience. Let’s break down a few scenarios:

  • You’re a brand-new business selling a unique product. Your product isn’t tied to a specific locality and you want to get the word out fast to a number of different markets. E-commerce is great for you because of relatively low startup costs and the ability to reach customers all across the nation (and the globe!).
  • You’re a new business selling a variety of goods, like a boutique. With businesses like this, it’s hard to differentiate yourself early on. It’s best to stick with a localized storefront if the goods aren’t all unique to your business. Once you’re big and successful, then it’s time to start considering e-commerce for your business.
  • Your business is locally-based, like a Pittsburgh gift shop. These businesses are often best left to a localized storefront. However, savvy business owners often know how to. turn localized specialty businesses into e-commerce Cinderella stories.
  • Your business has a storefront and wants to begin to expand. If your business is thriving and you feel it’s time to try e-commerce, you’re probably in a good position to get started with selling online.

While choosing to start e-commerce is a case-by-case decision, these decisions are often cost-driven. For a new business, e-commerce keeps overhead low, but more money will need to be put into marketing dollars. On the contrary, a business with an existing storefront may not benefit as much from an e-commerce business as they think. However, e-commerce does create a new channel for revenue -- so if you have the ability to expand to e-commerce, you should definitely consider it.

E-commerce websites are more expensive to design and host than a traditional website due to the amount of complexity involved. The platforms cost more and transactions are multi-step processes that often need oversight from a company specializing in website design, adding an additional expense for business with a number of existing expenses.

All-in-all, deciding to sell online is a big decision. As a business owner, do your research, talk to peers, and make the decision you think is going to help your business thrive. If it’s not the time yet, Responsival is here to help you gear up for selling online.

How do I Start an E-Commerce Business?

The experts at Responsival are here to outline your first steps

flower shop owner on a laptop

If you’ve decided to begin your e-commerce journey, we are excited to work with you and your business! There are a few steps involved in getting started - some of which you may have already accomplished - which include:

  1. Solidify Merchandise. Before getting started, choose your products, complete order, and obtain your product. Pay close attention to your time and cost of attainment for each product so that you can set your pricepoint appropriately. If you’re an existing business with inventory, this process is already completed.
  2. Research Your Competition. Next, It’s extremely important to learn your market. Nothing can lead to more mistakes as a business owner than not having the right knowledge about your market, your competitors, or a clear sense of what makes your business different. A great way to learn all the necessary information to help you grow is to complete a digital marketing assessment with Responsival.
  3. Set Up Your Business. Next, it’s time to define yourself as a business. Solidify your name, logo, and other portions of your brand identity. While you don’t need to legally become a business or LLC in the eyes of the law to start selling online, it’s best to define yourself as a business as soon as possible to prevent the intermixing of personal and business funds.
  4. Build Your E-Commerce Website. Next, the fun begins! Start working with the leader of a design agency to get your e-commerce site off the ground. We’ll start with walking through design inspiration (see below), talk about the right e-commerce platform for you, and create your website until you’re primed to sell online safely, effectively, and with your customer’s journey in mind.
  5. Launch & Market. Once your site is live, it’s time to begin marketing your products. Responsival is a leader in digital marketing Pittsburgh and can help you run social media ads, create an organic social media plan, build a content strategy that boosts your SEO, and more.

E-Commerce Inspiration from Industry Leaders

Looking to Get Started with your e-commerce site? Responsival is a leader in making beautiful, responsive e-commerce sites for businesses of all sizes and across all industries. Check out some of our favorites for design inspiration!

Cookie DŌ

cookie do nyc's website

Cookie DŌ NYC is an edible cookie dough company based in New York City. Responsival helped Cookie DŌ thrive by opening up the opportunity to sell online and ship nationwide. We developed a custom package builder full of fun animations and the ability to sort through gluten-free and vegan options. This way, not only are Cookie DŌ customers able to enjoy edible cookie dough from across the nation, but they can do it easily and with an incredible amount of customizability.

Standard Wax 

standard wax's website homepage
standard wax's candle ordering page

Standard Wax is an e-commerce company that allows customers to create custom candles online. Their website allows users to choose their candle vessel, lid, label, fragrance, and more, designing the perfect candle for any occasion. The e-commerce interface is super easy to use, allowing Standard Wax to set themselves apart from competitors and maximize online sales.

Mark Albert Boots

mark albert boots' homepage

Mark Albert Boots is a heritage boot and leather company based in rural Pennsylvania. Mark Albert Boots wanted a way to boost sales directly from the factory to the consumer, so Responsival created a simple, modern e-commerce website that allows for expansion and bountiful growth for this small yet unique company.

Ready to begin your e-commerce journey? Contact Responsival - the leader in website design in Pittsburgh - today to get started as we help you every step of the way.

air mattress on a dirty floor
young man picking up drywall

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