Things to Consider Before Setting Up an eCommerce Site in Sri Lanka

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There’s a saying that goes – “If you build it, they will come”. This adage may be applicable for some but when it comes to an eCommerce solutions in Sri Lanka, this advice can be disastrous.

To build an effective and successful online store, you need a clear strategy on how to attract the right audience and convince them to make a purchase through your site. But before you set up your first eCommerce website, there are a few factors you need to understand and consider to help you set a solid foundation for your business.

  • Carry out a competitive analysis

Before you launch a new online store, it’s imperative to analyze your competition and monitor them on a regular basis. This will help you to identify what has already been there in the market and how successful it has been and you can, in turn, go with a  unique market positioning when starting out with your eCommerce business.

Here are a few tips to carry out a competitive analysis to set up a unique marketing position:

  • – Take note of each competitor in your market and think about why customers have opted for them. Figure out if they’re going for experience or price?
  • – Review the social media activities and customer acquisition of your competitors and determine what you can learn from them and do differently.
  • – Take a look at their pricing to understand what your target audience is willing to pay. Doing so will also give you better insights on setting up your own pricing for your products.

Once you have a better understanding of the competitors in your niche market, you can capitalize on their weaknesses and strengths. The bottom line is to make sure that your target audience has more reason to shop with you over your competitors.


  • Decide on the right platform

Choosing an eCommerce platform can either make or break your business. Once a platform is chosen, it becomes harder to back out of it if it turns out to be unsatisfactory. In fact, studies have shown that more than 60% of large eCommerce site owners have stated that they should have been more diligent on the platform they selected for their online store. To choose the right eCommerce website that will meet your requirements, you need to consider a number of different factors.

Hosted vs. self-hosted platform

Self-hosted eCommerce platforms are hosted on servers that you acquire through a hosting provider. With a self-hosted eCommerce platform, you need to set up your online store from the ground up and manage its infrastructure all by yourself. A few examples of self-hosted eCommerce platforms are:

  • Zen Cart
  • Magento Community Edition
  • WooCommerce

A hosted or ‘managed’ eCommerce platform, on the other hand, is hosted on a server that you don’t have access to but it’s a straightforward and hassle-free option where you just log in and start selling. However, the disadvantage with it is that it gets expensive as you grow. Below are a few examples of hosted eCommerce platforms that can be used in Sri Lanka:

  • ShopBox
  • WebXPay
  • Shopify

Think about integration

If you already own a well established website or blog, integrating your eCommerce store with your site is a good idea and doing so is one of the best user acquisition tactics. Take, for example, platforms like Shopify. It allows easy integration of a store to an existing website but the main disadvantage is that the ability to customize your store will be limited.

Another option is to to opt for an Ecommerce solution that is built on your existing platform. For example, if you’re running a blog on WordPress, you can then pick a platform that is built on WordPress, like WooCommerce. And because you’re already used to the user interface, it can also help you easily get your online store up and running with WordPress.

  • Automate your marketing efforts

If you have been running a website or blog for a while, then you will likely be aware of the impact and importance of email marketing. But when you get started with an eCommerce business, you’ll need to start using advanced tools to scale your marketing efforts to further grow and expand your business.

Email marketing is one of the best ways for you to build a solid user base for your eCommerce business. With email marketing, you can take potential leads and convert them into paying customers.

The success of your eCommerce business lies with how well you qualify your leads and convert them into customers.


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