Preparing to open an on-line store - FAQ
Frequently asked questions about the implementation process.
Why are you so inexpensive, what's the catch?
Thanks to automation of many processes, simultaneous provision of services as well as high efficiency, reliability and scalability of our solutions, we were able to cut the costs of maintaining an on-line store to the lowest possible level.
Being provided with the technical know-how, free web hosting and email boxes etc., you are saving both your money and time. The most important thing is that you get peace and quiet to conduct your business. More than five years of experience in the field of automated customer service have been vented into IdoSell.com system that you can order from us. There is no catch, and all charges are included in the price list.
What questions should I ask myself before opening an on-line store?
Here is a list of questions intended for the customers planning to open an Internet shop. The answers to these questions may be also useful for our graphic designers preparing the design of your shop.
- How many products will be available in the stock, and how many of them will be ordered with just-in-time method?
- What will the process of ordering the products from the supplier look like? How much time will it take to get the products? What is the probability of not getting the ordered products? How big are the series of goods ordered or manufactured by a supplier? How often do the prices and products availability change at the suppliers?
- What shipping methods will you offer to your customers? How much will they cost? Will a product delivered this way still be in good condition?
- What is the risk of a customer replacing a product with another one? What is the risk of a customer making a return of the product (i.e. shoes that not fit)? How are you going to deal with the complaints and what are the corresponding costs and risks? What policy will you apply in this case (i.e. is a customer going to pay for the delivery)?
- What kind of information regarding a product do you want to include? Have you prepared any draft descriptions? How big is the text description? What is the average number of pictures you want to display? Are you going to get the pictures from the supplier, or will you have to make them by yourself? What other information would be necessary in order to convince a customer to make a purchase (i.e. a technical specification, warranty, product series)?
- Have you done any research or analysis (preferably verified among outside observers) regarding the criteria that potential customers would like to use to find products in the store? Do product descriptions correspond with this analysis? How many products will be offered for sale? Is the navigation fitted to the size of a shop?
- How many new products will you be adding? How often do the collections change?
- To what extent are your products attractive to customers? Are they demanded products or do you wish to convince customers to buy them?
- What is the social profile of your customer going to look like? What other customers will be visiting your e-shop?
- How big is the group of potential customers and how much do they spend on Internet shopping? How much can they buy eventually?
- What pricing and discount policies are you going to adopt? - A proper on-line selling platform lets you run over a dozen discount scenarios but it doesn't mean you have to use them all.
- Will you offer your products to wholesalers or corporate clients? How will these offers differ from the retail-ons? What sort of additional information about a product do you need to provide?
- Do you want to concentrate your efforts on a narrow range of products (i.e. products from a single producer, one line of business) or do you wish to sell lots of different products?
- Have you already planned how to attract customers to your shop? Is this promotional tool being used by your competitors?
- Does the planned graphic design of your on-line store correspond with the profile of potential customers?
- What would be a good name for your Internet shop? What domain do you want to order? Which words should be used to position your web pages in the major search engines? Are the: name of the store, the domain and keywords a cohesive mechanism by means of which it is easy to find basic products?
- Does it make sense for you to be present with your offer on price comparison sites?
- Will you advertise your products outside the Internet? If so, which advertising techniques are you going to use? Will they help you reach the target group?
- What other promotion methods can be applied (considering all of them is senseless)?
- In what way and using what parameters would the effectiveness of your promotion efforts be measured?
- Do your promotion efforts correspond with the size of your offer?
- Opportunities and possible threats analysis:
- What main factors can pose a threat to you, after having your online store implemented?
- How many competitors do you have, and in what aspects are they better or worse than you? How strong are your competitors and how high is their price elasticity? Is there a real risk of a tycoon entering this segment of the market?
- Why should customers choose you instead of your competitor (a frank reply - because they have confused the name of our competitors' store, also makes sense)?
- Do you have enough money to start an Internet shop? Where would you find additional funds? What are the sources of your start-up capital? How long can you run your business without making profits?
- Do you have access to external capital sources if the sales start to grow?
- What can still be done with your shop if the sales don't match your expectations?
- How much can you earn on a single product? When do you expect to reach your break-even point?
- What fixed costs will you have to bear? How much will be each delivery cost? How long will it take to handle a single order? How much will it cost to handle an order?
What do I need to launch my shop with IdoSell.com?
Assuming that you are an entrepreneur running a company, you will need:
- a computer and a web browser,
- a bank account.
Other helpful things are:
- an own domain,
- a printer (laser would be preferable),
- a digital camera in case you don't have direct access to the photos taken by the product producer/supplier,
- a photo editingg software (some of them are available for free together with a digital camera),
- a fixed Internet connection (you don't need to have a static IP address),
- a phone (stationary or mobile),
- an agreement with a courier company or the Royal Mail that will let you lower delivery costs,
- an agreement with a company processing credit card payments.
Basically, the above list mentions all necessary things. As an absolute minimum to operate properly, you should have some space to handle mail-order sale, a computer with the Internet access and much of enthusiasm. Most operations are carried out automatically, so - initially - you can run the store in your free time. As your business expands, you can think of employing extra staff or buying new equipment.
Is running an on-line store profitable?
According to statistics prepared by the U.S. company, Jupiter, e-commerce market (which began with E-Bay in 1995) is considered to be a significant source of income for companies such as yours. In many cases it is the only source of income.
The number of Internet users shopping on-line has increased by over 30% over the last two years. It is estimated that every year over 100 million Europeans buy some products on-line. The value of a European e-commerce market amounted to 50 billion of euros in 2004, and since then it has increased several times.
Just as e-mail has revolutionized the way we communicate all over the world, on-line stores will help you to reach customers - who are unfamiliar with your offer - in a quick and effective way. IdoSell.com offers years of experience in running on-line stores.
What sets us apart from our competitors? We know how to run an Internet shop.
Can IAI run an on-line store for me, for example by entering products into a database or serving the customers?
IAI does not deal with data entry and direct handling an on-line store. This is due to physical limitations that could be encountered when trying to perform those tasks for hundreds of clients. Our company aims at offering uniform rules and the same range of services to all customers. In order to keep the market diverse, we have decided not to support on-line stores in terms of marketing, promotion and everyday running of business.
If you wish to find a suitable company to run your on-line store, we suggest one of the following solutions:
- publishing a job offer in the local media,
- finding a proper company by using a search engine (i.e. Google). On the one hand, you will still have a full control of your system, domain and data, but on the other - you will avoid all technical issues that can show up in time. This solution could be pretty expensive though, since the charges for such services are usually calculated on the percentage-based commission.
Please note that when you have your Internet shop up and running, daily handling of IdoSell.com doesn't take a lot of time. For this reason, the best solution is to learn the system on your own. If you experience any difficulties or problems, please contact our technical support team. The contact with our technical support is unlimited and absolutely free of charge.
Can I feel secure after renting the IdoSell.com service?
It requires a lot of experience and knowledge to install, configure and maintain a sophisticated on-line selling system on your own. Our employees specialize only in serving customers running businesses based on web technologies. You are much safer, because you don't have to administer the software yourself and only several people can access it. The team responsible for software and system security, as well as data confidentiality, is subject to privacy and security policy. That is why we can recommend IdoSell.com as a remedy for the current security problems.
Is being a VAT payer worth considering while running an on-line store?
To be or not to be a VAT payer, that's the question. Many people starting their on-line stores ask this question. They calculate whether it would pay off or not. Obviously, you can start your Internet shop as a non-VAT payer and become a VAT payer as soon as you reach a certain turnover. However, many customers, especially from the European Union, want to receive VAT invoices (because they want to pay taxes in their own countries - sometimes because of the tax differences). Lack of such feature will result in losing corporate clients. Moreover, some customers could have some doubts about an e-shop not issuing VAT invoices. You will also not be able to reclaim VAT on business expenditures. For these reasons, considering not to be a VAT payer is pointless.