There are two main reasons I politely decline/refuse to help people set up online stores:
- I don’t want to be involved in a mission-critical website whose failure would mean I would have to interrupt a vacation or day off or good night’s sleep.
- The future online store isn’t likely to be a success.
In a previous job, I was responsible for maintaining police, fire, and ambulance dispatching systems. I stayed mostly sober through New Year’s Eve on Y2K with pagers and cellphones strapped to my belt, and have years of experience in being responsible. I have been on-call 24 x 7 enough in my life. So, a potential store owner would have to accept that my help is in set up, but not in daily operation. And, most people who have asked me to create a store for them have admitted that they wanted full support.
But, even when someone understands my limitations, I quickly back away. Typically, the store owner has the expectation that a crowd is going to beat their virtual door down and buy lots of stuff from them. They have this expectation though there is no reason for someone to visit their site.
- Their goods and services are commodities available from 4700 other places.
- They have no special expertise in what they are selling.
- Their competition is entrenched, large, and able to offer better pricing.
- They have little or no supplementary information to help entice people to buy or understand their product.
Additionally, most of the would-be online store owners can only spend a few hours here and a few hours next week on their store. They want someone else (me) to set up their shipping logistics, their price lists, their… well… everything that a store owner/manager has to do.
I want to provide good value to my clients. And, frankly, I think that most of the people who have asked me to help with stores are going to spend money and have little to show for their effort. So, I decline to take on a future unhappy client.
However, this spring I was asked to help with a store by Andrew Scoular, an owner who has unique products, understands business, and also understands that what a store owner has to do cannot be delegated to a webmaster. Helping Andrew set up Sensitive Skin Clinic has educated me on skin care and on e-commerce features.
In the next series of posts I’ll share what I’ve learned to help you decide if running an online store is a business activity you’re ready for.
Check out what Andrew is offering and how. Then come back here over the next few days to learn what Andrew and I discovered together. And, please leave your comments if you have questions or specific topics you want covered.
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