What are the Benefits of Ecommerce for Small Business?
Electronic Commerce, also known as eCommerce, is the buying and selling of products or services online. In just the last decade we’ve witnessed an explosion of eCommerce websites with many small businesses creating and developing their online stores. This massive integration of web commerce as a key part of operations has made many experts proclaim it as the leading force in the modern world of technology and it is revolutionizing the way businesses are functioning.
These days there are so many options for selling online. There are longtime sites like Ebay and more recent marketplaces like Amazon or Facebook. There are also a number of eCommerce platforms that enhance those experiences for the sellers and even allow for the building of full-blown online stores that are as simple to build and launch as a blog.
Especially in light of Covid-19 and new social distancing measures, ecommerce empowers consumers to buy products or services from the comfort of their home at any time of day or night. In a flash, online has become the most preferred medium of shopping because it is quick, easy and user-friendly.
Here are some things to consider when reviewing eCommerce platforms and choosing the best one for your small business.
Cost: eCommerce platform costs can range from free to thousands of dollars depending on the size of your business. Many sites will let you try them out for free without using a credit card. Be sure to carefully shop the features to make sure you get what you actually need when you eventually pay it. Be sure to consider all costs like hosting, extensions and other add-ons.
SEO/URL Structure: This is very important because people can’t shop your online store if they can’t find it. Having the ability to customize your URL with your business name and your products will help boost your search engine optimization which in turn makes your store easier to find. Some platforms offer enhanced SEO tools in their plans.
Scalability: Not every online store starts out small and remains small. It is important that your eCommerce platform has the ability to grow with your online clients. Also, some online stores need more than just the very basic eCommerce solution. Find a platform that won’t keep you boxed in or force you into a plan that does not fit your current and future business plans.
Mobile friendliness: More than 125 million U.S. consumers own smartphones and more than 60 percent of smartphone users have bought something using their phones. It is vital that any online store has a responsive design because the majority of sales will come through that mobile device, and your site must fit a variety of screen sizes.
Speed: If you sell physical products, your online store must feature plenty of pictures and possibly videos. You don’t want to lose customers because they have to wait for those images or videos to load. Slow-loading product pages will cost you sales.
UX: There are two users to consider for your store: one is the shop owner and the other is your customer. Most platforms make it easy for beginners to build stores with little to no programming experience, which is great for store owners just getting started online. Once the store is live it should be easy to navigate for customers and include features to help filter and search for products.
Software integration: Some platforms are incredibly simple, allowing you to place “buy buttons” on your social media channels like Pinterest, or they may have plugins that work with your existing WordPress site. The ability to add on tools and apps, some free, some paid, is appealing for store-builders who may not be coders.
eCommerce benefits to Small Business
Low Operational Costs
Among all the eCommerce benefits to small business, the cost savings is one is the most crucial. Running an online store involves far less money compared to running a brick and mortar shop. Online stores do not come with location and other overhead costs and they require very little capital outlay.
eCommerce also automates your entire operational process. So overall, opening up an online store is significantly more e economical and reasonable for small and medium-sized business owners who grapple to operate and grow with limited finances.
This comes in a close second in the list of all eCommerce advantages. Physical stores, no matter how popular, are limited by geography, but with an online store the whole world becomes your location. Small business owners do not have to rely on foot traffic and can sell their products and services across the world. And, unlike brick and mortar stores, e-stores are open 24/7, year-round and this around-the-clock availability dramatically increases sales.
Greater Customer Acquisition
Traditionally retail relied on branding and long-term customer relationships. However, things have drastically changed with online retail and search engines drive massive amounts of traffic to e-stores that then result in a far greater number of customer acquisitions.
Not only does this add more sales, but this process helps in boosting brand awareness. Consistent SEO efforts ensure recurring traffic that can be easily converted into a steady flow of new sales.
Impressed with the quality of products and services along with the overall shopping experience, many consumers post their positive feedback on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Instagram, and more. Tremendous word of mouth recommendation over social media lets customers to choose small business online stores over their big-brand competitors.
Today your customers prefer eCommerce solutions and expect businesses to be available online. Small businesses who have created a dedicated online storefront stay strongly in the competition for purchasing dollars and prevent their audience from heading towards the competitors to make online purchase.
Larger Marketing ROI
Just like sales, the marketing activities of physical stores are limited by geography. However, with an online store, the whole world can now be your target audience. Small business owners do not have to solely depend on local customers to see their marketing messages and then come into the store. They can advertise their product and service offerings worldwide and bring in both domestic and international customers alike.
A solid ecommerce store is a necessity for today’s small businesses. It levels the playing field for SMBs and allows them to punch far above their weight in attracting customers beyond their local geographic boundaries