Globally, eCommerce is pulling in $2.3 trillion a year. It could be a lucrative option for your business if you get it right. Online shopping can help you grow your market share and offer a convenient solution for the clients.
Top American brands have known about the value of of offering an online alternative for quite some time now. In the infographic compiled by redbrain.com you can see exactly how online sales have boosted the businesses for big brands.
If you understand your market well, ecommerce is something that could work for you. You would have to ask yourself a few basic questions before you spend any money on it, though.
Does My Market Want An Online Solution?
How many people would actually be interested in your proposed online solution? It wouldn’t hurt to do a poll of your existing client base to find out what their thoughts are. It may surprise you to learn that people do not always necessarily find that the online solution suits them.
Would They Actually Shop Online?
This is going to depend on what your unique service proposition (USP) is. Do you have a product that no one can get elsewhere? Then you might find an online market for it.
If your USP is service based this may not be as simple. Do people, for example, come into your store because they like interacting with you and other staff? Would they want to miss out on this interaction?
Also, if the store is convenient for them, why would they want to shop online instead?
Do They Have The Tech Knowledge?
Not everyone is comfortable with shopping over the internet. They may not know how to find the store or browse for items. If your target market is tech-savvy, this is not likely to be an issue, but what if they are not?
How Will You Cope?
An online store is nice in that you don’t have to be present to run it. But, that doesn’t mean it will run itself. You are going to have to factor in extra time for processing orders, time to get them shipped, etc.
What Marketing Strategy Will You Use?
Marketing is more important with an online store because of all of the competition on the web. You can’t just hang up your shingle and hope a customer stumbles onto your site, you need to lead her to the site and then convince her to part with her money.
This is more difficult online because she is usually not going to be entirely sure what it is that she is getting until she receives it. People are warier of ordering online because of this.
Obviously, online marketing is very different from real world marketing and you need a completely different strategy. Your site will need to be monitored carefully to ensure that it is doing well. You will want to catch downturns early enough to do something about them.
Does My Product Translate Well Online?
Let us say that you sell scarves, for instance. These could be reasonably easy to pack and send out. But, if your USP is that the scarves are soft, how will you compensate this online? People will not be able to touch the items for themselves.
It’s not an insurmountable obstacle, but it is something that you will need to think carefully about.
Will It Be Competitive?
Everyone talks about online stores saving you a bundle when compared to brick and mortar stores. This might be a mistake that could cost you. For example, how much will it cost to ship the items? What will the marketing cost? What about site maintenance? You get the picture.
An online store is not the easy solution it is painted as. If you approach it intelligently, though, it could be the right option for you.