Why Is It Important to Take Your Business Online?
It’s How Consumers Want to Buy
Ecommerce has become the consumer norm. Because shopping online is much more convenient and offers a wider variety of product options, shoppers have quickly adjusted. Let’s face it; not many people would prefer leaving their house, driving to a busy shopping center, and then waiting in line to purchase something as trivial as a DVD or paper towels, when they could just order those goods online and have them delivered to their doorstep within days.
In fact, BigCommerce says “51% of Americans prefer to shop online in 2018.” Because customers do favor online shopping, Statista says ecommerce sales in the US are “projected to surpass 603.4 billion US dollars in 2021.”
The Benefits of Ecommerce
Starting and running an ecommerce business comes with a long list of benefits, including:
Convenient Experiences for Your Customers
Offering your products and services to customers no matter where they are – whether at home, at work or even traveling – adds a whole new level of convenience to your business. All customers have to do is visit your ecommerce site through their computer, tablet or smartphone, and place an order.
New Global Markets for Sellers
Before ecommerce, the vast majority of businesses were limited to a customer base within their geographic location. If a customer couldn’t easily drive to your location, you didn’t have their business. Now with ecommerce options available, online shoppers anywhere in the world can purchase from you.
Showcase Your Products and Reviews
When customers are shopping in a physical store location, there’s only so much information you can display to them. Even with signage, a sales rep, and the description on product packaging, the information a customer gets on in-store products isn’t as thorough as what you can easily provide them online.
In an online store, you have the unique opportunity to present your customers with a wide variety of useful information: customer reviews, price comparisons, ingredient lists, instructions for use (video or text), pictures of the product, and more.
Be Open for Business Around the Clock
People are busy, and when your business operates on limited working hours, you miss out on sales. For example, if your business is open from 8 A.M. - 5 P.M. on weekdays, you might not get much business from working professionals whose working hours are the same. Getting your business online means opening your doors 24/7 without having to physically be there – a win-win for both you and your customers.
You have different types of customers; why talk to them all the same way? To send messages targeted as narrowly as possible to your customers’ wants, interests and behaviors, it’s crucial to divide your customer base into segments. By doing so, you ensure that your messages are not only welcome in their inbox, but also enticing enough to click on and engage with, ultimately resulting in a sale.
NewsletterCreating a weekly or monthly email newsletter is a win-win: You get clicks, views and overall boosted performance, and your contacts get relevant and helpful information delivered right to their inbox. Although newsletters aren’t the place to showcase your promotional content, they are providing your contacts with a regular source of value, which warms them up for your offer emails.
Organic social media posts are an incredible tool for driving traffic to your ecommerce web pages for free. By building an audience and sharing relevant and engaging content on your social media profiles, you can drive a high volume of clicks without paying for advertising. Here are some of the most effective social media platforms for ecommerce businesses.
There’s a lot more to your brand than can be seen in a quick text post with a link and image. To demonstrate your products or services in a way that text and pictures can’t, try creating YouTube videos.
Experiment with all the social media platforms out there to find out which is most profitable for your online business.
Once you’ve mastered the basics of driving free traffic, you’ll soon be ready to venture into the world of digital advertising to promote your ecommerce website. There are two ways to launch an ad campaign: contextual advertising and search advertising.
Your Customers’ Location
When deciding whether or not you’ll charge for shipping, take your customers’ location into consideration. Are they mostly nearby, or in far away rural areas that incur surcharges? The further away your average customer, the greater overall shipping costs you’ll incur.
Depending on the ecommerce software you choose, collecting shipping fees can be easy or somewhat complicated. Simple solutions like Amazon Marketplace and PayPal automatically link directly with UPS and USPS to make the process of shipping easier. More complicated solutions will need to be integrated with add-ons from UPS, USPS or FedEx
Working With a Fulfillment House
Another shipping option once you have reached a significant size is to contract with a fulfillment house. Fulfillment houses manage your inventory and ship your goods, allowing you to focus on sales (as long as the product is ready for the fulfillment house to distribute).
Most ecommerce players will allow you to export your contact data as well as other data as a .csv file which equates to a spreadsheet in Excel or Google Sheets.
Here’s the data you’ll want to consider exporting should the situation arise: