Now we will look at different ways to sell online. It is important to classify various channels of selling online, as each has different requirement in terms of operations and investment.
Since the advent of e-commerce there have always been two avenues of selling online:
Building own website with payment gateway and all the fancy blingy stuff or what I like to call a standalone e-commerce website.
Marketplace where many sellers like yourself are selling their wares and a common party which is the marketplace entity like eBay or Amazon is handling the technology to enable all this and other major parts like getting buyers for you, also logistics in some cases.
For building a standalone website you need some more investment apart from your product inventory, you need to have an inclination to be able to learn and do a little techie geeky stuff (it does not involve any programming or coding) or you need to outsource it to an IT development company.
Tip: DO IT YOURSELF using CloudCarts, its very very easy or if you are a boss kind of a person with an already running business ask someone on your team to do it or get it done from a freelancer but DO NOT outsource. I strongly discourage you from doing that.
Ways to build a standalone website:
- Conventional way has been to buy a domain name, rent a shared server (bluehost maybe, i like it), deploy a shopping cart script like opencart or hottest these days is Magento, install/enable some plugins to add payment gateway and make transaction facility functional, choose a theme of your liking, get some graphics designed for banner and stuff, add products and images etc and start marketing your very own Online Shopping Website! If you need custom functionalities this is where you will need to rent a developer to make changes to the code.
- CloudCarts – These are Software platforms which offer a turnkey solution to start selling online via your own e-commerce site. You simply sign up and pay for the plan which suits your requirements, login to your setup panel and simply add products, select theme and you are ready to go. Its as easy as using your email. For some smaller technicalities these companies will provide you full support and step by step guides for how to use their panel for setup and also how to make the website live and enable payment gateway (which is also readily available on these platforms). There are a lot many of these platforms available today but its important to choose carefully as its a service more than the product itself. Major ones are Shopify which comes with global experience and reach, Zepo and Kartrocket.
Cost comparison: When starting a business, fee of Rs. 24,000/- a year (roughly average price of these platforms) may seem little steep but you will end up spending way more on custom development. If you scale exponentially it may prove difficult to work with a cloud cart which is their primary drawback. Then you should work towards moving to custom deployment when volumes are sustainable. When you start getting sales Rs. 2000/- per month will seem to be cheap for the ready solution these platforms are offering.
Let’s cover marketplaces in the next post.