"What do you want to achieve with the online shop?" asked Hugh.
"I want to supplement the shop's income." said Kate, "so that we can be more profitable."
"And what does that mean in terms of volume of orders? A hundred orders a month? A thousand? Ten thousand?"
"I really want 500 orders a month online."
"How many customers come to the real shop right now? As in, how many different people do you see in a month?"
"I'm not sure. It's probably around 500, but some of those would come back several times in a month."
"OK. Whichever way look look at it, you need customers from outside Aylesbury, which means advertising online. So if you're aiming for 500 new orders, you should build something solid, that works, and that brings people back to the site, and something that grows. When you get to 500 you should be fairly certain that the next month is going to bring more orders, and so on, month after month."
Kate was sceptical. "How can I be sure that this will happen? And what's it going to cost?"
"It's not cheap, but cheap will get you the results you're getting now. We know what works because we've done it before, but it will need your input."
Kate's problem now was that she couldn't spare the time, and John didn't want to. "What if I can't provide much input? Can you help?"
"We can provide more day-to-day help," said Hugh, "but it is more expensive. What about your shop assistant - er.. "
"Yes, can he spare any time?"
"Not really, but I think I might be able to persuade John's mum to get involved. She's started using an iPad and she loves it!"
"OK. That sounds good."
Hugh and Kate chatted about how the online shop would attract and retain customers, and Hugh promised to put some figures together. They agreed to ditch the getyourdomainsnowuk.biz shop and start again with a completely bespoke shop (though built on some readily-available open source software that Hugh had used before).
After 3 days, Hugh came back with a proposal and an estimate. The estimate contained the following figures*:
|bespoke online catalogue||£1000.00|
|integration with paypal and amazon payments||£1000.00|
|email list management and sales follow up||£1000.00|
|set up of blog||£1000.00|
|project management and training||£1000.00|
*Please note that the prices in the table above are completely made up; every shop is different and it is no use extrapolating these prices for your individual circumstances. A web developer will normally discuss your plans, and tailor the solution to your requirements, the speed at which you want to grow, the technology available at the time, and so on.
Although Hugh's pitch had sounded convincing, and he'd also included examples of websites that he'd built which were doing well in terms of sales and visitor numbers, Kate baulked at the cost. But she sat down with a spreadsheet and worked out the return in investment, and became calmer. "Once we hit the 500 sales mark", she thought, "it will take just 8 months for the profits to pay off the website."
She did think that John and Nancy would be difficult about the cost, and she resolved to get at least one more quote. She searched the internet for local web shops, found a few, and fired off some enquiries. She arranged meetings with the ones who seemed most friendly, and in due course received two more estimates, one cheaper than Hugh and one more expensive.
Then she organised a lunch with Nancy, and we'll find out more soon....