Start Selling Online: The 5 W’s to Get Your Business Up and Running

August 12, 2015


WHY - sell online?

Worldwide B2C ecommerce sales are expected to reach 1.92 trillion U.S. dollars in 2016 and will likely continue growing exponentially.  People can buy everything online now – from fresh groceries to contact lenses – without ever leaving the comfort of their home. 

Even when shoppers decide to make a purchase in-store, 81 per cent conduct online research first.  By deciding to sell online, you can tap into those trillions of dollars in revenue, and get your company in front of shoppers who are browsing online.

You likely already knew why you should enter the world of ecommerce, or you wouldn’t be reading this article.  Keep reading for the remaining “W’s” that outline the essentials for getting your online business up and running.

WHAT - should be on your website? 

The best way to start selling online involves a plan, similar to an overall business plan, but more specifically focused on e-Commerce.  It doesn’t need to be complicated, but it does need to take into account important considerations such as:

  • What products/services are you selling? 
  • Who are your target customers? 
  • How will we deliver the online shopping experience to customers? 
  • What will be your shipping and return policies? 
  • How will you drive visitors to your website? 
  • What type of payments are you willing to accept?
  • How will you protect sensitive data?

Online businesses often begin by worrying about complex issues such shipping profitability or newsletter subscription, but the design and construction of a website itself will be one of the most significant contributing factors to the site’s success.  Create your vision by identifying what the content will be, as well as the site’s overall design and navigation tools.

It’s useful to find a few sites that have architecture or design that appeal to you as a customer.  Find some layouts you like and implement the ideas into your own site strategy.

WHERE - should you market your website?

Having a well thought-out, well executed and easy-to-use website does nothing for your business if you don’t have visitors.  You need to consider where your company needs to be, in order to get in front of potential customers.

Paid advertising is always an option for building brand awareness, but not all companies have the budget.  Try some of the following:

  • Search engine optimization (SEO) is the most cost-effective means for driving awareness of your online business.  There are endless resources on SEO strategizing, so take the time to do a little research and see what you can learn.  Check out Google Keyword Tool for a little help.
  • Social media can help you build a fan base and drum up a following for your business.  Engaging in social media by developing social media sites that point back to your business can help build a network of influencers.
  • Pay-per-click marketing is not a free option, but can be a lower cost choice.  By paying for a search engine result that pertains to your business, you company can appear alongside the non-paid listings on search engines such as Google.  

WHO - should help with closing sales?

Regardless of what you’re selling, customers want a hassle-free payment processing experience to complete their purchase.

You will need to select a payment processing partner who will not only streamline the purchasing process for your customers to make it easy and painless, but also provide exceptional transaction security.

Be sure to do your research a find a partner that will be able to grow with you, whether you are expanding from a brick-and-mortar store, or looking to bring your business on the road and need mobile payment processing.

WHEN - should customers receive their goods?

So you’ve made a sale.  Throw it in a box and send it via the cheapest method possible, right?  Wrong.

While sending out a purchased product may seem like a quick and easy part of the online selling process, it isn’t. Shipping partners such as the FedEx Small Business Center, can help you make various shipping decisions, but you need to consider delivery and timeliness as important an element as the overall business plan itself.

Without researching and understanding the options, a business could end up with high shipping and handling costs that affects overall revenue.  Poorly packed or untimely shipping can result in unhappy customers. 

HOW - should you get everything done?

Nearly all of the above to-dos can be assisted by experts.  Website designers, SEO/marketing experts, and shipping distributors can guide you through each of these important items.  Of course, hiring professionals to assist can cost you more money, so if you decide to hire help, determine what area is most important and invest there.

Most importantly - do research, ask lots of questions and don’t be afraid to make mistakes.  There are many essential tasks, but there is no single “right way” to set up your digital storefront.  Make the decisions that you feel are best for your business.  And remember that the right attitude can make all the difference.


This article is for informational purposes only and it is not intended to provide you with any personalized financial, marketing, accounting or tax advice. Neither Moneris Solutions Corporation (Moneris) nor any of its affiliates shall be liable for any direct, indirect, incidental, consequential or punitive damages arising out of use of any of the information contained in this article. Neither Moneris nor any of its affiliates warrant or make any representation regarding the use or the results of the use of the information, content and materials contained in this article in terms of their correctness, accuracy, reliability or otherwise.

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