7 Lessons To Setup An Ecommerce Store on Limited Budget and Expertise

Posted: November 4, 2015

Ever wondered how to set up an ecommerce store on a limited budget and with less experience? Whether it is a gifting portal, a home business or a regular online store, follow these 7 points and stay on track.

So you have the idea. You have the product. You just have no clue how to get this store online. Can you startup without a tech stakeholder? Depends.

If it’s going to be a tech-company eventually, it’s best to involve a technical person from the word go. They are likely to bring the website up better, faster and maintain continuity.

However, if like me you’re looking to create an e-commerce store of creative products, an outsourced agency would be the best option. With the availability of several open platforms which are fairly comprehensive, it’s only a matter of time before you’re on top of it.

After having involved more than 2 outsourced partners, here is what I learnt while setting up my bootstrapped online store :

Do your homework

Spend time on logically structuring all the features and functionalities of the website. Ponder over the ‘ifs’ and ‘hows’ of the customer experience. Since ours was a Gifting portal, we chose an ‘occasion-based’ rather than ‘product-based’ categorization – making ot faster and easier for the customer to discover their product of choice.

Pro Tip: Think like your customer

Define your requirements clearly

Obvious, huh? Not really. Our website was not simply an off-the-shelf marketplace. It needed personalization and customization options, design previews, etc. During the first few discussions with potential partners, we realized they needed a specific and comprehensive brief.The fastest way to do it – share a reference website. A visual works way better than a doodled diagram – especially for the freelance guys.Remember, given budget constraints, these guys are simply executors and hence, less inclined to ideating, solutioning or creating features from scratch.

Pro Tip: Reference it

Scout it out

Google.Reference, Facebook Groups. Peer Entrepreneurs.Friends. Tap them all to prepare your initial list of tech partner. Meet as many as possible and discuss features, functionalities again and again. It’s amazing how much can be learnt simply by speaking to many experts in the domain.

After we met the good, the bad and the ugly– we finally decided to go with a small, startup who were enthusiastic and eager to please – just like us.

Pro Tip: Meet. Meet. Meet.

Big might not be beautiful 

Don’t get caught up with the glossy presentations shared by the big agencies UNLESS they showcase some real start-up credentials. Your partner needs to be comfortable and skilled to work in the ever-evolving, fast paced, slightly ambiguous start-up environment.

Also evaluate whether this partner can take your portal to the next level scale and sophistication you visualize. At least be able to lay a solid foundation for growth.

Lastly, ensure you bind in an annual maintenance contract right upfront. Small issues, changes, add-ons will consume more time and money than you can imagine as business grows.

Pro Tip: Look for ample startup experience

Deciding the platform

There are a lot of platform options for an online venture now –making it hard to pick the most suitable one. To clear the clutter, focus on the budget of creating AND maintaining till you achieve critical mass.The desire and need to create the perfect product is understandable – however, if you’re bootstrapped, like we were, the focus should be to quickly get your products out there.

Pro tip: Make a budget and maintain it.

Investing in SEO readiness

I cannot emphasize this point enough – it was one of our major pain points. Few basics, if not done well, will clip your wings when you’re ready to soar. Our launch product was not 100% SEO friendly – but since we were so exhausted by the mammoth task of putting it all together, we let the SEO bit slip. However, few months later when business started picking up, SEO issues kept holding us back – we now had to spend more time and money to get those basics right. Long story short- add SEO-readiness and management as a critical piece for your initial product

Pro Tip : Get a Marketing Expert to vet the SEO readiness upfront

Be prepared to follow up, a lot

When I stepped out of the deadline-driven consulting world, I believed that’s how sacredly everyone in the universe approached timelines. My bubble burst, much too soon.

So in the Real World, timelines are mostly mere ‘formalities’ – unless you drive them, lead them and own them. Follow up everyday – every alternate day – every weekend – as per the pro-activeness of the tech partner.

Pro Tip: Drive the deadlines

In the journey of setting up your dream website on a tight budget and low know-how,be prepared for a few heartburns and stressful nights, for several hiccups and for the ugly confrontations.

Just don’t give up. It’s all going to be worthwhile!

Image via Shutterstock.

Entrepreneur. Learner. Doer. Feminist. Free-Spirit. Spiritual. Non Ritualistic. "It begins with you - and the

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