- You must learn the basics of web design, development and SEO to succeed.
- Pick an ecommerce website platform that offers easy integration with eBay and Amazon.
- Hire web designers and use easy web design tools such as Canva for your ideas.
If you are currently running your website, brick and mortar store and/or another sales channel, you are likely to be struggling to do anything else, your stock levels are a nightmare to keep up with and you are probably losing money and customers due to inaccurate stock levels and pricing structure. Not to mention lengthy end of year stocktake. If this sounds like you, keep reading.
Finding the right ecommerce platform
In 2016, before I launched my business, Sassy Organics, we were considering starting an e-commerce store that allowed us endless options such as selling on website, maybe eBay, and possibly other marketplaces like My Shopping. While we did consider Shopify and some of the other web hosting services, Neto was quite unique in terms of what they were offering:
- Web hosting
- eBay integration
- In-store POS
- Inventory management
- Shipping labels
- Reporting and much more
So, we decided to do a 30-day trial and here we are 3 years later. We launched Sassy Organics with only 124 products from 9 different brands. We now have close to 1500 different products from 94 brands and are growing and expanding daily.
We like the fact that adding products is relatively easy and if you encounter any issues, they provide comprehensive support. God knows I’ve spent a lot of time on the phone in the early phase of setting up the business, but the support has always been very professional and helpful.
There are also several templates, which can be used to easily setup a store quickly, however, if you are after something more personal, you can have customised design, for an additional fee. Back in 2016, they offered an in-house custom design service, based on an hourly fee. This has now been outsourced and there is a list of partners that you can select to assist you with design, marketing, SEO or other services. My personal experience dealing with their recommended partners has been great.
As many of you would know, website is an evolving business, always requiring additional tweaks and changes. Since the initial launch, we have undergone 2 major website updates, focusing on customer experience and journey.
I had very little knowledge or understanding of user experience at the time of launching our business. In hindsight, I would have done things differently and at less expense, but you must accept this as a learning experience and move on.
Using web design tools
I am quite creative, and I love design, but I find it hard to express myself in words. Therefore, Canva is my go-to tool for expressing myself and this has helped me tremendously with website changes. Using Canva has enabled me to create a mock-up of the proposed changes, save it as PDF file and email it to our designers for viewing and comments. This has saved us both a lot of headaches and misunderstanding.
I think as the business owner, you know (at least I would hope so) your business best and what gaps you are looking to fill with website tweaks. If you are not using Canva or similar graphic design tools, draw it on the paper and see how it look first. I’ve spent hours and hours making changes before I would commit to any design. Sometimes, you may think that a certain change or even colour would be better, but in reality, this may not be such a great idea.
I highly encourage you to spend some time thinking thoroughly about what you are hoping to achieve and test things before you commit to anything. Website changes are not cheap, and the process may also impact your site, so be mindful of this and plan properly. The last thing that you want is a website change that looks hideous after you’ve spent thousands of dollars. Remember to always plan before you design.
Finding a good web designer can also be tricky. Most work is outsourced overseas, even when companies claim to be Australian. While I am not against outsourcing design work to an overseas provider, be sure to know where you stand if something goes wrong.
For example, if your product catalogue or customer database is wiped out, who is responsible and how do you ensure that any issues will be fixed? Please consider this and ask lots of questions. Ask your potential designers and developers for credentials and examples of previous websites that they have worked on. Don’t be afraid to contact their previous customers. At the end of the day, your priority and focus should be on your business and protecting your business interest.
We have been quite lucky with designers so far and we’ve worked with two neto partners in designing our initial website and making subsequent changes. I can't say the same in relation to some of the other so called 'experts' that we have come across.
Selling and integrating with eBay
The second year into our business, we decided to give eBay a go. Most ecommerce platforms offer eBay integration, which means that you only need to have one inventory and all the product information, including pricing and availability, and they are synched between your ecommerce site and eBay.
With Neto, you can even have different descriptions and pricing for each channel. Listing products and processing orders is all done from within the control panel. The same applies to shipping. Can you imagine what would happen if we tried to have two separate inventories of 1500 products?
Apart from the initial setup, we’ve not had any need to do any more work on eBay, other than list new products, using integrated templates (which clearly map the products to nominated categories). eBay is going well for us and this experience overall has been a happy one.
Selling on Amazon Australia
Sometime last year, Amazon launched in Australia and we were invited to participate in the initial launch. Contrary to eBay integration, Amazon initial setup and integration was quite complex, using excel spreadsheet. Adding products to Amazon catalogues was time consuming and difficult.
Needless to say, we persevered and listed a small number of products using this complex method. More recently, neto completed its full integration with Amazon and adding products to Amazon has never been easier. After the initial category mapping, new products are listed automatically, by only ticking a box - as simple as that. Apart from minor tweaks here and there, Amazon listing is relatively easy.
From our personal experience, Amazon sales is still slow in comparison to eBay, but I trust that this will change. Amazon is relatively new in Australia and it’s natural for consumers to be hesitant at first.
Which is best: eBay vs Amazon?
If you ask me which platform is better to sell on, I would have to say it would depend on the product that you are offering. Do you have more competition on eBay or Amazon? Would you consider using Amazon fulfilment centres? Compare the sales commission for both channels. Finally, get some help, if you are unsure what to do. There is plenty of help out there and you can get professional advice from ecommerce experts.
Most ecommerce website platforms can integrate with My Shopping, Catch and some of the others. They also offer a few add-ons to assist with your marketing and other needs including accounting. One thing I know is, neto integration makes the process seamless and if you do run into a problem, there is a number to call. You will be guided by a support team though every step of the way and if you need the additional help, there a list of partners in every state that will be able to assist.
When it comes to running an omni channel ecommerce business, know that it is a continuous and evolving process. Get comfortable asking questions, especially if something doesn’t feel right. After all, your business is your livelihood.
Make sure you minimise the risk by asking questions and having a good understanding of what you are getting into. Finally, learn (at least the basics) about web design, coding and SEO, so that you have a basic understanding of what the proposal means to you. And know where you stand if things go wrong.
Like in every industry, you will meet talented professional who will help your business flourish. Also, it is likely that you may come across some that you wish you didn’t. In that case, know your rights and work towards the best resolution for your business. Good luck!
This article is in no way sponsored by neto, Canva or any of the other companies mentioned. I simply love sharing my experience with those who are at the beginning of their journey and are looking for some real and genuine feedback, based on their own use and experience.
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