Ecommerce is here to stay
With unparalleled, and in all likelihood, continued growth in information technology, internet access and online consumer spending, getting your business online and ecommerce enabled should be a priority. Not only does an online presence open your business up to exciting new opportunities, but in order for most businesses selling products or services to really thrive long-term, providing an online sales channel is essential.
“Ecommerce sales topped $1 trillion for first time in 2012…This year, sales will grow 18.3% to $1.298 trillion worldwide” eMarketer
Tapping into this growing pool of online consumer spending should be something your business is making the most of. There are of course things you need to consider and address when moving online, such as security concerns, data-protection, possible technology gaps between providers and users, levels of online customer service and fulfilment and so on. But any potential teething problems are minor in comparison to the opportunities the internet provides.
10 reasons to get your business online and ecommerce enabled
1. Reach a new, global audience
The internet enables even the smallest of businesses to access audiences far vaster than can be reached through traditional channels alone. A small business or start-up can reach corners of the globe previously only accessible to multinationals’ with large marketing budgets. The internet can help maintain a competitive advantage by opening your business up to a new global audience and also through sourcing potential new suppliers and distributors.
2. Increased interaction with your customers
An online presence provides your business with the opportunity to increase communications with customers through interactive elements such as product review’s, customer feedback , email newsletters, discussion forums and blogs. Through real-time feedback you can get to know your customers’ expectations and thoughts on your products and services. This insightful information can then be used to improve customer relations and fed back into business planning.
3. Your business is open 24 hours, seven days a week
The beauty of ecommerce is that your business can be taking orders and purchases all day, everyday. Whilst you’re tucked up in bed your business is still working for you, processing orders from customers from the other side of the world - ensuring you don’t miss out on valuable sales. An online store gives your current and potential customers the convenience and ability to shop when they want.
4. Level playing field
The internet enables businesses the opportunity to compete on a level playing field with even the biggest of competitors. In addition to low start-up costs, the availability of a number of excellent free tools (webs analytics, DIY site builders, social media and so on) gives even the smallest of businesses an equal footing with the big guys.
5. Data tracking and gathering
Analytics provides instantaneous access to your websites’ data. It can tell you all sorts of insightful, real-time information about customer behaviour, web traffic, conversion rates, bounce rates – all of which can be fed into your business planning and strategy. And a lot of it is available for free.
6. Low start-up and maintenance costs
Getting your business online needn’t cost the world. The are a number of free do-it-yourself website platforms available to get you started no matter how new or small your business is. And, the cost of maintaining a virtual store is far lower than the bricks and mortar equivalent.
7. Reduce marketing and advertising costs
There are all sorts of low cost digital marketing activities you can engage in to improve your online visibility. If you are prepared to put in time and effort you can undertake inbound marketing techniques such as Search Engine Optimisation, link building, social media, blogs, Pay Per Click advertising, none of which require a large marketing budget.
8. Flexibility and Speed
The internet provides your business with speed and flexibility. You can set up an online shop in a matter of minutes and adapt your website quickly and easily to respond to market trends or competitor activity. Mass communication with customers can be almost instantaneous through social media and email.
9. Keep up with your competitors
You need to stay competitive and not get left behind – the likelihood is that even if your competitors aren’t all online yet they will be soon. And because the internet provides transparency – there is no quicker and easier way to keep on top of what your competitors are doing than monitoring their websites.
10. Reduce processing costs and receive payments quicker
An online store can reduce many processing and transaction costs and enable you to receive payments into your bank account much quicker than through more traditional methods.
Finally, if you’re still hesitating….
How is this for an encouraging statistic. According to a recent report by the Lloyd’s Banking Group (Britain’s Digital Opportunities Report 2012), there is a distinct link between having an internet presence and growth in turnover. Findings indicated that the businesses who were reporting an increased turnover were more likely to have a company website, felt the internet was very important to their organisation and used the internet daily.
Getting your business online and ecommerce ready really isn’t as daunting as first it may seem and there is plenty of help out there. Most website platform providers offer some excellent templates and hosted, third party shopping cart software can be a quick and simple way to turn your website into an online store. And if you’re just starting out, don’t worry, your website and online shop doesn’t need to be all singing and dancing straight away. The beauty of the internet is that you can evolve and adapt your presence with relative ease to reflect market trends, consumer expectations and your own business requirements.Image courtesty of Feelart at FreeDigitalPhotos.Net