Is it time for you to e-commerce?

Some guidelines for how to approach selling your products or services online

Partnering with a colleague, I recently presented a webinar to members and guests of the state’s largest chamber of commerce on how small businesses can add e-commerce to help grow revenues.

You can watch the webinar by going to, but we’re happy to summarize the basics if you don’t have an hour to watch the whole webinar.

We’ll start with our general theme of developing e-commerce: keep it simple!

If you and your business are ready for e-commerce to bring you new sources of revenue, here are some point-by-point guidelines to help you start out successfully.

  • E-commerce definition: Commercial transactions conducted electronically on the internet.
  • Why e-commerce? Because you need to conduct business with customers where they are now — online.
  • Your e-commerce goals: More revenue, new customer segments, accelerate growth, business transformation? Let your goals guide your strategy.
  • Are setup and maintenance costs expensive? Expect some additional fees above what a static informational website costs to maintain. Keep your offers simple and use readily available, compatible platforms. This will keep development costs low.
  • Platforms and payment processing: With myriad options for e-commerce platforms (NetSuite, Shopify, WooCommerce, Magento, Ecwid, etc.) and payment integrations, it’s generally best to stick with the popular, proven, most recommended plans for businesses similar to yours. Look at the reviews or talk with experienced consultants.
  • How can you assure success? Simplicity has served merchants since money was invented. The attempt to offer everyone in the world everything your company can do has killed more marketing campaigns than can be counted. Keep it simple and relevant to the target.
  • Limit the scope of your offering when you first launch. Start with your high-demand items. Maybe just one product/service. Limiting choices, especially in the beginning, makes it mentally easier for customers to buy.
  • Build out product categories and options gradually. Gain experience, data and revenue traction with your top sellers to help fuel your online store’s expansion and growth.
  • Use premium photography and video. Be honest! Do your pictures pass the consumer quality test? Would you buy your own product based solely on your pictures and video representations? Invest in your brand — these are valuable and reusable assets!
  • It’s all about the user experience. Simple design, attractive merchandising, limited options and easy transaction processes are the experiences online consumers want. And that makes your job simpler!
  • Think through the logistics. Plan for success. When the orders come in, are you ready to fulfill each one to every customer’s satisfaction? Inventory, size, weight, packaging, shipper, postage/freight calculations, shipping labels, accounting or ERP integration? If a service, how will you schedule sessions or book appointments?
  • How will customers find your online store? E-commerce requires a sufficient volume of targeted traffic or leads that will buy in order to be profitable. Be sure to implement a prelaunch and ongoing lead generation/marketing campaign.
  • Customer generation/e-commerce synergy: A “grand opening” with no customers can be a major letdown. Make sure to have a demand generation campaign in place or already running by the time you launch. Use strategic paid advertising and email marketing to boost your efforts to gain web traffic. Test different offers and dial in your campaigns as you go.

If you have decided to add e-commerce to your business, a free e-commerce planning workbook is available by request. Simply contact us by email or telephone 603-345-7223.

Chuck Sink, a brand consultant, is owner of Chuck Sink Link.

Categories: Business Advice, Marketing & Advertising, Tech Advice