We sat down with our Technical Director, Rick North and asked him a few questions around e-commerce websites and this is what he had to say.
What are some misconceptions around E-Commerce websites?
The two biggest misconceptions that we come across is firstly, that an e-commerce website runs itself. It doesn’t. There is maintenance that needs to happen in the back end and that all depends on the platform you’re using. If you’re using WordPress for example, there needs to be updates on plugins, you need manage your stock control and process your orders, so it’s definitely not a set and forget, which a lot of people think.
The second one is, people think that the moment they have a store online that people are just going to magically find it, which is also not the case. It’s like building a brick-and-mortar store with no signage and where no one knows about it. You need to tell people about it, show them how to find it, and advertise your products. People think e-commerce websites just go up into the cloud and magically the sales will start coming in, but unfortunately, you have to work on both marketing it and maintaining & managing it on an ongoing basis.
What type of stock systems or processes do you need to have in place in your business to have an e-commerce store?
You can pretty much use any website you want, provided it supports e-commerce functionality, whether it be a WordPress website with plugins like WooCommerce and there’s also standalone offerings or platforms such as Wix and Shopify. It all depends on how you want to have your website built what sort of technology it’s run on. Not to forget that your e-commerce websites will also need a payment gateway like PayFast or PayPal.
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What type of budget do you need to set up the e-commerce site?
Anything from the R10 000/R15 000 upwards, depending on how involved and how many products and categories you need to have. If you’ve got a lot of products and functionality, you need to consider things such as – is it going to run autonomously by itself and run separate from your stock management on-site or does it need to be integrated? What sort of functionality do you need for products, services, or subscriptions. So, there’s a lot of factors involved, but basically it all depends on how big you need the site to be and what it needs to do.
What does the future of e-commerce look like?
It’s going to be easier to buy. The more people are staying at home, online shopping has increased.
Places like Shopify do make it pretty easy to shop, with limitations. At the moment, if you integrate your online shop to Facebook when you want to purchase something through Facebook, it redirects you back to your website and you carry on with the purchase through your website. But something cool that Facebook’s been working on and testing in the USA (it hasn’t rolled out in South Africa yet) is that it is implementing functionality that you can actually buy and load your credit card details into Facebook and actually purchase straight from there and there will be some sort of comm structure that you’ll pay Facebook. Kind of like how Amazon works at the moment and Takealot. Yeah, so that’s pretty cool. It’s going to make it a lot easier for guys to sell stuff.