If you’ve clicked on this article, you may fall into one of two categories. Either you’re a successful business owner who has a brick-and-mortar store or you’re a burgeoning entrepreneur who wants to start online and go from there. Whether you’re starting or growing your sales with an e-commerce store, the benefits are worth considering.
Every business wants more sales, and e-commerce provides a low-overhead way to get in front of your customers, provide unmatched convenience and increase your sales. Here are seven reasons why an e-commerce store is well worth your investment.
It’s popular (and growing)
The overhead is low
It’s easy to set up
It enables future sales
It’s convenient for customers
It legitimizes your business
It helps you stand out
E-commerce might not yet eclipse brick-and-mortar purchases, but 10 to 15 percent of all U.S. adults make online purchases on a weekly basis, according to the Pew Research Center. And while Cyber Monday is online retail’s biggest day of the year, 58 million Americans reported doing all of their holiday shopping online this year, according to the National Retail Federation.
If you’re trying to grow, e-commerce is cheap (more on that in a minute) and opens your business up to a large portion of the population that predominantly shops online. And it isn’t slowing down: eMarketer projects e-commerce sales to grow by up to 25 percent in 2018. With more purchases than ever being made on smartphones, it’s wise to look at your ideal customer profile and customer journey to assess whether you’re missing out on a huge sales opportunity by not tailoring your sales strategy to your buyers’ behavior.
Running your business at a brick-and-mortar location includes the costs of utilities, employee salaries, permits, equipment, insurance and rent. In contrast, your website and online shopping carts to host your transactions are easy to fund and run, even when you’re with a customer at your physical location, on the go, or asleep!
Buying a domain name can be as cheap as $10 per year and e-commerce platforms can range from $25 to $300 per month — not bad compared to the red tape you face with a retail location. You can splurge on a custom website or integrate a site from an easy website builder like Wordpress with a third-party shopping cart.
Instead of managing multiple storefronts to sell in your state or across the nation, your one online store can handle domestic as well as international sales. At the very least, an e-commerce store can provide you with passive sales with little effort on your part. And if you already accept credit card payments, you can opt for an all-in-one Merchant Account Provider and Payment Gateway so that one provider can conveniently handle your in-person and card-not-present transactions — no additional providers needed.
There are numerous easy-to-use online shopping carts, like HikaShop, that make selling a breeze. These carts are usually quite affordable and customizable and can be integrated with payment providers.
You can also start small. Adding a hosted checkout button to your website will allow you to remain hands-off with the transaction while your merchant provider handles it for you (along with the related PCI compliance). If you need more features, you can always then opt for a shopping cart with more customization and functionality to meet your customers’ needs.
With in-store purchases, your customer service and products determine whether a one-time shopper will become a repeat customer. With e-commerce purchases, you have additional ways to stay front and center with your visitors, even if they don’t make a purchase. These tactics include retargeting ads and email campaigns.
Letting visitors subscribe to updates gives you the opportunity to send them promotions, holiday greetings anniversary and birthday emails, and so much more. Then, when your visitors are ready to buy or have someone to shop for, you’re at the forefront of their minds.
Buyers like to compare before they make a purchase — why not be included in the decision-making process? Having an e-commerce store that allows you to showcase your inventory, pricing and product details will help you win more sales opportunities when shoppers are looking at your competitors and alternatives. This process is much more convenient than requiring a customer to visit your store to compare your product to what is available online saw online. If you aren’t online, the customer might not even know that your company or product exists! Make it easy and convenient for consumers to pick your products to drive sales and increase brand awareness.
So many businesses have a recognizable and likable online presence to the point where offering a compelling website and brand message is necessary to be taken seriously. Having an online presence, brand voice and clear message are persuasive and help legitimize your business. We’re all familiar with how large of a threat cybersecurity has become, and your customers are handing over their hard-earned money to you; honor them by providing a safe and secure e-commerce store and web presence so that they know they can trust you for their online and in-store purchases. The message you provide and the look of your site will impact the quality expectations consumers have, too.
Without an online store, it’s hard to differentiate yourself. You have to rely on people coming to your business and thinking, “Oh, I like this!” or “This is so different.” Again, make it convenient for consumers to know and like your business. Showcase how you’re different by owning your messaging, brand and marketing, and staying true to what you believe.
Knowing your customers helps immensely, as they’re the people you want your message to resonate with. Remember: If your message resonates with everyone, it resonates with no one. Understand your target market and your reason for being in the space, and then connect with your customers in a meaningful and truthful way. Doing so will help you stay above the fray and drive both e-commerce sales as well as subsequent in-store purchases.
Do you run a successful e-commerce store? What tips can you share with those just starting out? We’d love to hear your thoughts on this topic.