Making a Flawless Transition

Granted, a national retail chain probably has a much larger budget for a Web site than you do. Even so, your smaller store can embrace the same concepts that the big boys use for a smooth, effective online transition. The best way to make this transition is to plan.

Adding an e-commerce component to your store is similar to planning a big party or a major event. Part of your plan is already in place: You have an approximate timeframe for making your project a reality. To make that time-table more manageable, break it into three smaller chunks, or stages: orientation, implementation, and evaluation. For each stage, create a checklist of activities that should occur during that stage.

Stage 1: Orientation

When you're talking about moving your store online, the orientation stage includes everything from conducting initial research to evaluating and choosing the best vendors and software applications.

Following are some of the tasks that you should accomplish in the orientation stage:

  • Identify and research your competitors. Check out the competition's sites, and even purchase items to get a feel for how their shopping carts work. Put together a list of products and price points (refer to Book IV, Chapter 6). See the section “Building an Inventory,” later in this chapter, for more information about this step.
  • Set up your Web site. Research a hosting solution, choose a domain, and set up your server. (To find out about these tasks, refer to Book III.) Then ...

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