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A few months ago we took a look at some resources that would be useful if you’re running an e-commerce website. I thought it would be useful to go right back to basics of e-commerce, so over the next couple of articles we’ll answer some of those questions most commonly asked about how to go about selling online.

First of all, though, let’s deal with a couple of common misconceptions: number one is just how much time it takes if you’re going to do e-commerce properly. There are online shop builders that can have you up and running on the internet in around half an hour and will cost just a few pounds per month. If e-commerce is simply something that you think you need to be doing, and you want to get the tedious process of getting your business selling online over and done with in time for Bargain Hunt, then go for it, but be prepared to consider that monthly fee as money down the drain.

Be prepared to invest a lot of blood, sweat and tears in your project. It’s not simply a case of picking an e-commerce system, slapping on a few products then sitting back and waiting for the orders to start rolling in. I’m afraid that you’re in for a very rude awakening if you think that’s the case – sorry.

The whole project has to be carefully planned before you go near any e-commerce system. Then there’s the building and testing…and testing…and more testing. But once you’re finally up and running, that’s when you can relax and let it run by itself, right?

Sorry to burst that bubble, but you’ve only just started. For your e-commerce project to stand any chance of success you really have to think of it as being a full-time job in itself: updating the site with the products and content, processing orders, dealing with enquiries, and that’s before we’ve even looked at how you’re going market the site.

The second misconception is that you can have a site like Amazon for £1,000. Sure, you’ll find some that will promise you that, but to do it properly, you realistically need a larger budget.

It’ll come as no surprise that the big players invest millions of pounds into their online presence. Saying that, though, there are plenty of systems available that will give you the features you need at an affordable price, including some of the online shop builders that I mentioned earlier.

So, if you reckon you have the determination to make it work, the time to devote to it, plus a realistic idea of how much it will cost to do it properly, make sure you read part two of this article next month’s edition.

Andrew McEwan of The Web Workshop in Morebattle (www.thewebworkshop.net) helps businesses in the Borders and beyond with their online presence and digital marketing.