Website Design and Shopping Cart Services
The first major task that any e-commerce business must contend with is setting up a user-friendly website. There are numerous e-commerce platforms and shopping cart programs which allow you to do this using an all-in-one package. Open source e-commerce tools or software often features secure web hosting, domain name registration, content management systems, and web design templates. They also allow you to enable payments on your website, using multiple payment gateways. Some of the big names in shopping cart services include Bigcommerce, Shopify, and Pinnacle Cart.
Keyword Research Tools
Google offers numerous analytical tools which can be of great use to e-commerce businesses. You can use their Keyword Tool to research the volume of specific keywords or phrases. This allows you to find out how many potential customers are searching for words related to your products, which can give you some indication of the market size. This information can also help you find out how competitive certain search terms are, which allows you to work out an SEO strategy. Another useful research tool put out by Google is Google Trends, which lets you find out whether your products or industry is more of a fad, or a growing market. This can help you with basic market research without hiring a separate consultant.
Market Research Tools
As you research your potential market, you will also want to find out how competitors in the same industry are doing. Using tools like Alexa.com allows you to see visitor demographics from similar websites, which can help you narrow down your target market. You can also use online tools to help you price your items more effectively. Alibaba.com allows you to search for wholesale items, to find out what their base rate is. You can compare this to competitor prices to get a feel for what a reasonable mark-up would be.
Shipping can be one of the biggest logistical issues and costs for a new e-commerce business to work through. One solution is to sign up with a drop ship business. Essentially, this allows you to advertise the products of your choice on your website and then leave the actual shipping in the hands of the wholesaler. It eliminates the need to hold onto inventory and deal with shipping.