General Archives - Lightcommerce

Selling my Ecommerce Businesses – What’s It Worth?

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If you own an E-commerce business, chances are you have asked yourself: “I wonder what my E-commerce business is worth?” and at some point in the future you probably are going to want to sell your business.

There is a growing market for the buying and selling of e-commerce businesses.  Our friends over at Digital have an excellent broker service where you can get a free valuation and they will let you know what your business is worth. They also just wrote a cool article on what makes a million dollar ecommerce business here and how to choose a website broker. For example we just did a valuation for this business that sells popcorn machines and this business that sells beard products. One business was looking to sell. The other was looking at getting a metric on their valuation and how to increase the value of their business when selling in a few years time. These are just some of the reasons that a valuation helps. It is also a good idea every now and then to get a formal business valuation. The team at Digital Exits recommends Valuator who perform business valuations sydney office. Also their friend ace buys internet business if you are looking to sell.

Now if you are curious to know what your e-commerce business is worth they developed this great infographic that will help you decipher your valuation:

New website, new vision

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Hi there!

It’s been far too long since we posted on this blog, hopefully that will change and posts will be more regular now! We’re now in our third year of business and during the last three years we’ve redefined both what our core target market is and what our main strengths are.

More than just a site build

When we started our focus was on premium site builds, mainly e-commerce but also bespoke websites and apps. But over the last year we began to see a larger need for something more than just a site build. The majority of clients that came to us had problems with ongoing support, maintenance and development, possibly from the same agency that had given them a good intial site build. Often after the initial site build, clients were lumped with expensive support contracts, pricey monthly retainers and doge support service level agreements.

Although we had always put priority on our level of customer service and support, we had never marketed it as it’s own independent service because for something so obviously vital in the life of a website, we didn’t realise so many development companies were lacking in that area. That’s when we decided that a change was in order and we started to re-think our core services.

Your own professional in house development team

Around the same time we had started to offer our development experience and technical proficiency as a whitelabel service. It started organically; a client asked us if we wouldn’t mind using an email address they provided to us from their company domain. Using this email address we were introduced to their clients as their in house developer. From here we communicated directly with their clients, gather project requirements, talking through technical difficulties and getting to the point of being able to come up with a project quote. All under their company banner. Their clients had no idea that they were liaising with someone outside of their company. All our client had to do was add their markup onto the quote and send it onto their client to close the deal. The benefits of this service to our client were substantial;

  • They didn’t need to worry about any of the technical jargon, we took care of that
  • They didn’t need to act like a middle-man. They were able to leave us to it (we copied them in on any communication).
  • They could rest easy as we took care of the technical project management, directly with their clients.

Since then we’ve to offer this server to more clients and so far they love it!

It’s due to these changes that we’ve completely revamped our website. The two new primary core services are “Premier support for any web platform” and “Whitelabel development services“. To us it seems like a natural evolution of our company and vision and finally getting the new site live was like a breath of fresh air! We strongly believe that you’ll feel the same when you see the benefits of these new core services.

If you have any questions about how any of our services work and the process used, please don’t hesitate to get in touch!

The Internet, The Web and E Commerce

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The Internet

The internet is a massive collection of networks and it plays such a large part of life, you can do so much on it. You are going on a journey – quick use the internet for directions! You need the phone number for the local takeaway – quick use the internet to get it!

It is where we get our information from, we shop on it, play on it and can even socialise through it!

We access the internet using the World Wide Web (www), which is basically a whole load of documents connected to each other around the world. It is almost like a jar of sweets, the internet is the jar itself, and the WWW is the tasty sweetie goodness that we are all there for!


So who invented the World Wide Web?

Photo Credit: W3

Tim Berners-Lee is the man we can thank!

Tim was born in London and graduated from Oxford university he became a computer scientist.  In 1989 whilst working at CERN (the European Organisation for Nuclear Research), Tim Berners-Lee proposed a global hypertext project (which would later be know as the World Wide Web).

In 1990 with the help of a student Robert Cailliau he produced a revision and he went on to implement the first successful communication between a HTTP Client and a server via the internet.

The very first website was put up online on 6 August 1991 telling the world what the World Wide Web was and how to use it and the rest, as they say, is history!!

The whole idea of sharing information in this way was once one man’s dream, a picture on a piece of paper – now it is available worldwide to anyone with a computer, internet connection and a browser and in March 2009 the world celebrated 20 years of ‘The Web’.

What is E-Commerce?

Real name Electronic Commerce is what we now know as ‘online shopping’, it was actually invented in 1979 by Michael Aldrich and in 1982 Mrs Snowball (72 years old) became the very first online home shopper!  But no-one could of imagined the development from there and when ‘The Web’ opened for commercial business in 1991 online shopping really found its momentum!

You can now buy just about anything online and consumers expect your business to be online too!

They want your information, your contact details, your history and your news, and if they can buy from you online – even better – they can shop from the warmth of their home, anytime!

Need an online shop or to make your current one even better, well that’s what we are here for!

Choosing a Reliable Host and Platform

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One of the most important decisions you’ll make as a new ecommerce seller is the hosting platform your site resides on.  Think of hosting as you would rental space in a shopping mall – instead of providing a physical space for your business, web hosting gives you the data storage and bandwidth needed to power your online store.
Since so much is riding on your web hosting account, it’s important to choose the most reliable, cost-effective plan you can.  Here’s what to look for:

  • Up-time – Up-time refers to the amount of time your website is live versus being down for repairs.  Obviously, you want this number to be as high as possible, as down-time means lost money for your web business.  Look for a web host – like the Media Temple hosting service that Lightcommerce and other major companies use – that provides at least 99.99% up-time.
  • Platform code – There are a number of different types of hosting platforms out there, but the most stable, secure accounts are those that are built on the PHP framework.  Facebook and other top websites use this platform (including all sites built through Lightcommerce) – and if it’s good enough for one of the web’s largest sites, it should be good enough for you as well.
  • Data storage space and bandwidth limits – Although your site won’t likely demand a lot of data storage space or bandwidth until it grows significantly, but it’s important to work with a provider that will allow your hosting plan to grow as your site does.  At Lightcommerce, we work closely with our customers to create custom hosting plans when necessary to ensure that the visitors to your site never see the dreaded, “Bandwidth Exceeded” error message.

Remember, if your web hosting account goes down for any reason, your site goes down as well.  So take the time to analyze your different options and select a web hosting and ecommerce provider that’s as dedicated to your success as you are.

Choosing the Right Payment Method for Your Ecommerce Site

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You’re thinking of building an ecommerce store in order to make some money, right?  So don’t drop the ball when it comes to choosing the right payment method for your target customers!  Consider the following factors when analyzing all of the different payment processing system:
  1. Accessibility – One of the most important things to keep in mind when selecting the system your site will use to process payments is its accessibility to customers in the geographic region you’re targeting.  If your customers are based primarily in the UK or the US, you’ll have plenty of different options to choose from.  But if you plan to target customers in areas like Nigeria (notorious for its payment scams), you’ll want to confirm that your payment system will allow transactions to occur from these regions.
  2. Functionality – Not all payment systems are created the same, so if there are any vital features you must have for your ecommerce store, be sure the payment method you’re considering supports them.  For example, if you want advanced shopping cart functionalities that allow you to contact customers that have abandoned items in their carts, ensure that your chosen payment method offers these features before you sign up.
  3. Security – With the ever-present threat of identity theft, web payment security is vitally important to customers and web business owners alike.  Check to be sure your chosen payment processor has implemented the latest security protocols, including the HTTPS protocol, signed requests, IP request verification and the newest Virtual Payer Authentication (VPA) technology.

Currently, Lightcommerce supports Google Checkout, Sagepay, Worldpay, Cardsave and Paypal, although we’re also able to integrate other payment processors depending on your preferences.  Contact us today to learn more about the payment methods we recommend and support!

Plans are under way to shake things up

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It’s been a while since I posted a feature update, or even a general lightcommerce update.

That’s simply because we’ve been very, very hard at work on some big plans for the lightcommerce e-commerce software that will take the e-commerce world by storm.

I can’t give away too much, but the plans include a complete administration area overhaul with a completely new design, a new bespoke content management system, integrated image editing and a little something for all you visitor analytics lovers out there ;)

If all goes well more details will be released soon, but until then know that this is going to take lightcommerce to a new level within the competitive e-commerce software world.


Why Work with an Ecommerce Platform Developer?

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Think you can handle setting up your online store by yourself, or that working with an ecommerce platform developer is too expensive?  Consider this cautionary tale of Bobby and Sue…

Bobby and Sue are brother and sister, and both of them have decided to start their own online stores with the dream of quitting their day jobs within a few months.

Bobby does a few quick internet searches for ecommerce website templates and, to his excitement, finds a free HTML template to use for his store.  It isn’t quite what he had in mind (and he doesn’t really know how to program HTML), but he presses forward anyways.  “Hey Sue,” Bobby says.  “I’m already more profitable than you are – I got my website template for free!”

Sue takes a look at Bobby’s template and laughs to herself.  It doesn’t look professional and she knows that neither she nor Bobby know a thing about how to code websites.  Instead, she decides to enlist the help of a professional bespoke ecommerce platform developer who is able to start work on her site after a few phone consultations to determine exactly what she’s looking for and what type of features she’ll need now and in the future.

With her site development out of the way, Sue gets back to what she’s good at – finding and negotiating with the suppliers who will stock her inventory at the best possible prices.  For good measure, she spends a little time brushing up on website promotion strategies so that she’ll be ready to go as soon as her site is finished.

Bobby, on the other hand, has been spending 16 hour days staring at his computer, trying to understand the foreign language on his screen.  He’s starting to get the hang of it, but a few mistakes at the beginning caused him to have to go back and start from scratch several times.

After a few weeks, Sue’s site has launched, and she’s already making sales.  She’s pleased that the developer she worked with (LightCommerce, of course!) put in the extra effort to create a good experience for her visitors, and she’s already begun to recoup the investment she made in having a strong site built.  Bobby has his site up as well, but instead of making sales, he’s fielding angry emails from visitors who weren’t able to complete the checkout process due to technical glitches.

As he heads to bed after yet another late night of trying to get his site working correctly, he sighs to himself, “If only I had enlisted the help of qualified professionals like lightCommerce from the very start…”

What Should You Look for in an Ecommerce Platform?

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Making the decision to start selling products online is huge!  Whether you plan to sell a few of your own handmade creations or want to grow a mega-market to rival Amazon, it’s important to get started out on the right foot by choosing the best ecommerce platform for your needs.

By building your web store on a bespoke ecommerce platform, you’ll avoid the costly “per transaction” fees levied by sites like eBay, Etsy or Amazon, while also retaining complete control over the way your site is run.  And since each bespoke platform installation is tailored to your specific needs, you can rest assured that your site is providing the best possible buying environment for your visitors.

But with so many different ecommerce platforms available today, how do you determine which one is right for you?  Consider the following questions:

  • What kind of support will I receive?  As a beginning ecommerce seller, support is crucial – just ask the thousands of business owners who have had to scramble to learn code when an unexpected bug caused their self-hosted websites to crash, resulting in lost time and lost money!
  • What is the technical background of the platform developers?  Don’t put the success of your web store in the hands of some fresh-out-of-college coder who doesn’t have the real world experience necessary to support you and your growing business!  Instead, look for developers with extensive real-world experience handling ecommerce websites and transactions.
  • What features will the platform provide me?  Every ecommerce seller’s needs are different, which is why looking for a bespoke ecommerce platform with the specific features you’ll need now and in the future to support your business’s growth is critical.

Obviously, we’re pretty confident that the LightCommerce platform will meet these needs and more.  But whether you’re looking for a bespoke ecommerce platform or not, it’s still a good idea to think through these questions in order to give your online store the best possible odds of succeeding.

How a Bespoke Ecommerce Platform Saves You Money

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There’s no arguing with the fact that a bespoke ecommerce platform (aka – one that’s built exclusively for your unique needs) is more expensive than an out-of-the-box web store template.   While you can pick up a generic ecommerce store template for under £100, your initial investment in a custom ecommerce site will likely be much more than that.

However, when you consider the other factors that make a bespoke ecommerce platform so powerful, you’ll find that this price comparison simply isn’t relevant.  For example, will your one-off template purchase update itself?  Will it provide you with the kind of powerful CMS you need to respond to the ever-changing needs of your market?

If you’re planning ahead for your ecommerce website (or if you aren’t satisfied with your current set-up), consider the following lightcommerce features that make this bespoke platform a much better investment – dollar-for-dollar – for your business:

  • Ongoing security management.  As a website owner, reliability is key.  If your site is hacked, you stand to lose thousands of dollars (or more) and damage your reputation.  At lightcommerce, we’re constantly updating our platform to guard against new security threats, meaning that your site and your data will always be safe and secure. Savings to you: £1,000+ if your site is ever hacked.
  • Frequent new features upgrades.  Unless you’re a skilled web developer in addition to an ecommerce merchant, you’ll likely find that making necessary updates to your store-bought website template is time-consuming and cost-prohibitive.  But as a lightcommerce customer, free updates are part of your initial purchase price, so you’ll never have to worry about the added cost of ongoing site upkeep.Savings to you: £100+/hour to hire a qualified web developer.
  • Flexible content management system.  The ability to update your web store is critical, as product lines and inventory change from day-to-day.  Unfortunately, you’ll find that updating an HTML web store template can be difficult, making the powerful lightcommerce CMS (which allows you to add and update pages on your own) a welcome relief from needing to hire a web designer for every little tweak.Savings to you: £70+/hour to hire a talented web designer.

So before you write off bespoke ecommerce platforms as being too expensive for your business, be sure to look at the bigger picture.  A larger investment up front in the lightcommerce platform could make the difference between an easy launch and hassle-free site operation, and a series of frustrating and costly changes.