Have you been thinking about online selling?
If you are, the good news is that online sales reached $1.5 trillion dollars worldwide in 2016, and over the last 2 years has continued to grow.
That number demonstrates that customers are increasingly refusing to be limited by physical boundaries and the need to shop in store or fill out manual orders. So, there are some huge opportunities to expand into e-commerce in order to tap into that market.
But is it worth it for your business?
With so much potential revenue waiting for you, it’s a smart move to start weighing up your options and considering the viability of an e-commerce website.
Taking the first step into the world of e-commerce
For businesses who engage in traditional offline selling practices, deciding to sell your products online is a new terrain and may seem intimidating at first. There are many questions to ask yourself, including:
- How will your customers benefit from an e-commerce site?
- How much is an e-commerce site going to cost you?
- How will you set up the site?
- Who will set up the site?
- When is the right time to launch?
But, before you even begin to go down that rabbit hole, you need to weigh up what you’d like to achieve with online selling. Then you can determine whether or not e-commerce actually has the capability to achieve these goals for you.
If you already know that e-commerce is a direction you want to take, our Selling Online e-book, is a complete guide to everything you need to know to get you started on your e-commerce journey. But, if you’re not sold on the idea yet, read on.
Your objectives vs. e-commerce capabilities
For any business, it’s safe to assume that you’re always looking for new ways to make your processes more efficient, grow your business and make more money.
That’s why e-commerce and the opportunities it creates (and the needs that it can fulfil) is so exciting.
Let’s take a look at the 3 most common needs businesses are wanting to fulfil with online selling.
1. Increasing your customer reach
The beauty in having a smaller customer base is how well you get to know your customers, so there are definitely some advantages to staying traditional. By building stronger relationships, your customers will often become advocates for your brand and spread positive word-of-mouth to their network.
While traditional bricks and mortar businesses are limited to the customer base that surrounds the vicinity of the store or warehouse, one-on-one customer engagement is still an extremely important part of selling. Being able to speak directly to your customers about their needs, issues and the value your products offer will provide them valuable guidance.
For these reasons, sticking with traditional practices is a totally viable business option. But, when it comes to e-commerce, you can gain access to an entirely new customer base — and boost your sales volume as a result.
With e-commerce, it’s possible to reach thousands of new customers (potentially from anywhere in the world), at any time of the day or night. Traditional business hours no longer matter, as customers can complete their orders 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
And even better than that?
You, as the merchant, wouldn’t need to dedicate any extra resources to support it.
2. Increased workflow and supply-chain efficiency
While front-facing operations are a huge part of selling online, there is a whole other side of online selling that involves processing customer orders and getting them out quickly and efficiently.
When set-up correctly, e-commerce sites are a cost-effective way to streamline your workflow processes by eliminating manual, labour-intensive processes and replacing them with automation.
e-commerce platforms can help you to:
- Streamline order processes
Manage all incoming orders from a centralised location, leading to larger volumes of orders that can be filled daily.
- Increase order accuracy
Maintain order accuracy, even during busy times of the year like major sales and Christmas.
- Complete inventory visibility
Having accurate, real-time views of your product inventory will enable you to maintain accurate orders.
However, if you currently operate warehousing facilities but you aren’t currently selling online, these systems are still able to be utilised with mobile warehousing solutions.
You don’t necessarily need an e-commerce site to automate warehouse processes, but seamlessly integrating the two will make the buying process a lot easier for you, and your customers
3. Achievement of financial goals
If you’re after quick, short-term financial gain, e-commerce may not be the right move for your business. Online selling is much more of a long-term investment that will cost you at first but will certainly earn back its value very quickly.
You need to be aware that there will be initial set-up costs to get your site up and running. But, before you even get to that stage, there will be lots of time (and money) spent on strategy and planning to get the right solution for your business and — more importantly — your customers.
In saying that, in the long-run, e-commerce is an extremely successful and sustainable business model. The operational costs are far lower than traditional bricks-and-mortar, and marketing automation functions will lower the total number of employees required to run your business. This will result in outstanding long-term ROI, and the initial set-up costs will quickly be forgotten.
There’s no question that more and more businesses are turning to digital, driven by customer demand. But that doesn’t mean it is the right move for your business to move online — yet.
In order to be successful, you will need thorough planning, and be supported by well-chosen technology that suits the needs and wants of your business and your customers. Check out the Selling Online eBook for more information about assessing if your business is ready for online selling.
Are you thinking about online selling?
HARMONiQ has helped a wide range of retail, warehousing and distribution business make a successful and seamless switch to a fully integrated e-commerce solution which maximised their sales and ROI.
We’re using that expertise to keep you informed about your selling online options. That’s why next month, I’ll talk more about ensuring your transition to selling online is a success. Meanwhile, why not learn more: download HARMONiQ’s “Complete Guide to Online Selling” e-book.
Here you’ll find a complete overview of all the planning and resources you need to invest in, so you can effectively facilitate the launch of a successful e-commerce platform.
And if you’d like to see first-hand how our system can help you seamlessly transition to online selling, click here to request a demo and I’ll be in touch shortly.
Drew Arthur is the Managing Director of Micronet Systems and is focused on helping business leaders overcome inefficient sales, inventory, and customer relationship management practices by leveraging cutting edge technology. If you want to gain better control of the sales processes in your business, click here to see how HARMONiQ Business Tuning Software can make a difference to your business, or click here to get in touch.