Behind the scenes of an online store

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online storeonline store

Behind the scenes of an online store

Online shopping has become more popular in South Africa over the past few years. The ease, convenience and offers from online stores makes any person, who receives their monthly salary notification from the bank, excited.

Every business starts with an idea and works towards a goal and, most of the time, consumers only see the end goal without realising what goes into getting the product there. With online stores, it’s not an entirely digital industry which is usually misunderstood as every interaction between company and customer, generally, happens online.

There’s a lot that goes on behind the scenes of an online store.



The role of a retail buyer is to source and review the products that are going to be sold online. Whether they have an agreement to sell established brands or are creating their own products from scratch. The planning and purchasing of what is required is up to them.

This means they are responsible for attending product-related events and keeping up with the industry’s trends and the public’s demands. They work closely with designers and, ultimately, decide which products get shot and posted for sale on the online store’s website. They are in the know of the target market and buy the merchandise they know will sell.



If you don’t opt for a retail buying business and are wanting to manufacture your own goods then there will be an entire manufacturing system in place to mass produce products. These online stores will likely still have a buyer of sorts to fetch and sample materials for production, but the business won’t be relying on other brands for stock.


Product shooting

Once the product has been bought and delivered or has been created and manufactured, it’s time to have a photoshoot. Product shooting is an important part of the behind the scenes process because this is what gets the online customer’s fingers itching to click on the “add to cart” button.

It’s the main marketing factor that not only displays the product, but gives people a good idea of how it fits or looks like on a person or in a living area (depending on the products sold). It should be the equivalent experience of walking into a clothing store and “just browsing”. But also, it needs to be better because the ability to touch and try on is not possible.

Along with product shooting comes product descriptions that need to be written. Once everything is edited and prepared, it can be uploaded to the site and ready for consumption.


Website design

Having a flawless online store means your ecommerce site has to be optimised for online users and all their possible mediums through which they may be browsing. It needs to have a quick loading time (especially with all the product images), have simple and easy navigation, have a trusted online payment system (with a variety of options), be designed to advertise offers and sales and look professional.

The website is the portal of first impressions, before any products are even considered. A lot of time goes into making sure that the online store’s website doesn’t crash, is always optimised and that all actions on the site run smoothly and consistently.



Then we have the packaging department. Some stores do it themselves, while others work through a third party packaging unit. These warehouses are filled with boxes, bubble wrap, tape and production lines. Customers appreciate a well-packaged item because it promises a product that has remained in perfect condition and that’s exclusively for their eyes only.

Not only that, but the opening of a delivery box gives people the feeling of a birthday every single time. Once a product has been ordered from the site, the packaging warehouse needs to collect the product and make sure it’s correctly wrapped and protected for transport.



The next step is getting the product to the customer. And that’s through a distribution unit and transport solutions. The size of the trucks or courier company you use will depend on the size, weight and amount of products you distribute at one time.

If you are an online furniture company, for example, then looking into the DAF truck Babcock transport solutions would be a viable option. Even more so if you deliver countrywide and need to deliver over long distances. But you will know, based on your capacity, what type of distribution measures you need to keep business processes smooth and customers happy.


Customer service

And another aspect of online stores that many customers “know” about is the customer service department. All the usual customer complaints revolve around the usual late delivery and delivery tracking issues, then there are a few damaged product or packaging calls and occasionally expressed frustrations with the online process as a whole. Things get slightly more complicated when a customer wishes to return an item and it’s not always as simple as it would be in a physical retail store.

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