Setting up an e-commerce store with limited budget and experience

Updated: Jun 1, 2020

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 you’re looking to create an e-commerce store of self-designed, self-created products, getting a website set up through an expert 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.  

If you are bootstrapped, make sure you follow these tips to avoid any waste of your very precious money :

Tip #1 : 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

Tip #2 : Define your requirements clearly

Obvious, huh? Not really. Incase your website involves personalization and customization options, design previews, etc., this step is super critical. 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

Tip #3 : 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.

Pro Tip – Meet.Meet.Meet

Tip #4 : 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. Atleast 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

Tip #5 : 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, the focus should be to quickly get your products out there.

Pro tip - Budget making and maintaining

Tip #6 : Investing in SEO readiness

I cannot emphasize this point enough – it is one of the major pain points for every e-commerce store out there. Few basics, if not done well, will clip your wings when you’re ready to soar. Having a website which is not built SEO friendly – can hold you back while scaling. You might end up spending 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

Tip #7 : 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.