Let’s talk about e-commerce, discuss the different ways it’s used for business, and help you choose the best e-commerce option to match your needs.
So first, what do we mean when we say e-commerce? Well, it’s really just a fancy name for selling things online.
Now lets hear from Fiona at CandleBark Creations at how this benefited her business.
Bringing our product online has had a massive impact on our business, it’s just meant our whole sales can buy from us direct without us having to visit them, we’ve got our whole new market of corporate christmas cards. It just feels exciting from creating a business then to having people just looking at it and your not really doing anything and then the order comes through magically. They choose their design, they choose their greeting, add their logo and then they pay. So they can actually do everything online. It’s like having another sales person really, just doing it without you having to manage them.
People have been making online purchases on websites and mobile applications for a while now. And all kinds of businesses are finding ways to make use of e-commerce to achieve their sales goals online.
These goals vary, depending on the business. You might start with a simple goal, like “I want to offer customers the ability to send payments through the web.” Or, maybe you want a lot more—like a website that allows people to view and search your inventory, create customer accounts, and set up recurring orders.
So how do you get started with e-commerce for your business?
Your first step might be to simply offer a way for customers to transfer money to your business through the web. You can easily add payment services like eWay or PayPal to your website that make online payment easy. In many cases, your customer doesn’t even need to setup an account and can pay by credit card or direct debit.
If you’re starting to sell online from scratch, you might try an “off-the-shelf” service that includes e-commerce, like Squarespace or Wordpress. These services not only accept payments, but they also offer templates so you can easily add product pages to your website.
If you’re after a more bespoke solution, you might decide on a customised e-commerce service like Magento or Shopify. There are many options available, with features like product search, inventory management, checkout, customer accounts, order management and more.
E-commerce often brings to mind a sort of retail or shop-like experience. And indeed any business that sells products in a physical shop can also sell their products online too.
Offline customers can walk through the door of your furniture shop and browse the lounges, bookcases and beds on display. While online, customers should be able to see those same products by clicking around the pages of your online shop.
Even though customers won’t be able to sit on that lounge for sale or feel the fabric, your online shop can bring your products to life. You should include lots of photos, detailed descriptions, customer reviews, and even videos of the products.
This high-quality imagery and well-written content is like your online “product display” and can play a key role not only driving sales online, but in store as well.
Many customers now expect to be able to see your range and prices online. And they often use this to decide if it's worth visiting your store or not. Imagine you had to buy a new sofa - would you search for the locations of furniture stores in your city and drive to all of them to see what's available? In reality you're probably too busy to spend an entire weekend driving around looking at sofas. So instead you're much more likely to first browse these retailers websites, explore their range and narrow down your options to a handful of products at perhaps one or two stores.
The key take away here is that beyond taking online transactions, building an online store can play a vital role in driving offline sales too.
Now after you’ve sorted out how to sell products on your own website, your next step might be to look into other online marketplaces.
For example, you might also sell your furniture through sites like Amazon and eBay. If this is one of your goals, and you haven’t yet selected an e-commerce provider, just make sure that they support your multi-channel selling.
To sum up, whether you plan to offer a full-blown virtual version of your physical shop, or you’re just looking to accept payments online, e-commerce can be a really powerful tool for your business.
Next we’ll be helping you take those first steps into e-commerce. We’ll be examining your different options in more detail so you can know which one works best for your business. We’ll also be showing you how to re-engage with customers after their initial connection with you.
- what e-commerce is
- varying levels of e-commerce used in business
- how to match your needs to the options available.