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When some hear the word ecommerce, they think coding and back away. It can be hard to trust a web designer to build your small business ecommerce site when you don’t know how it all works. 

It’s kind of like buying a car when you don’t know what a carburetor is. It is great that you can hire someone to change the oil, but it’s also hard to know whether you can trust that person when they say you need a new exhaust fan. 

Many small businesses are turning to ecommerce platforms to bring their businesses online. This is more like the latest electric cars. You may not understand how it all works, but you should be able to trust it to get you where you want to go. Talking to other small businesses and checking out reviews can help, but your business is unique. 

This article will walk you through the fundamentals. We’re going to share what to think about as you take your business into small business ecommerce.

Small Business Ecommerce and What to Consider as You Move Online

1. Should you start selling online?
2. How much does it cost to build a website for a small business?
3. Can you stay true to your brand?
4. Small business ecommerce isn’t just about technology
5. Ecommerce SEO
6. Integrations
7. Small business finance before and after you go online
8. The latest trends in small business ecommerce
9. Will small business ecommerce help my business grow?

A baker looking at a tablet as his small business adds ecommerce

Should you start selling online?

In the current small business landscape, it is more urgent every year to add ecommerce. Over 9,000 major retail establishments closed in 2019, while ecommerce continues to show inspiring growth. 

There are many ways to grow a business online. We’re here to help prepare your small business for the new technologies you’ll need.

How much does it cost to build a website for a small business?

Your goal is to improve your bottom line, not make things harder. So, you’ll want to think about how much of an investment you want to make before going online. The best ecommerce platforms will give you a chance to try the platform for free, without a credit card. 

It’s a good idea to plan before your free trial to make the most of it. It’s easy to get lost in the fun and challenges of building a site. Without some planning, you may lose sight of the impact different ecommerce features will have on your business.

Read more: Advanced Ecommerce Features: Choose the Right Selz Plan for You

Another tip⁠—When you’re ready to go online, choose a budget and stick with it for the first year. As you go through that year, take detailed notes on extra features that could simplify your business processes. 

Before you hit go you’ll also want to do an assessment of your current tech stack. Look for an ecommerce platform with features that let you and your team do multiple business processes from a single dashboard. Your team will be more efficient if they have fewer log-ins and less tech training and updates to worry about. Consolidating in this way will also make it easier to maintain your business as it grows.

A business woman working when she has time - evidence that she's making things happen for her small business

Can you stay true to your brand?

Some businesses think they need to change everything to succeed online, but it isn’t true. It took years to build your brand and it shouldn’t change when you start selling online. 

Many small businesses go online thinking their site needs to match everyone else. Others follow a trendy template, but you really want your site to look and feel like your brand.  

There is one exemption to this. Don’t forget about product photography! Now more than ever product photos are important. They shouldn’t just be gorgeous, they should make your product stand out. Try using complementary colors to help your product pop on screen. 

If you sell physical products, always shoot your products in a white background, especially if you want to try Google Shopping ads or sell on Facebook. It is tougher to edit photos after the fact, so if you only have time to shoot on one background, make it white. A white background makes it easy to play with other backgrounds in a tool like Photoshop later.

Once they see your great product pics, most of your customers will care more about how easy it is to find your products online than how your site looks.

User experience is king

Don’t underestimate the importance of your user experience. Customers pay attention to how fast your site loads (most will bail in three seconds or less if your site doesn’t load). 

Whether shoppers can view your ecommerce site on mobile is key. Mobile is where shoppers research, review, and purchase products, and more are shopping on mobile every year.

The experience of your users when they’re trying to check out or find a specific product on your site is also important. Check out this link to learn what you should think about to assess user experience as go into small business ecommerce.

If UX isn’t on your radar yet, it boils down to this: you want customers to trust your business. If you develop trust, they will keep coming back for more and spread the word about your products to friends and family. 

In person cutomer experience of a small business as they decide whether to go into ecommerce

Small business ecommerce isn’t just about technology

Most new business ventures don’t fail because of technology or a lack of hard work. What is the hardest thing about selling online? It’s the same thing you had to learn when you got your small business off the ground. You have to learn how to sell. 

Your selling skills will be your best tool when you dive into small business ecommerce. 

In some ways, it may feel like starting from the beginning. You will need to show and remind your most loyal customers that you’re online. You’ll need to ask for their support for early reviews. You may even need to add asks for likes and comments if you don’t already have active social media accounts for your business.

Keep at it. You already have a formula for success.

Ecommerce SEO

Another important aspect of ecommerce is SEO. Search engine optimization makes it easier for customers who don’t know you yet to find your products online.

These are some great guides if you want to learn how to do SEO on your own from these trusted resources:

FounderU
Moz
Backlinko
Search Engine Land

SEO isn’t easy and Selz offers a free SEO audit, as well as ecommerce SEO services.

You may also want to look at help with paid advertising. An expert who understands the best keywords in your niche is super valuable as you embark on your online voyage.

Read more: It’s Not SEO Magic: 3 Ways to Improve Your Site for Search

Integrations

What technology does your business currently use? Does your small business dedicate resources to tech for finance and accounting? What about a CRM for customer management? HR software, tools for digital marketing and email⁠—all of these integrations are important in small business ecommerce. Integrations are what will keep things simple and streamlined.

The wallet symbolizes small business finance and the fine line between personal and business finances for many small businesses

Small business finance before and after you go online

One of the most important things to decide before you launch online is when to start a more formal accounting process

You may track your spending and income, sales and taxes, with Excel or Google Sheets right now. If your sales start to take off online or if you’re planning for growth that system won’t work for long. 

Many small business processes that work great on a small scale are miserable and time-consuming when sales pick up. This can create panic. Stress skyrockets when a business puts inefficient systems in place too quickly. It may seem like a good fix, but it’s tough when you mix accounting issues with hiring the wrong person or installing software that’s too complex.

Read more:

Profit First for budgeting tips
Simple Numbers for business finance
Small Business Accounting: How to Optimize Your Small Business Budget
Find your local SBA office for classes on basic business
Basic business workshops online

A simple way to organize your finances early on is to integrate your accounting platform and your ecommerce platform. Selz integrates with the following platforms via Zapier, and has direct integrations with these popular accounting platforms:

Quickbooks Online
Xero
MYOB Account Right
FreshBooks
Saasu
Sage Business Accounting – EEMEA
Sage Business Accounting – Global

Accounting software can simplify:

Cash flow

It is tricky to track every bill or payment and how schedules and transactions might overlap. You need to let your employees and suppliers know when they will get paid in an accurate and consistent way.

Inventory 

Over-ordering means you might be spending more on materials than you need to. Under-ordering can mean delays and has a negative impact on customer satisfaction. If you sell more than one or two physical products you may need more than an automation to track orders and fulfillment.

Profit and loss

Is it easy for your business to track how much you earn against how much you spend to produce each of your products? What about overall?

You want to track this data to catch the spots in your supply chain, checkout and delivery where you’re losing money. 

Sales tax 

You’re familiar with your local laws and tax requirements. When you go online, laws in different countries (and states!) vary dramatically. When it comes to sales tax, you want a tool to take care of crucial calculations for you, saving time and money.

Again, technology is sometimes daunting. If you need help there are online experts who can assist with the setup, but for many, it’s really easy.

Is it worth it?

It can be tricky for a small business to rationalize any added expense. It can seem like a lot when you’re looking into small business ecommerce expansion. 

Many accounting platforms offer a free trial that can help you determine whether the investment is worth the additional income it will bring to your business.

Read more: Bookkeeping 101: Accounting Vocabulary for Small Businesses

A man working diligently on a train a sure sign that someone has made the plunge into small business ecommerce with this article from Selz ecommerce for growing businesses

Social media can make it seem like every niche and product is here today and gone tomorrow. But jumping on a trend will only take your business so far when you move into small business ecommerce. 

Getting up to date on a trend right away could bring a temporary bump in your brand awareness. These trends shouldn’t be at the center of your business or product selection when you start selling online.

That said, it is important to watch ecommerce trends as they develop over time. Shifts in retail are happening in part because it is hard for large businesses to change as fast as customer perception does.

Will ecommerce solutions for small business help my business grow?

How you approach going online will have an enormous impact on how well it will do for you. A business that worked in the 1970s may not thrive in 2020, and popular jobs today may not exist in the future

At the same time, the digital revolution has opened the door to thousands of new small businesses. There are new chances to solve problems for customers, including the apps we use on our phones each day. 

Selz log in from Selz ecommerce for business growth

Ecommerce makes it easier to connect with complementary businesses that your audience loves. It gives you new ways to support the efforts of those businesses. Ecommerce can improve your profits and your ROI.

Some other things to think about as you choose an ecommerce platform and move online in terms of  growth include:

  • What kind of products you sell (services, physical products, or digital products)
  • How many products you want to sell
  • How attached you are to your current business processes
  • How comfortable you are with maintaining and updating your site and product listings

You can sell online without changing the way you run your business

As you read the last paragraph of this article you may feel like small business ecommerce is too much to do on your own. That’s where we can help. We offer a plan that can take care of the work for you. Our Do It For Me plan eliminates the hassles of going online. You’ll have a dedicated account manager who will help you bring your authentic business to life with a new ecommerce site. Our experts can help you choose and set up different channels for multichannel selling. 

Ecommerce is a vital channel for your business and if you’re reading this, you want to get started soon. Request a callback from our team today.

About the author

Jana Rumberger

Jana is a writer and Content Manager at Selz. She has expertise in ecommerce strategy, selling products online, and small business solutions. Jana combines diverse experience in education, design, and manufacturing to craft engaging content.

In addition to her writing, she is a visual artist and foodie in Portland, Oregon.