Do you run a business that’s doing well and you’re wondering how to expand sales globally? Are you hesitant to interrupt into e-commerce due to security concerns, or just a scarcity of understanding that element of business?
If you’re in any kind of retail or are thinking of it, or if that’s where your clients are, there’s never a better time to gain a better understanding of what it takes to sustain an e-commerce business.
According to Entrepreneur, plenty of people will continue to shop in-store, and this market is still far larger than online shoppers. Online shopping is expected to grow at a great pace, with 56% of Gen Xers and 67% of millennials in the US being the most likely demographics to make purchases.
It’s actually important that you simply study e-commerce as soon as you’ll because it (especially mobile e-commerce) has grown by 300% over a previous couple of years with revenue of $700 billion in the US just last year. It is expected to make up 17.5% of global retail sales by 2021 (up from 7.4% in 2015), and sales are predicted to hit $4,878 billion in the next few years.
It goes without saying that brick-and-mortar setups are bound by location, and depending on your product or service, this could be key to your revenue. But even if you think that your business ‘needs’ to stay local, expanding globally could allow you to expand into new facets of your business.
For instance, if your business is primarily service-based, you may want to complement your local offerings with products that people can purchase online from you, such as a hairdresser offering speciality accessories. It may also be that you are able to tap into the travel and tourism market more easily if you move towards online selling.
Because e-commerce tends to carry far lower costs than brick-and-mortar setups, adding an online component to your existing business doesn’t need to be a high-risk investment and in fact, in most cases would be a much better choice than opening another storefront if that’s something that you simply feel you’ll easily lose money on.
Why is it a lower cost to run an online store? Here are a few important points to note:
Sales on Advertising
Digital advertising is inexpensive compared to traditional channels and can be more easily adjusted to fit varying budgets. You can use a blend of traditional and digital to market your entire operation, or even switch to primarily digital and save a lot of money.
Email is just one example of a simple digital tool that remains a cost-effective and simple way to send information to segmented markets (check out a simple tool like MailChimp if you’re looking to get started on email marketing).
Save on Staff
You won’t have to pay in-person staff and in fact, could consider integrating something like a chatbot into your social media and customer service activities instead of living help. You may also want to hire an overseas virtual assistant or marketing specialist if you are looking for people to handle customer service or other activities on a 24-hour basis.
Save on Rent
There will be some initial costs to do with web setup and maintenance – for instance, integrating a Shopify account into your current website, or even doing an overhaul. Shopify costs only a few thousand per year, and for this fee, you also get to use other built-in features that will help you run our business more smoothly. This is especially the case if you are already paying for space to store inventory and are willing to ship from your location.
Better Targeting & More Personalization
Digital marketing and selling models such as those that use e-commerce may allow you to gather, synthesize, and use customer information and data more easily than traditional channels. This is especially the case when you consider retention activities like customer loyalty programs – essentially you can track their buying habits more carefully which offers the opportunity to target marketing and promotional efforts in a more accurate way.
To this end, you’ll also find that there are greater opportunities to personalize your promotions and other offerings as you have data about your customers integrated automatically into the system. If you know how Amazon “recommends” items that it thinks you like, you can easily do that as well. You can also segment and personalize supported specific location, spending habits, or cart abandonment rates.
Upselling and cross-selling may also become easier as you are not stuck with an uncomfortable face-to-face situation where the customer may be turned off if they feel pressured. You can simply provide suggestions for add-ons as a neighborhood of the handcart process and let the customer go from there.
Different Traffic Streams
You probably have already got an internet site found out to support your business, but is it getting much traffic? Developing an online presence can help you understand your market better so that you can offer them new and innovative products as well as promote your on-the-ground store.
How do you do this? Search Engine Optimization on your site is key and digital marketing strategies can be huge when it comes to customer research and targeting your marketing both online and offline.
Easily Scale and Grow
The advantage of running a business online is one can simply optimize and scale budget in accordance with all aspects of the business, and it’s not too difficult to scale your business do you have to see your customer base expand and grow.
For instance, if you are running Facebook ads, you can easily adjust these in accordance with purchasing behavior. And even if you find some dips or shrinkage – say, if your offerings tend to be seasonal, you can adjust your marketing and inventory in accordance with these changes as well.
A more Pleasant Customer Experience
For many tech-savvy individuals who are used to making online purchases, they may not know that for a lot of people who are used to it, it’s just a smoother and more comfortable experience for many. Not only does a customer not need to leave the comfort of their own home, but they also get to avoid traffic, parking, and pushy salespeople trying to upsell or interrupt your conversation with a friend.
When a shop is set upright, the ease of searching, browsing, and ordering can easily outweigh the extra shipping cost. This is especially the case if special features such as live chats that are set up to answer customer questions 24-7, a feat which is becoming more and more affordable if you consider overseas outsourcing or chatbots.
If you can keep your shop open 24-7 and you are able to expand your offerings to a global audience, this means that you have the potential to create a passive income stream – that is, your revenue doesn’t necessarily rely on great salespeople or opening hours. When you and your customers are no longer restricted by logistics such as location and time of day, you have plenty of opportunities to boost revenue in new ways.
In a general sense, it’s typically pretty easy, low-risk and low-cost to start out an e-commerce business, whether or not you have already got a brick-and-mortar store. So long as you choose your products wisely and have an appropriate business plan, there are many potentials for passive income and high ROI over the future.
E-commerce certainly may not be right for everyone, or it may not even be the right time for you, but it’s important to consider an e-commerce-based strategy if you have a retail operation or maybe thought you would like to place into action over subsequent several years.