An e-commerce website is just like a physical shop. The better the shopping experience you want to replicate, the better your website needs to be. It’s more than just “taking payments online.”
Running an e-commerce website is different to running a website. It’s a different sort of work...but it is work. The bulk of it is maintaining e-commerce, rather than maintaining your website. Think about the last time you saw a blog on Amazon? You didn’t? That’s because they don’t have one. But they update their stock, deals and featured items daily.
There is a slight caveat here though. You can cut out a lot of the work as you can automate a lot of the manual processes – but that costs more to set up, as you’d expect. (There’s no such thing as a free lunch, of course!)
Though it isn’t a shortcut to success, there are huge benefits to taking your shop digital.
People don’t need to travel
They can buy from you whilst sat in their pants at home if they want (and they do).
Not based in a convenient location? Forget about poor footfall and welcome heavy traffic to your website instead.
Because of this, the net for your target market can be as large as you’re willing to ship things. Going online opens you up to the world for business.
Whilst we’re on location, why even have one at all?
The rent and bills that go into a physical shop are expensive; more so if you want a prime location. Why not just have your goods in a cheap storage facility and dispatch them directly to your customer? You need to sell far less online to break even.
Streamlined Marketing & Sales
Ever clicked an ad online? How quickly could you buy the item you were interested in before changing your mind or seeing a competitive offer?
Compare that to seeing a traditional ad on billboards, TV, radio or magazines. How long before you see that advert to when you eventually go to the shop? Impulsive buying thrives online, and having a streamlined e-commerce website is your ticket in.
Want to run a sale or special offer? You can adjust prices yourself and advertise online with Google Posts, Social Media and emails in no time at all.
How many different stickers and signs would you need to print and put out (before eventually removing/replacing all over again) in a physical shop? You begin to see how your workload streamlines online.
Things to beware of
Going online does not guarantee success, nor indeed more sales. It requires a good digital strategy behind you, in the same way a physical shop requires a lot of planning to get your location, marketing and stock in order.
If you’re expanding a real shop onto the internet, a website requires admin. The e-commerce administrator monitors the buying and selling. Keeping stock, managing stock. Purchase orders (sending the list of things you’ve sold to your supplier), managing suppliers, and shipping in and out.
If you don’t have the time to input yourself, you’ll need to pay someone else to do it, which is an additional cost.
Competition is greater online
If your offering isn’t unique, you’re going to need to put a lot of effort in to beating your competition. There's an offering of every non-unique product out there. Whatever you want to compete on – price, marketing or SEO, you will need to come up with a strategy for competing.
Global e-commerce sites like Amazon and eBay dominate the search engines, so you’ll have to find a way to either beat them or join them.
You don’t need to be mega-technical; so long as you understand a bit about internet sales and how people find websites.
Even automated processes can need manual input
Arkom can give you tools to drive it and use it. But we can’t control the world around the system.
There will be queries, returns, refunds.
Manual inputs will inevitably come about. If your website takes an order in the precise moment your supplier runs out of stock and you cannot fulfil the order? You’ll have to manually remove this from the purchase order and refund the customer, communicating with them.
Ultimately, the market will decide
If you’re an existing physical shop owner and your sales are dwindling, it might be that no matter how much you market, people are just choosing convenience of online shopping over coming to your shop. Or no matter how low your prices, someone who doesn’t have to cover the costs that you do can undercut you.
Even if your sales are doing fine, there’s no suggestion that you couldn’t be growing sales online with e-commerce.
Why shouldn’t you take your shop online?
If you don’t have the time or skills yourself to do your marketing or manage the website and physical stock, or the resources to outsource this to other
If you already have a physical shop, then you probably do have transferable skills. With a little training, you could find yourself having to do a lot less work in the long term, as well as futureproofing your business against an uncertain economy.