Adding an online storefront to your business can seem overwhelming, but, if done correctly, can provide unmatched benefit for your customers. "It's all about convenience," says Jeff Taxdahl, owner of Jordan, MN-based Thread Logic. "With e-commerce, customers can sit at home and order from you."
What's the easiest way to add e-commerce? Taxdahl recommends progressing slowly because building a custom site costs considerable time and money. "But some apparel suppliers have templates you can use, and you don't have to sell only their products," he says. "Plus, many of them are free to start. It's worth dipping your toe in the pool."
Erich Campbell, digitizer and e-commerce manager at Black Duck Inc. (asi/140730) in Albuquerque, NM, says that you can also pay for a more advanced site that's still easy to use. "Software-as-a-service solutions, like DecoNetwork, are hosted remotely and offer customizability and advanced tools as well as extensive support," Campbell says.
Both Taxdahl and Campbell agree that adding e-commerce has to be worth the time and money spent. "You have to ask yourself: Do your customers want it and will they use it?" Taxdahl says. "Define your goals and objectives." Campbell agrees that careful consideration of aims is crucial. "There's more to it than just selling apparel online," he says. "Some decorators are using it to spur more standard orders through the added SEO it can offer. Others are just offering another tool to their usual customers. You have to consider the audience and tailor it to them."
Finally, Campbell says that the online side of a business has to be maintained along with the bricks-and-mortar entity, especially in terms of responsive customer service and updated information. "However, the ability to create a store of information on your products and services that's constantly available to your customers is a tremendous asset," he says.