So you want to sell things on a website, check out some local ranking factors. This can be a fantastic business venture, if you have all your ducks in a row. Before you embark on creating an eCommerce website, you should really have the following nailed down:

1. Will you be keeping stock? Or Drop-shipping?

Is what you’re selling something you’ll have on hand? If so, you’ll want your website to have inventory control, so that someone doesn’t order a product you can’t ship immediately (more details at

With drop-shipping, you’ll want a seamless as possible way to get your order from your website to the manufacturer – to eventually make money as a drop shipper.

2. How will you ship? And what will you charge?

This is usually the biggest issue with ecommerce. You have several options.

  • Free Shipping. This is the easiest because not only is there no additional calculation, but the words “FREE SHIPPING” are very attractive to potential buyers. This also gives you the leverage as to how you ship. USPS Priority Shipping is usually adequate, and the costs are the same if you ship 1 mile from your location, or across the country.
  • 3rd Party Options – You could tie in UPS and FedEx and get exact shipping costs for these carriers based on the buyer’s zip code. The only downside is that you might have to buy additional software subscriptions to integrate this into your web store.
  • Percentage of Sale – You could calculate shipping costs as a percentage (%) of the total sales. Some do this, though not everyone finds it to be fair, especially if the weight varies of the products.
  • Flat Rate Shipping – Again, easy. Example: $5.00 S/H per item. Now, a complexity could arise, if someone orders 3 quantity and they all fit in one shipping container. Then you need to think about multiple product shipping discounts. (The Free Shipping idea is looking better and better, isnt’ it?)

3. Are customizations needed for your product?

Will you be selling a hard, static product, or will you be selling T-Shirts? T-Shirts seem simple until you realize they come in various sizes, colors, collars, etc. Variable products need more attention because they may have varying prices, and therefore varying shipping. If you one shirt to sell that comes in 5 sizes and 6 colors, you essentially have 30 products.

4. Might you be expanding your store?

You might be selling widgets with a simple Paypal button. But what if those widgets start coming in variations (see #3) and you need to expand your capabilities? It’s best to start off with an elaborate eCommerce system, and use it simply and minimally…for now.

5. Will affiliates enter the picture at some point?

Your product might catch the attention of people who want to sell it for you. Perhaps it’s a sports related line of products that the local rec football league wants to sell and earn some credit or money for a fundraiser. A rising tide raises all ships. Be sure you are equipped to handle affiliate referrals.

6. Who is your competition?

So you want to sell used avocados on the web, and you think you’re the only one? Google it and see who else is selling them. If they are, are their websites easy to use? What’s missing from their online buying experience? You as a collector of used avocados should be a perfect test. Build your ecommerce empire to crush your competition.

7. Where will you host your website?

Is your instinct to go cheap? So, you put up your store, get some order, and boom, it gets hacked and all the data is gone. Now, not only do you need to pray that “Ed’s Lawnmower Repair and Website Hosting” has backups of your site, but that they are recent and can be restored quickly. Now, not only have you lost your data, but you have angry customers that you need to refund. That isn’t fun. Do NOT go cheap on web hosting. You need backups upon backups, as well as redundancy. Plus, the site needs to load fast and be in a strong data center, so that when your website is mentioned on the News or The Howard Stern Show, as it invariably will be, the server doesn’t crash because you paid $5.99 a month for a hosting service that doesn’t have a phone number. Contact us for more info 🙂

8. Be Realistic

Most people who open online stores think that the launching of the website/store will cause an avalanche of orders that they won’t be able to fill fast enough. This is sadly very far from the truth. Launching a new website is extremely anticlimactic.

In Conclusion…

Setting up an online store can be exciting, and with strong hosting, smart design, and thorough search engine optimization (SEO), an online store can be a lucrative business to manage. Just make sure you think through all of the possible obstacles BEFORE you embark on this kind of project. Your smart decisions will have you well prepared for the future.