Online shopping has completely caught the hearts of Singaporeans. By 2015, in has penetrated the lives of Singaporeans at 57.31% and it is expected to reach 74.20% in 2020. Evidently, e-commerce is indeed booming.
More than 50% of women shop online while men catch up at 48%. Most shoppers are at age group 45-54 years old and the least number of shoppers by age are those in late teens and early 20’s. Online business seems to be a sound business strategy, however, if this is your first time to venture in e-commerce, you have to arm yourself with knowledge to keep away from advantageous individuals.
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Plan your Business
Everything must start with a plan to know where you are heading. Even before you get the funds, you must know what you really want to sell online and who are you going to sell it to. Despite the feeling that you have the best idea for an upcoming online shop, you still must do adequate research if the product you are going to offer really does stand out.
Will your product be a need everyone will look for, or is it just one of those products in a highly saturated industry. Think clearly of the problem you are trying to solve with your product, what its advantages could be and how it can catch the consumers’ attention. Clearly define your niche. To whom are you going to sell and how might they react. You are likely to discover interesting answers through research and analysis.
Finally, take your time to learn about your competition. How are the other businesses with same products fair, how they are attracting consumers and what can you offer to stand out.
Estimate a Budget for Your New Website
Your website will be the powerful tool to get to your consumers. It has to be engaging and personalized.
- List your specifications
Decide the customization that you want, the color scheme and the personal touches you think will best describe your company. Would you want to include some photos? How many photos do you want to put up? Do you like 3D designs, box type or flay layouts?
How many pages would you want to be in your site? Would you like keep a blog? Do you have the ability to write your contents or you need to hire someone to write for you?
What information do you want to offer? Do you need a customized order form? Do you have various payment options? Do you want to keep a page for your clients’ feedbacks? Are you going to hire an SEO expert?
- Get proposals either from a one stop web developers or freelancers.
There are various web development agencies who offer web services from designs to SEO. You can either choose from these developers and their packages or you can hire individual freelancers. If you have a friend who can create your web design, then you can create your own content and just hire a web developer as it will save you much.
Once you receive the proposals, do not be discouraged nor be surprised if you see higher costs than you have expected. However, when you choose the service provider, be sure to see their portfolios. Ask about their experience and visit the site they have created or took part in to have an idea on how they will handle yours. Putting up a website can be more expensive the more unique you want it to be while the generic looking websites will be cheaper. It is your call.
Set up the Website
- Domain name is used for uniform resource locator (URL) to access your website. People usually buy this, though some web hosts include it their offered packages.
- Web Hosting is a service which allows organizations and individuals to post a website or web page in to the Internet. You will need a Web Hosts such as SiteGround, InMotion hosting, DreamHost, HostGator, Bluehost, Pagely, GreenGeeks, JustHost, Godaddy, and DreamPress. You may also choose local web hosting companies such as SingHost, APC Hosting, Webvisions, QOXY, HostSG, and Signetique. The location of your web host does not matter as they can work anywhere in the globe.
Know the Consumer Protection Legislation
- Copyright Act was amended in 1999 to improve copyright protection in the digital environment. While you are not the only one getting goods from your supplier, you have your own brand and website contents to protect from those trying to copy it.
- On the other hand as a booming industry, the government has strict policies to protect the welfare of the consumers. The Unfair Contract Terms Act (UCTA) regulates the terms, liabilities and standards of the contracts when people buy from e-commerce sites, the Sale of Goods Act (SOGA) give them the right to reject the goods if they are not satisfied by its quality, and the Misrepresentation Act mandates retailers to be true to their advertisements. Their product quality must meet what is being promised in the sites.
Getting the Goods
Choose the best way you can purchase your products:
- Buying personally
If you get your products from another country, you can bring home your goods with appropriate tax. You can personally oversee the handling of your goods.
- Through shipments
If you need to buy a bigger quantity of your products or raw materials, you can choose to have it shipped instead to buying it yourself.
- Banks with a merchant account
Compare bank rates to know where to get the best and most flexible merchant account.
You can use PayPal provided code in your website to add security.
- Payment Gateway Account (third-party merchants)
Choose your remittance agents carefully. Take time to compare agents and search for their clients’ experiences. Know their partner remittance agents in other countries should you need to ship and receive payments abroad. License does not guarantee performance.
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