E-commerce Basics: Answer These Questions Before You Launch an E-Commerce Website

Updated on 10 January 2022

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Launching an e-commerce website in South Africa has several advantages including low barrier for entry, cost-effectiveness, reaching a wider audience, and access to features such as reporting and analytics tools that provide insight into sales, acquisition, inventory, behaviour and marketing efforts.

Here are important questions to ask before starting an e-commerce store:

How will I build the e-commerce website?

Firstly, determine what your budget is to launch your e-commerce store, as well as how much are you can spend on a monthly subscription. This will help you decide which subscription or services you can afford – whether a website developer or platforms that offer DIY website builders. The latter is typically less expensive and comes with access to pre-built templates, plugins and add-ons to set up the e-commerce website yourself.

What are costs involved?

You can choose between monthly or an annual subscription package. According to SME South Africa’s review of top e-commerce web-builders in South Africa, the majority of e-commerce websites come with both domain and maintenance services. Other costs include transaction fees for the payment gateway you use to accept payments on your website. Transactional fees are a percentage of the total order or a fixed amount.

How many products will I be selling?

For many e-commerce website builders, the cost of the plan/package is determined by the size of your store and how many products you will be selling.

What are the main features my e-commerce should have?

Common features include store inventory management; security to handle system and security updates to prevent cyberattacks; easy-to-use checkout; reporting tools; customer product reviews feature; promotion and discount code tools; multiple payment options; and 24/7 support.

What should I know about delivering products to customers?

Delivery of products is referred to as order fulfilment. It is important to consider the entire process involved from receiving orders, managing inventory, the storage facility, and order processing (packing and getting items ready to be shipped). Other factors to consider are shipping with your delivery partners of choice, as well as your returns process if customers return an item.

What kind of payment methods should my online store have?

Make sure your e-commerce store offers multiple payment methods such as credit and debit cards, Masterpass, Zapper, SnapScan, Mobicred, PayPal as well as SiD Secure EFT and MoMoPay.

How can I protect my customer’s data when they visit the site?

As you know, customers need a sense of trust when they want to buy online. Therefore, customers must be informed that data (which includes their credit card information, login details and email addresses) are safe on your e-commerce website. To start, ensure your website has an SSL Certificate. Kaspersky defines an SSL Certificate as “a digital certificate that authenticates a website’s identity and enables an encrypted connection”.

Other ways of reassuring customers that your e-commerce website is secure are to use a reputable payment gateway and to make sure that customers have a way of reaching your business.

How can I market my products?

Most e-commerce website builders in South Africa have a social media marketing integration tool which can be used to promote you business on social media platforms. You can also make use of your website’s engine optimisation and marketing (SEO and SEM) and make your products more visible on Google search.


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