Setting up a new online small business

orraloon
orraloon Posts: 12,667
edited January 2019 in The cake stop
Any pointers / advice / guidance from the community will be appreciated.

Mrs O took (very) early retirement from the life corporate with a reasonable bye bye bung 2 years ago. Now she is getting bored, so has come up with an idea for an online selling business. She is well into the creative side, the sourcing, branding, selling etc. I've said I'll take a look for her at the back office stuff, the order processing, payments, shipping, accounting systems side.

Plethora of stuff available. Does anyone have any experience or recommendations, pro or con, on the one stop package options, or indeed on the relative merits of products / services supporting discrete elements of taking an order via a website, taking the payment and shipping the goods?

Thanks in advance.

Comments

  • morstar
    morstar Posts: 6,190
    edited January 2019
    No direct experience myself but I do work in ERP system consultancy for SME's where a web presence is often part of a project and a team of web designers/developers is not part and parcel of the organisation.

    Magento is THE go to platform for a SME web presence. I have no idea if their rates are realistic for your scale but it will definitely be a robust and scalable platform if things grow.
  • Pross
    Pross Posts: 40,441
    Would it be worth starting out simply using Amazon Marketplace then developing something more long term if the business takes off?
  • orraloon
    orraloon Posts: 12,667
    Thanks for the responses. Starting point might lie somewhere between Amazon at the more box shifting end and Magento at the full on, latter might be too big and expensive for start up where don't know if idea will fly.

    Might be something like Wix or equivalent, as she wants to market a brand as well as move product plus some add on services.

    Lot of research work heading my way.
  • mr_goo
    mr_goo Posts: 3,770
    Once you sort out a website you need to have a Google feedback section. The more customers you get to give positive feedback the more you climb the rankings.
    If you Google any product you'll notice that the first 3 are now tagged Ad. This is due to Google feedback. It used to be 6 but now halved.
    Always be yourself, unless you can be Aaron Rodgers....Then always be Aaron Rodgers.
  • Monty Dog
    Monty Dog Posts: 20,614
    I took redundancy last April and since then have been endeavouring to set-up my own online business selling products we design and make ourselves. We use Shopify as our e-commerce platform plus we have a couple of Etsy stores. Biggest issue is driving to traffic to our stores - the back-office and fulfilment is easy in comparison.

    If you are a "me too" business where don't have something unique that makes you different, then it's going to be very hard because basically it's down to price and you won't believe how little money some people are prepared to sell stuff on eBay for piss-poor margins, particularly if you're selling someone else' product / easy to copy. If you can't sustain a selling price at least 2-3x your costs, it's going to be difficult to make any money.

    Everyone takes their slice off the top of your earnings - commerce fees / PayPal. If sending stuff, postage and packaging can be huge and you can't take any margin on delivery charges.

    Facebook and other social media is very poor at driving sales - spending money on FB ads is frankly a waste of money as they're not targeted enough. On average you'll make 1-3 sales for 100 visitors to your website. To get 100 visitors your need at least 1,000 people to like you, and probably at least a 'reach' of 10,000 to see you ad. Scaling-up / driving traffic is the hardest thing unless you're planning on spending £££ on advertising.

    If there was one piece of advise is to start small and test your idea without making a big commitment in terms of products and costs - Etsy costs nothing to start with - see if people will actually buy your stuff is far more important than the well-meant feedback you get from friends and family.
    Make mine an Italian, with Campagnolo on the side..
  • slowmart
    slowmart Posts: 4,480
    Get the foot fall to your site and everything else will follow.


    As for managing the end to end process of taking an order, payment, generating an internal document for specs, quantities and delivery address may be best handled manually at first. I appreciate it’s not sexy and isn’t something you want to shout about but it works and gets you immersed in the granular detail of a live sales environment and most importantly how you can lean and de risk the end to end process.

    Whatever your thinking on how it will work will need to be revisited in the near future which means any upfront costs of coding, api feeds and patching are best left until you have a more informed view of building a scalable solution which works. Simple is best and off the shelf solutions are a cost effective platform but can come with downsides in that they don’t offer bespoke flexibility.

    Best wishes
    “Give a man a fish and feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and feed him for a lifetime. Teach a man to cycle and he will realize fishing is stupid and boring”

    Desmond Tutu
  • bianchimoon
    bianchimoon Posts: 3,942
    Mr Goo wrote:
    Once you sort out a website you need to have a Google feedback section. The more customers you get to give positive feedback the more you climb the rankings.
    If you Google any product you'll notice that the first 3 are now tagged Ad. This is due to Google feedback. It used to be 6 but now halved.
    Am I misunderstanding this? the Google search places 3 ads at the top of the search [Ad] , because people/advertisers have paid for click advertising not due to any feedback?
    All lies and jest..still a man hears what he wants to hear and disregards the rest....
  • mr_goo
    mr_goo Posts: 3,770
    Mr Goo wrote:
    Once you sort out a website you need to have a Google feedback section. The more customers you get to give positive feedback the more you climb the rankings.
    If you Google any product you'll notice that the first 3 are now tagged Ad. This is due to Google feedback. It used to be 6 but now halved.
    Am I misunderstanding this? the Google search places 3 ads at the top of the search [Ad] , because people/advertisers have paid for click advertising not due to any feedback?

    Don't know how it works exactly. Was told of it by a Web/App developer. I understood it as you encouraged online shoppers and visitors to site to complete a feedback which is linked to Google. And only the positive ones get through as the negatives can get filtered out for customer services to deal with.
    I guess like all digital info. It can be manipulated to suit.
    Always be yourself, unless you can be Aaron Rodgers....Then always be Aaron Rodgers.
  • Mr Goo wrote:
    Mr Goo wrote:
    Once you sort out a website you need to have a Google feedback section. The more customers you get to give positive feedback the more you climb the rankings.
    If you Google any product you'll notice that the first 3 are now tagged Ad. This is due to Google feedback. It used to be 6 but now halved.
    Am I misunderstanding this? the Google search places 3 ads at the top of the search [Ad] , because people/advertisers have paid for click advertising not due to any feedback?

    Don't know how it works exactly. Was told of it by a Web/App developer. I understood it as you encouraged online shoppers and visitors to site to complete a feedback which is linked to Google. And only the positive ones get through as the negatives can get filtered out for customer services to deal with.
    I guess like all digital info. It can be manipulated to suit.

    I may we’ll be misunderstanding (very likely) but the top listings with “ad” next to them are paid for ads.

    Something like 80% of searchers never look at page two so page one really is the holy grail. There are of course thousands of possible search terms all with different listings. I don’t want to be negative but would not base my business plan on driving traffic through natural search. Also beware snake oil salesmen like the “feedback” chap above.

    Start on eBay or Amazon
  • morstar
    morstar Posts: 6,190
    I was on site with a small, young and rapidly growing online business on Tuesday. They were saying how their website appears top of searches for certain types of product consistently despite a very low rate of new content additions.
    They have focussed on a very core niche and are rapidly establishing themselves as a leader in their field.
    A strong USP and focus can clearly pay dividends in driving web traffic.
  • orraloon
    orraloon Posts: 12,667
    Thanks again for the info and suggestions.

    (This is for me a bit like going back in time and forward in time at the same time, if you follow my drift. Back in the day 90s and early 00s I worked in managing implementations of ERPs of the AS400 platformed type in several large multinationals, until I got v bored of all that and became a landscape gardener instead. Scale and technology of this new initiative are different, objectives similar.)

    The business idea is very focused, clear differentiated branding, product based but with follow on into services. We do have some amateur level experiences in social media marketing, SEO etc, but a lot more to learn. Son #1 has got on board on that front.

    Indeed looking at start simple but be able to scale without too much rework. Been looking at Shopify and understand the cost components. View is with the branding, niche nature and personalisation, own website better than Amazon or eBay box shifting.

    Anyone used Wix for the front end website through to payments and order processing? (Though the back end stuff after the payment stage may well follow on later as business volumes (hopefully) ramp up).

    As before, any thoughts or experiences useful to take on board.

    (An interesting winter diversion for a landscape gardener 8) )