Do you run a retail business that’s doing well and you’re wondering how to expand sales globally? Are you hesitant to break into e-commerce because of security concerns, or simply a lack of understanding about that element of business?
If you’re in any kind of retail or are thinking of it, or if that’s where your clients are, there’s never a better time to gain a better understanding of what it takes to sustain an e-commerce business
According to Entrepreneur, plenty of people will continue to shop in-store, and this market is still far larger than online shoppers. Online shopping is expected to grow at a great pace, with 56% of Gen Xers and 67% of millennials in the US being the most likely demographics to make purchases.
It’s actually important that you learn about e-commerce as soon as you can because it (especially mobile e-commerce) has grown by 300% over the last few years with revenue of $700 billion in the US just last year. It is expected to make up 17.5% of global retail sales by 2021 (up from 7.4% in 2015), and sales are predicted to hit $4,878 billion in the next few years.
Because e-commerce tends to carry far lower costs than brick-and-mortar setups, adding an online component to your existing business doesn’t need to be a high-risk investment and in fact, in most cases would be a far better choice than opening another storefront if that’s something that you feel you could easily lose money on.
Why is it lower cost to run an online store? Here are a few important points to note:
Sales on Advertising
Digital advertising is inexpensive compared to traditional channels and can be more easily adjusted to fit varying budgets. You can use a blend of traditional and digital to market your entire operation, or even switch to primarily digital and save a lot of money.
Email is just one example of a simple digital tool that remains a cost-effective and simple way to send information to segmented markets (check out a simple tool like MailChimp if you’re looking to get started on email marketing).
Save on Staff
You won’t have to pay in-person staff and in fact could consider integrating something like a chat-bot into your social media and customer service activities instead of live help. You may also want to hire an overseas virtual assistant or marketing specialist if you are looking for people to handle customer service or other activities on a 24-hour basis.
Save on Rent
There will be some initial costs to do with web setup and maintenance – for instance, integrating a Shopify account into your current website, or even doing an overhaul. Shopify costs only a few thousand per year, and for this fee, you also get to use other built-in features that will help you run our business more smoothly. This is especially the case if you are already paying for space to store inventory and are willing to ship from your
Different Traffic Streams
You probably already have a website set up to support your business, but is it getting much traffic? Developing an online presence can help you understand your market better so that you can offer them new and innovative products as well as promote your on-the-ground store.
How do you do this? Search Engine Optimization on your site is key and digital marketing strategies can be huge when it comes to customer research and targeting your marketing both online and offline.
Easily Scale and Grow
One key benefit of running a business online is that you can easily optimize and scale your budget in accordance with all other aspects of the business, and it’s not too difficult to scale your business should you see your customer base expand and grow.
For instance, if you are running Facebook ads, you can easily adjust these in accordance with purchasing behavior. And even if you find some dips or shrinkage – say, if your offerings tend to be seasonal, you can adjust your marketing and inventory in accordance with these changes as well.
A more Pleasant Customer Experience
For many tech-savvy individuals who are used to making online purchases, they may not know that for a lot of people who are used to it, it’s just a smoother and more comfortable experience for many. Not only does a customer not need to leave the comfort of their own home, but they also get to avoid traffic, parking, and pushy salespeople trying to upsell or interrupt your conversation with a friend.
When a shop is set up right, the ease of searching, browsing, and ordering can easily outweigh the extra shipping cost. This is especially the case if special features such as live chats that are set up to answer customer questions 24-7, a feat which is becoming more and more affordable if you consider overseas outsourcing or chatbots.
If you can keep your shop open 24-7 and you are able to expand your offerings to a global audience, this means that you have the potential to create a passive income stream – that is, your revenue doesn’t necessarily rely on great salespeople or opening hours. When you and your customers are no longer restricted by logistics such as location and time of day, you have plenty of opportunities to boost revenue in new ways.