Setting up shop online is no small task. It can feel overwhelming even with products out there that try to minimize the investment by making it sound fast and simple.
First of all, there’s no such thing as fast, simple and successful. Success takes time and commitment. Secondly, setting up an online store requires thought and planning whether you opt for a “simple” solution or invest in a more complex and customized one. But it doesn’t have to be overwhelming.
With small, focused steps you’ll build momentum toward a confident launch.
Tip #5: Set Up The Warehouse
Whatever you’re selling, a database will provide the product warehouse and can store every detail of the sales transaction. Your product inventory and sales process will determine the information that must be stored in your database, so before you begin an ecommerce project, be sure to outline exactly what you need.
A clothing retailer, for example, may require storage for sizes, colors or other style options. A furniture retailer may need to warehouse wood finishes, paint colors and optional configurations such as two or three drawer dressers.
A database can handle up-sells and cross-sells, too. If you sell gourmet cookies with a price break between two and three dozen, you want to prompt customers with two dozen in their cart to buy the third and take advantage of your offer. Perhaps you sell collectible dolls. Why not suggest a display case to your customers before checkout? A little imagination sets the stage for effective marketing and good database design makes it possible.
Another function of your database is warehousing customer orders. It can help you stay on top of inventory, store shipping and tracking information, even generate reports based on customer activity.
Reporting is a tremendously useful perk. Want to know how many people made a purchase in June? Or who spent over a certain dollar amount? Want to know who’s been back to reorder, and how soon? Use reports to reach out to old customers and draw them back in.
A database also forms the core for your web site content management system. Once you know what you want to store, manage and report on, a database will provide the foundation to do it.
Depending on the complexity of your site, your budget and business needs, you may choose to build a completely custom database for inventory, sales and content management or you may decide that a prepackaged solution works for you. The only way to know that is to plan effectively so you know your needs and limitations.
Custom systems can be built to your precise specification, but they are also more costly. Prepackaged systems tend to be low cost, but are inherently limiting. Decide what you need, then find the tools that will let you achieve your goals.
Do you have a custom database? What one change would improve the way you do business online?