E-commerce for Small Businesses: A Guide

e-commerce platform

Large stores and major brands used to be the only ones who could sell on the internet. Not any longer.

E-commerce selling has been much more accessible to small enterprises in recent years. It’s easier than ever to create an online storefront for your e-commerce store with cost-effective e-commerce technology and outsourced options.

However, how can you know if e-commerce is good for your small business?

Consumers are increasingly buying products online as the internet becomes more accessible and online shopping experiences evolve. In fact, internet buying has grown in popularity to the point that e-commerce selling is no longer a “nice to have,” but rather a requirement. With the epidemic driving many people to stay at home during the previous two years, this behavioral change has been accelerated.

According to a PwC poll performed in March 2021, 50% of respondents have become more digital since the last survey in October 2020. More people were buying online daily than in the previous study.

Consumer behavior had switched toward internet shopping even as businesses began to open. For example, PYMNTS discovered that in mid-April 2020, when most local physical stores were closed, 29 percent of US consumers were buying retail goods online. Even though brick-and-mortar retailers began to reopen in May of the same year, the figure had risen to over 36%.

Aside from COVID-related worries, it appears that consumers have become accustomed to the convenience of online shopping. And because this transformation is likely to be permanent, small businesses must move to e-commerce to cater to their customers and increase their reach.

Why do Small Businesses need an Ecommerce Component?

Having an online storefront is a must in today’s market. Too many businesses have failed to do this and have lost out on millions of dollars in revenue. Having an online presence is the best way to market your products and gain more visibility. Today’s consumers are turning increasingly to the internet to get their shopping fix. They want it fast and they want it now. If you’re a small business owner and don’t have an eCommerce site, you need to get on it or you’ll lose out on a lot of sales!

#1 Analytics of Customer buying from an online store
Old businesses practice Traditional sales. Traditional sales have very limited analytical capabilities.
But having an online e-commerce store is very helpful for knowing the customer analysis. It gives you insight into what the customers are looking for, what is trending, and what are they buying.
Analytics is the process of collecting and analyzing data about the behavior of visitors to a website. The collected data is used to assess, estimate, and predict future outcomes and trends.
This data is often collected using special software and can be used to help make decisions to improve the website.

This will help the online shop owner to improve the products they offer based on the choice and demand of the customers.

#2 Search Engine Traffic on E-Commerce Store

Over half of all shoppers use search engines to research potential purchases, so having an online presence is essential. You can build a web presence without an eCommerce store, but adding one can give you access to attention and markets that would otherwise be unavailable.

There are many factors that contribute to a website’s SEO ranking, such as page load speed, relevant keywords, mobile friendliness, and website structure. This can seem like a lot to think about when optimizing your site, but by breaking it down into smaller tasks, it can be much more manageable.

There are luckily many eCommerce platforms that provide built-in SEO tools. This offers several SEO tools out of the box, such as optimized URLs, unique URLs, microdata, a content delivery network as well as 301 redirects and URL rewrites. Additionally, tools like category pages, product landing pages, and product descriptions are great for SEO purposes. Your eCommerce site can attract both users researching area options and those considering buying online.

#3 Automate the Marketing Engine

Marketing has changed a lot in recent years. Nowadays, it’s not just about ads in the local paper or sale signs in your front window. Online advertising is extremely popular, and it’s only growing. Your e-commerce platform can essentially function as an all-in-one automated marketing engine, providing a way to drive ads and direct traffic to boost sales.

Making purchases online is much different than going to a physical store. Customers don’t have to worry about driving to your shop or carrying around cash. Instead, they can click on your ad and be taken to a dedicated landing page. From there, making a purchase is just a few easy steps. You can then use email marketing to reach them with other products they might like. This is a benefit otherwise unavailable, and failing to embrace these opportunities can cost your online business quite a bit.

#4 Improving Customer Experience

One reason to create an online store is to improve the customer experience. An online store is available 24/7 and can be accessed from anywhere. This convenience can save time and money.

Your customers want more than just a limited page with your hours and contact information; they want the robust, omnichannel experience that your competition can provide.

Since customers can’t see, touch, or try on products online, you’ll need to build a level of trust with customers so that they’re willing to buy. You can do this by offering augmented and virtual try-on, try-on-at-home offers, or flexible return policies. This way, your customers will feel just as comfortable purchasing online as they would in-store.

#5 Usability of Mobile

In today’s world, it’s not just about having a website that potential customers can browse through. With mobile commerce becoming increasingly popular, if you don’t have an eCommerce platform that offers a great mobile experience or a dedicated mobile app, you’ll fall behind.

 

Mobile_ECommerce_Sales_in_US_from_2018_to_2025
Mobile Commerce Sales in the US from 2018 to 2025

 

It’s essential to keep your focus on more than just desktop devices. Even though desktops usually have a higher conversion rate than smartphones, there’s no denying that customers rely heavily on mobile experiences. Make sure they’re optimal and user-friendly, and you’ll be successful.

Choosing Whether Or Not An E-Commerce Store Is Appropriate For Your Company?

While you may be eager to begin selling online right away, you may be overwhelmed by the numerous aspects to consider:

  • Where are you going to establish the shop?
  • Will you sell exclusively through an online marketplace or will you have your website?
  • What method will you use to distribute orders?
  • Will you allow customers to pick up their orders in-store?

Even the concept of setting up and operating an online store can be stressful for many business owners. Fortunately, thanks to an abundance of sophisticated technology, running an e-commerce company is a breeze after you’ve sorted out the essentials.

But, before you get into the technology, take a look at what you should think about before launching an e-commerce store for your small business.

Are You Confident In Your Ability To Create And Maintain A Website?

One of the first decisions you’ll have to make is whether or not you’ll sell on your website. If you don’t feel comfortable maintaining a website, you don’t have to have one. Even if you don’t have a website, you can sell through markets like Amazon Marketing Services and Facebook Marketplace.

However, having your website will give your company more legitimacy, so it’s something you should think about. You don’t need to be a tech whiz to build a website. Many website builders provide pre-made e-commerce website templates that you may alter to fit your needs. Hiring a web designer to create a bespoke look for your store is another alternative.

Is Your Target Market Confined To A Specific Geographical Area?

If you’ve been operating solely offline, your physical location may have limited you. As a result, a drop in foot traffic could be disastrous for your organization.

Taking your business online is a terrific method to contact customers who would not have purchased from you otherwise due to a lack of physical closeness to your location.

How Much Money Do You Have To Invest To Expand Your Web Presence?

When it comes to starting an e-commerce site, a budget may be the most important consideration for many small businesses. The assumption is that the costs of hosting, web design, e-commerce management, and shipping will add up to a substantial sum. Ecommerce selling, however, may not be as pricey as you think with the correct tools and services. If you already have the inventory, getting started with the necessities can cost as low as a few hundred dollars.

What Marketing Strategy Will You Use To Drive Sales?

Because you’re going down a completely different path than the typical marketing strategies you would have utilized for your physical store, marketing is crucial. Search engine marketing and display advertising are both efficient methods for getting your store in front of the correct customers. If you’re on a low budget, you’ll have to market your internet store through a strong social media presence.

Customers who frequent your store can be your most effective marketing channel if you already have a solid customer base. To attract more clients to your online storefront, ask them to help you spread the word about your business to their online friends. Word-of-mouth marketing strategies such as reviews and testimonials are quite effective.

What Are Your Objectives For Selling On The Internet?

The reasons for starting an online business can also define and shape the rest of your approach. While some firms are merely interested in finding new ways to sell to their local clients, others desire to expand their small businesses and improve revenues through e-commerce orders.

These various objectives each have their own set of issues and would necessitate varying amounts of expenditure. For instance, in the first scenario, firms may not need to invest heavily in a website and may be able to continue operating through online markets. In the latter case, though, having a website is a must because you want to develop a respectable internet presence.

What Method Will You Use To Pack And Send Your Orders?

A crucial consideration is packaging and shipment. Some small businesses may prefer to sell exclusively online and have local consumers pick up their goods in-store, while others may prefer to provide local delivery. Many small firms, on the other hand, may seek to expand outside their local market and provide nationwide shipping. Some companies may choose to package their items in unique packaging to increase brand awareness and improve the consumer experience.

Brands may need to think about cost-effective and environmentally friendly methods for packing and shipping orders. Because you need to connect with a shipping firm that can sustain an increase in demand over time, this can be a difficult sector to scale. Finding a third-party logistics partner with the technology and resources to satisfy your business’s increasing needs – even years down the road – is critical.

What To Look For When Selecting An e-commerce Platform For Your Small Business?

In order to open an online store, you’ll need an e-commerce platform. Small enterprises should carefully consider the following factors when choosing a platform:

Analytics

Analytics connectors or built-in analytics tools are required to gain a comprehensive picture of how your store is operating. You should be able to track important e-commerce KPIs like traffic conversion rate, revenue per visitor, average order value, and churn rate to understand where you can improve and how much ROI you’re getting.

Scalability

If you plan to expand your company in the future, consider whether the platform will allow you to do so easily. Is it compatible with any future integrations or additions that you might require? Is it versatile enough to accommodate the needs of a growing e-commerce company?

Website Performance And Speed

Usability and speed are also crucial factors to consider because they have an impact on the user experience. Make sure you choose a platform that will keep your website usable and accessible while also allowing it to load quickly.

Flexibility In Design

Will the platform allow you to make changes to your website design over time? Is it simple to make changes to the design on your own? Is there a large number of templates that you can quickly alter without having to know how to code?

Marketing

Many e-commerce platforms have marketing tools and connectors built-in, such as email marketing and Facebook advertising. This allows you to handle all parts of your e-commerce store from a single location.

Inventory And Order Management Via Multiple Channels

Is it possible to manage inventories and orders across numerous channels using the platform? This is especially critical if you’re selling through a variety of channels, including social media, your website, and online marketplaces.

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