In 2021, eCommerce sales will account for 18.1% of retail sales worldwide; by 2023, it’s expected to make up 22.0%. There are different reasons why eCommerce continues to grow, but it all boils down to convenience. People can shop any time, anywhere (but usually right from their couch). This also means they can access businesses they weren’t able to before due to their location or didn’t know about you until they found you online. They are also able to compare prices between companies easier than running between stores or calling.
Although some services and products are easier to sell online than others, every business should consider adding eCommerce to their business plan. Even if customers prefer coming into your store to purchase your product, providing them with detailed product information and pricing online can also be a great way to make customers aware of what you have to offer.
The graph below from the Business Development Bank of Canada shows the ways consumers and businesses use the Internet to search for information online. As you can see, both consumers and businesses will often look at your website before making a purchase decision. But not only that, a large percentage of those individuals expect to buy your products or services directly from your website. So without having eCommerce enabled on your website, you could be missing out on a huge potential market of online shoppers.
How eCommerce Might Work for Your Business
With eCommerce, you are able to attract more diverse customers you would not have been able to reach in a traditional retail setting. You can now sell your products and services to someone across the globe, instead of just down the street.
More of your customers have also come to expect businesses to have an online presence and even an online store. With eCommerce, you can improve customer experience and even your own online presence.
But before you get started with adding eCommerce to your business, it is always important to have a clear strategy in place for selling your products or services online. There are several ways you can get started. But, from our experience as a developer who provides web design services, it is important that you learn to walk before you start to run.
What is your online strategy?
There are two main strategies that you can implement when it comes to eCommerce.
Online sales in addition to a store location (Bricks and Clicks)
For many local businesses with an office or retail location, adding eCommerce to their business will allow them to experiment and make additional sales without losing sight of their traditional walk-in traffic to their location. This is a relatively low-risk way of adding more sales to your business and experimenting with which products and services are best suited to be sold online.
Online sales only
If you are starting a new business, it may look appealing to forget about opening up a storefront and going strictly online. It can be a cost-effective way to run your business, with less staff required and not having to lease a storefront. Although this sounds appealing, it is important to also weigh in the fact that relying on your website for all your sales is also a huge challenge, just like just having a brick-and-mortar store. Depending on what you are selling, there will probably be thousands of others selling your product that you will have to compete with.
Depending on which strategy is best for you, there are many eCommerce platforms to choose from.
These are some of the better-known ones:
Shopify is a web-based eCommerce solution that allows anyone to build a professional eCommerce website and sell their products online. Shopify is very easy to use and has everything you need to get started quickly. Like most online services, you will pay a monthly fee. It also offers connections to the most common payment gateways such as Paypal, Stripe and Square.
Ecwid is another hosted eCommerce shopping cart solution. It offers you a way to sell products online and is mobile responsive. The Ecwid shopping cart software lets you run your store, manage orders, process payments, and more -- all from one cloud-based dashboard. We like Ecwid because it can be integrated into an existing marketing website making the user experience seamless.
Lightspeed is another Canadian provider of eCommerce services. The company started out as a Point of Sale (POS) provider, and their eCommerce platform is extensively used by retailers that already use their POS system. Like any other eCommerce provider, the system takes care of online payments, shipping rate calculations, returns and coupons.
Squarespace is a do-it-yourself website builder that has some really cool features, including eCommerce. This is a good, low cost option if you want to start off with your online store.
As we have seen, more and more people are turning to businesses that offer online shopping. You can sell almost anything online, but it is important to ensure that eCommerce is the right fit for your business and your customers.
In the end, your eCommerce website is still a website. So make sure to get some more website tips from the Ultimate Guide to Building a Website.
Posted: November 17, 2021