Posted by Hillary Rivera ● August 27, 2020
Is Ecommerce Right for Your Business? Ask Yourself These 3 Questions
Over the past decade, online shopping via ecommerce platforms like Amazon, Shopify and Etsy has grown from just 5% of the retail market to 14.1% and climbing. While this trend was already pushing traditionally brick-and-mortar businesses to digitize in order to maintain relevance, the shift to digital sales has accelerated exponentially since the onset of COVID-19 and the resulting shutdowns and social distancing measures.
The rapidly changing environment and shift in consumer preferences from in-person to at-home experiences has forced businesses to get creative—both in how they conduct transactions and how they preserve consumer confidence in the safety and value of their products.
If you’re reading this, you might be considering a shift to ecommerce for your business. While there there is no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to online selling, here are some questions to consider and best practices to know before taking the plunge.
1. Is ecommerce right for your business?
Transitioning to ecommerce can be a major investment for your business, and the decision should be made with careful consideration of your brand purpose, sales goals, budget and needs.
Brand & Brand Purpose
Understanding the brand and the purpose of your brand is important because it will help you determine the most effective channels to reach your tribe or niche audience. Establishing your brand will also help you stand out in the over-saturated digital space and create a connection with the consumer. Defining your brand purpose will help create a blueprint for your business and ecommerce strategy.
Digitizing Products & Services
Consider your current products and services. Can these services be offered in the digital space? With growing digital channels and the rise of immersive technology, a little bit of creativity can take you a long way. A great example of creative digital adaptation is the museum industry. Museums around the world have adapted to the circumstances brought on by COVID-19 by creating e-learning opportunities for their patrons and adopting immersive gallery tours.
Management & Operations Budget
As mentioned earlier, moving your business to ecommerce is an investment with many moving parts. Evaluate your budgetary capabilities before moving forward to ensure your customer has a seamless purchasing experience from purchase to delivery.
2. Does your business need ecommerce?
Sometimes, businesses can digitize their products or services without actually engaging in ecommerce. For example, restaurants can accept orders online, but customers can pay in person or over the phone, thereby eliminating the need for online transactions.
Simply creating a digital presence for your business can sometimes be a more cost-effective way to reach a new audience and stay connected with your current clientele. There are many free options, from social media to websites to industry networks, that can assist you in setting up a strong digital presence if you determine this to be a better option for your business.
What is your ecommerce strategy?
If ecommerce is right for your business, then it is time to determine what your ecommerce strategy will look like and how to execute a successful ecommerce business launch.
Ecommerce Trends within Your Industry
There are many industry-specific platforms that can help promote your products to a niche audience. For example, platforms like Etsy and RedBubble that allow artists to sell their products and get discovered may not work as effectively for cleaning products. That is why it is important to understand your brand, your audience, and what your competitors are using for online sales.
Number of Ecommerce Channels
It is best practice to give the consumer more than one location to find and purchase your product online. When working with multiple ecommerce venues, make sure each platform adds value beyond the presence of your product. For example, one purchase outlet can focus on promoting your brand alongside the product while another platform can work to help improve your product’s exposure and authority.
Consider the number of products you intend to move, shipping cost, and shipping time. This will help you assess your capabilities and whether or not you will need to work with a fulfillment center.
What are your ecommerce goals ?
After thinking through the considerations above, the next step is to establish ecommerce goals for your business. Here are a few recommendations, but remember—goals should always be specific to your business and your strategic plan.
Increase Sales Revenue
The number one reason businesses decide to begin selling their products online is to increase revenue. By reaching a wider audience beyond their local community, businesses are able to increase their customer base and subsequently increase their sales volume and revenue.
Improve Customer Loyalty
By providing customers with convenient access to your products, they will be more likely to continue doing business with you. Connecting with your customers digitally can also give you the opportunity to collect customer data for strategy development and outbound marketing.
Diversify Products & Services
As mentioned throughout this blog, going digital can provide your business with creative opportunities to diversify or sell new products and services. As long as you stay true to your brand, serve your audience and work toward specific goals, diversification of products and services can be a prosperous long-term growth strategy.
From small start-ups to corporate giants, businesses around the world are reaping the benefits of ecommerce. Determining whether ecommerce is right for your business is a critical step in both short-term and long-term strategic planning. If you decide that ecommerce is your next right move, act now! A world of opportunity awaits.