What can you sell online? Online shops

First of all, what is ecommerce? This term pops up a lot, and I guess you’ve probably already heard it.

E-commerce is any website with a feature that takes money transactions, but usually this is an online shop, it can be any site that sells physical products, file downloads, classes, bookings, tickets and anything else you can think of paying for online.

An online shop is probably the first thing you think of when ecommerce is mentioned. 

Yes your online shop can be as small or as large as you like, sell one to thousands of physical products. Some shops only have one page with a list of items to sell such as wearehourglass.org/shop or something more complex like healthfoodsforyou.co.uk which is integrated into their physical shop which has lots of categories, offers and variations of products.

The kinds of platforms you’ll want to consider are the ones which will work best for your business. For example, if you want a very simple shop WordPress with WooCommerce is ideal for a few to many products. If you want something much more complex, then Drupal might be the way to go.

Finding time to keep your online shop up to date

If you have a large online shop with lots of products, you may find it hard to get enough time to keep it up to date. If you're struggling it's worth getting someone in to do it.

We offer a Website online shop management service if you're struggling to fit it in. If you already have an online shop in WordPress or Drupal we can offer this service to you, we only ask that we host your website. Click here to find out more about our Website online shop management service

Charging for shipping and delivery

This can get very complicated and people often think selling online is simply until they have to think about shipping and delivery. Hopefully the breakdown below will help make it simpler:

Flat rate

One of the easiest ways for you and your customers to understand it is to charge for delivery by flat rate, this means you might charge £5 for every order. This approach might not be practical if you sell just a few items for a few pounds each time, but it may encourage people to buy more in one go, that way you don’t have to go to the post office or organise a courier quite so often, which in turn could have a financial benefit.

Free shipping over a fixed amount 

Having a fixed fee if a customer spends over a large amount can encourage people to buy more in one go, and as with flat rate, it may mean less work and more time for you when you get larger orders in one go, rather than lots of little ones. 

By postcode

If you’re selling to the UK only, selling by postcode might seem the fairest but it’s by far the most complex to set up, and complicated for customers to know what they will be paying in shipping. If you can work this out and are confident it won’t put your customers off by all means, but remember it might get you into a tiz later.

By weight and size 

As with postcodes this can get complicated. You can show the weight on the product page so people can work out the postage cost then they won’t get an off putting surprise when they checkout. Just remember to explain how you charge for delivery on your Shipping and delivery page so people can access this in advance. It’s important to manage expectations especially in terms of money, when people know what to expect they’re less likely to abandon the checkout.

Remember packaging has weight - paper, bubble wrap etc, so if you’re charging by weight, remember to calculate the materials used to pack the products. It will only be an estimate, but add this to make sure you don’t make a loss on postage.

Choose your courier wisely

If you’re not using a common courier and want to use a small independent service, great! But do make sure they’re going to take care of your parcels when in transit and that their staff are polite if they happen to speak to your customers when delivering at the door.

Courier services will need to be added as a delivery charge into the website, or integrated as a Wordpress plugin or Drupal module. 

Royal Mail is probably the easiest to integrate into your website, there are lots of others to choose from. Some couriers may or may not integrate easily if at all into your chosen platform, so check this first. 

Don’t go with the cheapest courier to try and keep costs down for the customer, it may cause long term issues with the workings of the website and your reputation if there’s an issue with delivery.

Have a Shipping and Delivery information page

So customers can check before they buy how much they will be paying for delivery, if there’s any insurance offered, if it’s free over a fixed amount and which courier they can expect to deliver their parcels. 

Where are you going to sell to?

Lots of our UK  customers sell to the UK and not abroad. Which is much simpler to work out shipping and taxes. If you are going to sell abroad, make sure you’re aware of tariffs on goods that arrive in other countries. VAT will vary depending on those countries too.


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