Should You Have an E-Commerce Website?

A good friend of mine asked me for a price on an E-Commerce site for his local picture framing business. He was thinking of combining a local brochure type site with an E-commerce site. As I wanted to advise him properly, I wrote him the following E-mail. If you're thinking of having an E-Commerce site for your brick and mortar business, you may want to take a look at what I advised.

About the project/s you have in mind:

Have you ever noticed that when you visit a website to buy something, it's either a brochure for a local business, or an e-commerce catalog? It's rarely a combination. It seems that people want to buy from a site that looks like it was made to sell things, and not from a local company that is in another state that is selling things. Or they want to know more about the local company before they visit the store. It seems to me that having both in one site could help the local business, but hurt a national e-commerce business.

With that said, trying to compete nationally for framing business with an e-commerce site would be difficult and expensive. A properly done e-commerce site could run about ten thousand dollars (more or less, and possibly much more depending on the site's capabilities), and then the additional SEO required to get to the top on Google could run another ten thousand over a year's time (with more ongoing to keep the site ranking well), and there would be no guarantee you'd be on the top of the first page of google (where all the money is).

When I checked for how many people are searching for 24 carat gold frames and similar (your niche project), I came up with almost nothing. In order to make money on the web you have to be selling something that a decent amount of people are searching for (and buying), and you have to be on the first page of google. If you don't have both, you'd just be spending money on a website to find out the hard way those simple truths. Many people waste a ton of money finding this out, and I don't want to see that happen to you (I would not feel good about taking your money and misleading you into thinking you can make money with your site). If you have deep pockets and/or a more viable niche, maybe it would be worth discussing.

With that out of the way, I do believe (and know) that almost every business must have a decent web presence, and must try to be on the first page of Google. As more and more people use the web for research of local business, and as more and more people use their smart phones to find local businesses when their on the road, the business that have a great web presence will get most of the business, and those who don't will wither and die (unless they have an even better marketing plan that works for them). Having this presence may not mean the flood gates will open. There has to be hundreds or thousands of buyers looking for what you're selling for that to happen. But... at the very least, a great web presence in a viable industry will more than pay for itself over time, and should wind up being a major source of new customers, who will become repeat customers, and referring customers. Picture framing in West Palm Beach currently gets about 100 Google searches a month (there are other search terms people use as well). Some of those customers can be yours, or they can belong to your competition.

A nice website (see my website for samples of my work) with all the necessary built in SEO (search engine optimization), that should rank well on Google right out of the box, will run about $3000. The sample site you had me look at is heavy on graphics, and has a lot of pages. A site like that would be closer to $4500. Adding an e-commerce shopping cart for selling products online (I'm not talking about simple links to affiliate sites) would add about $2000 to the cost (depends on capability of the cart and amount of items). I can't really give you a solid quote on any of the sites though, unless with have a detailed discussion to determine what you actually need.

If we find that after the site is up it needs help to get to the top of Google, additional off site SEO should be done. That should run around $400 per month (for local searches) depending on your budget and how aggressively you want to rise to the top . A Google pay per click campaign can be set up as well for some additional clicks.

If you'd like to discuss any of this further, please let me know.

All the Best,


Social Media Marketing

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