Though this question is coming up lesser and lesser frequently these days (as almost all businesses are into it by now), let’s start with it: Why does your business need an online presence? Quintessentially, a traditional brick and mortar business has these shortcomings –
- Their customer-base comprises of a limited area (concerning the nearby locality only)
- They may or may not have sufficient footfalls to keep the business going (adding to profits, I mean)
- Finally, just like the pandemic, any other unforeseen emergencies could hit the business hard and lack of the owner’s physical presence could culminate into shutdowns even!
Do not worry about whether you have an existing business or you’re about to start anew. Taking a business online (whether new or existing) takes similar efforts. Goes without saying, you needn’t be too dexterous to handle your business online! Resorting to e-commerce would bear the following fruits –
Round-the-clock availability to customers
Although sectors like healthcare, gas stations, restaurants, etc. do offer a 24×7 service round the year, it is pretty much arduous for all and sundry to do so! Imagine you own a garments store or a grocery, and you plan to be operational for all hours in a day; the staff requisites, electricity consumption, and everything would touch exorbitant levels, won’t they?
An online presence, on the other hand, could give you leads any time of the day! People often prefer to research on the bed after being done with the entire day’s chores. They might come across your product or service, place an inquiry or even order the product even when it’s not even business hours! When you are back to work the next morning, you can follow up with the prospective customer.
Can you imagine how low your start-up cost would be?
Compare an online store to a brick-and-mortar one. Is there any significant setting up cost that you can think of apart from building an eye-catching website? No building costs, no vehicles to buy, no department staff, no electricity costs (on a commercial scale)! So, you now have ample resources to spend on your site. However, trust, doing the job on a shoestring could scale your business equally high only with proper marketing strategies in place!
So, on that note, you can do away with the sales personnel too! Digital marketing is in place today and it is essentially a host of strategies and techniques applicable to raise the ranking of your business in SERPs (search engine result pages). A dynamic website – well-built with a comprehensive FAQs section, interactive videos that tell the story of your business, blogging, email marketing, content marketing, etc. are digital marketing strategies that can reach your business to thousands of potential buyers across borders!
The best customer support ever
When you are available to your target audience 24×7, this is roped in automatically. With an interactive website in place, you can solve most of your customer’s queries via the FAQ section or by creating a video that addresses a common problem. Moreover, in today’s world, you are just a phone call away from your buyer. So, solving their issues coupled with contributing to generating their interest in your business can be handled over a call only!
Work from anywhere and target the global market
No matter whichever part of the globe you are in, you can manage your enterprise as long as you have a steady internet connection. You can even go for a business expansion and venture out your enterprise in any other part of the world that you wish to. Unless otherwise, if you are in a profession that calls for a physical presence like that of a doctor, caregiver, plumbing services, and so on, you cannot possibly reap the benefits of the internet!
Your choice of an e-commerce platform
If you’ve already made up your mind to switch to e-commerce, here’s how you could go about it. At this juncture, make yourself acquainted with the concepts of e-business and e-commerce. To put it very lucidly, in the case of the former, if the electronic medium fails (for instance, emails or online orders are not in their flow due to technical interruption) the business process keeps going. It is then executed through the physical form – paperwork, physical store, etc.
On the other hand, a business is identified as e-commerce when all aspects of a business – from ordering to making payments (using gateways) to raising queries or issues and everything – are handled online. You can again segment e-commerce into B2B (business-to-business) and B2C (business-to-customers) but we will not get into those details here.
What are the significant factors to consider when choosing an e-commerce platform?
They’re as follows:
The best e-commerce platforms allow seamless app integrations for marketing, reward programs payments, etc.
Your website theme makes up the overall design of your e-commerce store. Website themes can be free or paid. Premium themes can help make your online store stand out for a unique shopping experience.
What online platform offers flexible payment options? Consumers find using digital wallets a fast and easy way to pay for products online nowadays, aside from credit and debit cards.
Ensure that the e-commerce platform complies with industry standards for security, including secure socket layer or SSL and payment card industry or PCI compliance.
A self-managed e-commerce business
At the start of all this (businesses changing into online stores), entrepreneurs attempted at building their personal e-commerce platforms. From design to development to backend maintenance – all of it used to be managed in-house.
Online store maintenance essentially incorporates a lot of parameters – be it payment gateways, maintaining a customer database, resolving customer issues, inventory database, production and sales records, and so on. However, in-house management is now becoming lesser and lesser popular. That’s because you need full-time professionals today to dig into the strategic and technical intricacies of competing online!
With a self-managed e-commerce platform, you can enjoy complete control of what’s going on with your business. However, as you grow your online business, you may need other people’s help to ensure secure, fast-moving, and successful day-to-day operations.
Hiring remote employees or outsourcing some tasks is a good idea. For instance, you can hire professional writers with a search engine optimization (SEO) and digital marketing background to improve your content and social media marketing.
A vendor managed e-commerce platform
Vendor management is the need of the hour and vendors deal with the following –
- The optimization techniques and strategies for different search channels are evolving day by day. They are growing fast both are number and in tactics too. One needs dedicated professionals to handle these ‘requisites of the internet’. After all, as a business owner, you cannot afford to wrack your brains with your website’s ranking all day long!
- The tech team behind your site not only does the day-to-day maintenance job but also works on the betterment and optimization of the user experience!
So, choose a vendor that can provide excellent WordPress maintenance or any e-commerce site you desire to use. In this way, your top talents can focus on developing sales and marketing strategies to achieve a successful online business.
There is no doubt that one can build an affordable eCommerce Website with WordPress, Shopify, or Magento and can integrate various cloud-hosted platforms through configured APIs. Indeed, building a customized platform ensures smooth operation accompanied by better control —is well worth the investment.