The digital age has brought a rise in electronic commerce, e-commerce, which is boosting companies and consumers in many different ways. It is nearly impossible to run a successful business without a company website and online shop, which is giving entrepreneurs a less expensive way to launch startups and gather capital for brick-and-mortar locations through e-commerce transactions. When considering adding an online component to your business model, it is important to remember why this type of portal is both beneficial and crucial to your business.
E-commerce is designed to track specific information about customers to properly process transactions, update inventory lists and generate correct shipping information. With the right Big Data analytics tools and techniques, you can use this information to record and track important metrics such as your website ROI, search engine results list rankings and even which segments of the population are most interested in your items. Integrated E-commerce business applications can even help you generate pay-stubs and other proof of income you need automatically while updating your records and storing copies without using toner or filing cabinets. The data you gather through online portals, review and testimonials sites or customer feedback can be analyzed by artificial intelligence algorithms to generate reports automatically and update metrics on a dashboard for your regular review.
The internet is global, so your audience can be too. This gives you a broader reach than a brick-and-mortar store by allowing you to go to your potential customers instead of the other way around. For companies selling niche products, such as customizable merchandise or collectibles, the reach of the internet can take links to your e-commerce shop into collector forums, party planner blogs and much more. Studies are showing that consumers are reaching for their mobile phone and search engines to find products and services before going to their favorite brick-and-mortar stores or the phone book, so having an e-commerce site for your business can increase your traffic off-line as well.
Physical locations for your business are not likely to be open all day, every day like the internet is, so you have to rely on customers coming in to purchase goods and services on your timeframe instead of theirs. With e-commerce, consumers can type their shopping list into a search engine and instantly be met with online shops carrying those items, as well as business information such as the hours of operation for physical locations and customer testimonials. This makes it more accessible for customers no matter what time of day they want to shop and regardless of whether they have a ride to your store.
Automation of Discounts
One benefit of e-commerce that is often overlooked is the automation of discounts which can be coded into your website or shopping app with an expiration date and reduce the number of expired coupons you see in stores. You can even link customer accounts to a mobile app, so your clients do not have to worry about leaving coupons or promotional discounts at home when they arrive at your physical location. Since you can push discounts to mobile apps or send them in email newsletters, you can print fewer physical coupons and mailers while reaching a wider audience.
Integrated Business Systems
Integrating your business systems has been productivity advice for decades, but the rise in e-commerce business solutions has made this process more streamlined and efficient. When your physical location’s point-of-sale software, your online shop and your inventory management solutions are integrated, a sale in one will automatically update numbers in the other two systems. You can even add your accounting processes to this list and not worry about your books and inventory lists disagreeing while automatically generating sales reports, storing important tax information and much more.
Online stores have a lower overhead than physical ones, giving e-commerce startups a boost and increasing your ROI on a company website. Not only are the website fees generally lower than a monthly mortgage or rent payment, but you will not have to hire multiple individuals to stock shelves, run the register and monitor the books. For the solo entrepreneur, online stores mean that he or she can run a retail store with a computer, warehouse and shipping station, sometimes from home. For larger companies with an established physical location, adding an online store can increase the number of sales you can process in a day without increasing your overhead to match.
Websites are one of the easiest business tools to scale up as your company grows. You can add another listing to your online store, for example, much easier than you can add a new shelf to your sales floor. Many hosting platforms will even have growth tiers in terms of pricing and functions that you can easily expand into as your company needs more pages for inventory and features to offer customers. Some cloud-based platforms can even scale your office software needs to meet the needs of a remote workforce without sacrificing collaboration or communication.
Digital marketing can be applied to both traditional commerce and online stores but having a link to click on in your advertisements or social media posts makes customers more likely to visit your store. Techniques such as email marketing, pay-per-click advertising campaigns and even social media paid promotions can put your company’s name and products in the places your customers visit regularly. Social media marketing techniques such as product unboxing videos and prize drawings can even be shared organically by your company’s followers to market new product lines and inform the public of your company culture.
E-commerce is quickly becoming a crucial business tool that can help boost your bottom line and marketing reach while lowering overhead. Many online business tools can be scaled to meet the needs of your growing company, help build your remote workforce and even automate routine tasks to improve productivity. As more consumers reach for mobile devices to shop anytime from anywhere, your online store can be there to make the sale.