Creating a budget requires time for planning, looking at your available resources and a thought process that is geared towards avoiding any unforeseen costs and expenses. This rings especially true for those who are looking at starting up a successful eCommerce venture.
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Many elements of your line items will appear self evident, but others are less obvious. In addition to initial startup costs of getting your web site built, tested and functional, there are other more long-term, ongoing expenses that need consideration and inclusion.
Here are six key elements to examine when planning your eCommerce budget:
#1 – Design & Development
In addition to the most obvious, number-one line item for your online business, some categories of design and development are often overlooked. For example, one will easily remember a “shopping cart” service, but what about the other elements that should accompany this buying platform? Customer loyalty programs, coupons, gift cards, shipping estimators, returns and exchanges are just a few functions and features that sometimes go MIA.
#2 – Visuals & Artwork
Once you look past the design of a business logo, your site needs other types of visual appeal, photographs and artwork. These are not necessarily “free” and to avoid any possible legal ramifications in the future, ensure that your images are all properly licensed (naturally available at an additional cost) or perhaps you will be using your own photography. Either way, decide which will work best for you and your bottom line.
#3 – Data Entry & Management
Someone will need to enter all your valuable product information into a database. While most developers will perform this service (again, for an additional fee), some startups will opt to do it themselves. Be prepared for a little training and a hefty investment in time, but this is also a valuable way to learn the ropes of your site’s management console. There is also ongoing data management and maintenance of product information, customer and sales information that require attention.
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#4 – Hosting & Security
There are plenty of web hosting companies that are a real bargain, but you often get what you pay for in terms of speed, security and support. Online shoppers are impatient and fickle, so if your site loads too slowly or doesn’t appear to be secure, they will quickly move along to someplace faster and safer without blinking an eye.
#5 – Maintenance & Updates
What works today, might not work tomorrow — just think of how often Windows is updated. The same is true for you and your website. You’ll need to budget for things like upgrades associated with advancements in web browsers, advancing technology, enhanced security, new features and functions. Even tech startups can be caught off guard by these costs.
#6 – Marketing & Advertising
Traffic to your new eCommerce website will not magically appear out of thin air. You’ll need to promote your new business through effective marketing and advertising. Both of these come at a cost, either with your own time or payment to a third party. There are many different marketing options available but be prepared to pay for targeted advertising, effective SEO marketing and/or social media strategies.
In closing, think about this, remember playing hide-and-go-seek as a child? There were always a few rules and limitations as to where you could conceal yourself.
Budgets don’t play fair.
Guest Author: Megan Ritter
Megan Ritter is an online business writer and guest author based in Southern California. As an online journalist, she often covers social media marketing, ecommerce, finance management, and business communications. Follow Megan Ritter on Twitter to connect with her!