Are you planning on start selling on the web? there is a range of platforms out there and you have to make some decisions on how many features you want and how much money you are able to spend before you start.
Below is my story of how TUG started selling on the web.
During the years i have changed platforms three times and with each of the “moves” it has cost me dearly if not only economically than also in the value of loss of customers. Yes.. customers tend to leave when to big a change occurs, there can be for recognition purpose like, what.. who is running this webshop now, what happened to Martin´s store, is he gone, who took over, can the new look be trusted, i do not recognize the cart or checkout so i will not make an order and so forth.
Anyway, when it all began in 2006 the market for webshop platforms was still in its beginning steps, at least this is how i saw it, sure the bigger company’s already hade webshops along with their normal “walk in” shops but they were big players, possibly a whole department(!?) was driving their webshops with in-house designers, sellers, marketeers etc so what was available for newcomers on this market? I am not sure if I would call myself a pioneer in websales but i saw the internet as a way to reach out and then i mean reach out over the country borders all the way to Europe and beyond so i had to look for a provider that also took on small businesses.
I quickly signed up with a company and immediately regretted it, and chose another, all this was because of poor research. This adventure set me back about a year because of domain registration and contract signing to the first company with difficult and unnecessary domain-name-forwarding etc as a result (remember this was 2006, not all was so savvy nd simple as it is now). When i landed in this matter i finally had my first webshop platform setup at e-butik.se, this was a company that had early seen the future of websales and they had a good platform to start on.
My plan had always been to sell to the whole world but the set up in the webshop platform in the early days of e-butik.se was that it was made for sales within Sweden only.. you can imagine the threshold this had to my plans. Yes there were more platforms available out there, some even made for “the world” but many required some programming skills that i did not have, even you that says “hey you can just add a webshop to your WordPress blog.. “well i did not even have a blog at that time and when i started it was on the blogspot platform.. go figures…!
E.butik.se did have a great support team that i was in frequent contact with, lobbying my ideas of how to make the webshop available for the rest of the world. I did promote the shop for the world but sales from outside Sweden was painfully hard to administer and required the customer to email me what they wanted to buy and i manually created orders for them. For instance i had to have both Swedish and English text for the same product in the same description, there was no calculator conversion so customers frequently asked me what it would cost for them in their own currency, i had to manually handle PayPal payments and get back to customers what the shipping cost would be to that country and add that separate, needless to say all this deterred customers from outside Sweden.
With this setup it was creating a massive effort to handle certain orders and it took time from my favorite work: coming up with new ideas for products etc. This continued for some years with a few improvements from the webshop provider.
There must have been more than just me that wanted radical changes in the webshop platform because of its limited functionality and what i gather e-butik.se also had realized this issues so they had come to the conclusion that they needed to build up a totally new platform because the “old” one could not be developed any further codewise.
Ok so this was good and bad news for me! the good news included being able to sell to the world without the extra work of manually order handling, better SEO possibilities, a new look, a swedish page and an english page, new sizing of pictures and more choice regarding payment alternatives.
On the bad side.. it required me to manually move all articles, text and pictures one and one to the new platform because they were not import compatible. In this process i lost all customer and order history, values that was statistically important to me and that is a base needed to be in a webshop for having a chance to see progress and keep track o how many order, how many customers etc etc, valued admin values, they were now all gone.
As i was leaving the ship (old platform) i needed my customers to understand and sign up for the new one, not an easy task but vital.
When the new platform was up and running i was beginning statistically on square one but i could at least refocus on new product pictures and other changes like looking over product text and such. A few years passed and i paid for design changes, A and B testing and similar to improve the webshop and then the news hit me that e-butik had been bought by jetshop and there was a few choices included in this new setting.
I could continue use the new platform (but now in this light, old platform but there would eventually be a deadline when that was closed down) or i could upgrade to jetshops platform that offered even more features but at a different larger cost, this would result in yet another change in platform and which way or another there was new charges for payment alternatives and other features that was included before so it was a big time decision time for me.
If I took a long look at my sales vs the webshop platform i had (and it sort of looked like i was trying and paying for to be in the big league) and without having the financial back up for it I realized it was time to take a few steps back and downsize as to re-enable growth, simplify things and have a more sustainable long-term base.
A few nights sleep on it and i sent in my answer that i was going to terminate my webshop platform and of course “Murphy” was involved, i had just missed the three-month in advance closing clause and had automatically signed my self up for yet another year before termination could be made. Thist was a sour apple to chew on for sure and that lack of knowledge cost me a lot of money, basically all sales went to pay for upholding the webshop during that year because of the new costs for the platform after takeover.
When it was finally time, and on the day of closure of my “old” webshop i opened the new Tictail webshop that i have had since then (about 2 years now when writing this), the change was dramatic in that yet again i had to manually move my products from one platform to another before the opening but even if this was slow work it was worth it and it felt right to do it!
Would i move to yet another platform again? well possibly if something radical happens but.. it needs to be said that Tictail is the coolest platform so far, what it might lack in features it is backed up by great support and new-thinking and they also provide new developed features from time to time!
There is a range of webshop providers out there today and many of the problems i had in the early days will never be a problem if some planning is done before opening your first webshop!