10 Practical Ways E-commerce can Help Small Businesses Grow
Nowadays, the Internet is becoming part of our basic needs. We use to look for directions, to notify when our favorite items will be on sale, as well as when we need to buy something, but we are too lazy to go out of the house.
On the other hand, business owners are using the Internet to expand their customer reach and increase their revenue. The growing number of a resource guide for small business owners is a testament to that.
If you are still contemplating whether to build an online presence for your retail store, here are ten ways of moving to e-commerce can help your business.
It Helps You Build Your Online Reputation
While retail stores usually generate new customers through word-of-mouth, this can be quite challenging to leverage.
On the other hand, having an online presence could mean that you are open to receiving customer reviews and testimonials online. These are available to the public and can influence other potential customers to make a transaction with you or not.
Nevertheless, you can use this as part of your digital marketing strategy. You can feature good customer reviews while showcasing excellent customer support for the negative one. Just remember to discern which one is a legit concern and which is just being a troll.
In addition, your customers will be compelled to share their experience on their social networks, regardless if it is a good or bad online shopping experience. It is similar to word-of-mouth but through online platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. Thus, it is easier to spread the news about your brand.
It Helps You Maximize Your Marketing Efforts
According to a Square and Mercury Analytics research, 51% of shoppers prefer to buy products online. In addition, 67% of millennials and 56% of Gen Xers would forgo retail stores and would rather order online.
This means that there is a growing number of people who prefer to buy online. If you would like for your small business to grow, this is something that you should not miss!
As mentioned earlier, word-of-mouth can be quite a challenge to take advantage of. Meanwhile, having an online presence makes it easier for you to expand your reach. That’s because you are no longer limited by your location.
With proper website optimization and digital marketing tactics applied, you can promote your business and products to people from different parts of the world. Not to mention that you can even ensure that you are only driving qualified traffic to your business.
Setting up an e-commerce business can definitely make a huge impact on your sales and revenue.
It Helps You Stand Out From the Competition
As mentioned earlier, there is an increasing number of people who prefer to buy products online. Do you wonder why?
It is because of convenience.
According to Rose Leaden, people like to shop online because an online store is open 24/7. It also allows them to compare item prices, look for deals, and have a lot of choices.
Come to think of it. People tend to realize what they need when you least expect it.
Meanwhile, e-commerce has grown by 300% over the last few years. It is also expected to comprise 17.5% of worldwide retail sales by 2021, and to hit sales amounting to over 4.8 billion USD in the next few years.
Thus, it is important that you learn and adapt to e-commerce as soon as you can. That way, you can stand out from the rest and get ahead of the competition.
It Helps You Customize Your Buyers’ Shopping Experience
What divides online shopping from visiting a retail store is the experience.
Imagine that you are buying a pair of pants. If you buy online, you will not have any idea whether the pants would fit you. You cannot touch or feel the fabric. And you will be unable to know how it feels on your skin.
On the other hand, you can do all of these if you go shopping in a retail store. The only caveat is that a retail store is not open 24/7.
However, this should not discourage you from building an online store. In fact, there are available tools that can help youcustomize a customer’s online shopping experience.
Dorit Sasson points out that user-friendly tools can make a customer’s online shopping experience close to real-life. So, instead of letting them spend hours on finding the right pair of pants, give them customized search tools that can help them do just that.
It Allows Your Business to be Open 24/7
Another advantage of having an e-commerce business is that you can operate 24/7. You may have a customer from Australia while your customers in the UK are asleep.
However, that does not mean that you should not sleep. What’s cool about e-commerce is that you can automate your inventory management.
You can set a fixed number of availability per item. And whenever someone successfully bought it, the number of availability will be automatically reduced.
When you wake up, and you find that your items sold out, you can get ahead with production and replenish your online inventory. In fact, you do not necessarily have to wait for your items to be sold out before replenishing them.
In addition, you can outsource your online customer support to make sure that there are people who can cater to inquiries. Doing so can help reduce your operation cost even when operating 24/7.
It Helps You Automate Your Inventory System
Other than automating your inventory management, having e-commerce makes it easy for you to track your inventory.
As posted on The Daily Telegraph, “Selling online means you can track your inventory easily and see what is being purchased, by whom and when.”
Doing so can make it easy for you to determine whether an item is still worth producing or not. It can also help you create marketing ideas.
For instance, you notice that a particular pair of pants are selling well in California, while another one performs well in Arizona. You can leverage this information by giving discounts on particular items for people living in specific states. You can also customize their shopping experience based on their location by labeling the other item as sold out.
Nonetheless, having an e-commerce business and being data-centric could help you branch out into other areas.
It Helps You Analyze Customer Data
Speaking of being data-centric, it is easy to back your business decision with data when you have an online store. One of these tools is Google Analytics.
According to The Daily Telegraph, free Google Analytics tools can give you an insight of your customers’ origin, where they are clicking on your website, and the amount of time they spend on your site.
So, what can you do with this information? This data helps you make an informed decision on how you can best serve your online customers.
If you are seeing that there is a particular page where your website visitors leave often, then you can consider optimizing that page.
If a large number of traffic are coming from a particular country, then you might want to consider making a localized version of your website. You can also opt to feature and sell products from their local producers.
If you are seeing that a lot of people are coming to your website using a specific keyword, then consider how you can leverage it to drive qualified traffic.
It Helps You Lower Operation Costs
Aside from being able to operate 24/7, having an online store allows you to create business anywhere in the world without putting up a brick-and-mortar store.
According to Puneet Bhalla, one of the advantages of having an online store is that you do not have to build a physical one on where you want to sell your products or services. A single e-commerce business would do that for you.
Furthermore, this can lower your operation costs. Since you do not necessarily need to build a physical store or rent a place in a mall, this means that you do not need to shell out a hefty sum to market anywhere.
Even if you have the budget, it is a better idea to use it to improve and optimize international shipping and logistics.
It Helps You Expand Your Business
A physical store is all about location. If you set up shop somewhere with minimal foot traffic, do not expect sky-high revenue. However, you can boost this with the help of e-commerce.
Since having an online business means you can market and sell products to anyone in the world, it helps expand your reach. Not to mention that you can make your business visible through online ads, social media marketing, search engine optimization, and more.
Sasson points out that an increase in visibility and sales allows you to target audience worldwide.
All you need is a domain name, a reliable web host, and e-commerce management system, and make sure that you have your customer services, and logistics set up. That way, you can ensure seamless and cost-effective business expansion.
It Helps You Increase Your Profit Margin
According to Francesca Nicasio, your profit margin is a metric that indicates whether your business is making money or not. Thus, if it is not increasing, then it means that your business is not thriving.
Here are some quick tips on how e-commerce can help increase your profit margin:
- Optimize your operations cost. Find ways to eliminate wasteful spending and automate repetitive tasks to reduce overhead costs.
- Find ways to lower production cost. Always consider how a product’s raw material can contribute to the costing, and consider how you can lower it (i.e., bulk order from suppliers).
- Ensure 100% inventory visibility. Improve your inventory management and have a handle of fast and slow movers to ensure inventory visibility.
- Increase your product’s perceived value. You can do this by focusing on how your products would benefit your customers.
- Be “smart” by giving product discounts — a test which types of promotions can help you make money.
Ultimately, having an online store means you can expand your customer reach. This can result in an increase in your sales and revenue.
If you are not internet savvy, it can be a challenge to adopt e-commerce for your business. However, proper guidance, extensive research about e-commerce marketing, and professional help can get you started. Doing so could mean that you are set to reap the rewards of having an online presence for your business.