Demystifying the E-commerce Cloud for Small Businesses
There are a lot of people who may 'prefer' to shop in-store but then 'choose' to shop online because it's the most convenient option. In any case, there’s a real value for businesses that embrace e-commerce to reach the large percentage of customers or a targeted niche market who are shopping online.
Improving a business’ e-commerce can prevent a small retailer from falling behind their competitors and provide new sources of revenue as more and more consumers choose to shop online. Here are some of the key advantages of running your own e-commerce store over having a brick-and-mortar storefront.
> Fewer costs and labour cost advantages
Brick and mortar store incur rental or management costs, in e-commerce, you will only need software to set up an online store. You also get to cut tax, labour and warehouse rental costs when you’re deciding to expand to larger geographical areas.
> Search engine, advertisement and social media traffic
Instead of constantly pushing out marketing and advertising messages to attract people to your store, a search engine will pair a customer’s search queries with products and information that exists online. The strategy is for you to make your online store searchable and rank well in a search engine like Google. Then you will receive continued and perhaps increase in monthly traffic. This then can convert into a steady flow of incoming sales.
E-commerce, as linked to social media such as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Instagram, and more, can create online word-of-mouth since online users or buyers has the ability to speak their mind or recommend products to their friends on a personalised level.
Also, it’s much easier to gauge and track the ROI of your marketing efforts through an online advertising platform such as Google, Facebook, Twitter, Online Directories or BuySellAds.
> Automated marketing engine
Ecommerce allows you to automate, scale and build a location-independent business. You can also automate your marketing through social media networks, use email management tools, and utilise content management system and a blogging engine. It also offers a central marketing database for all your marketing data. This includes detailed prospect and customer interactions and behaviours so you can segment and target the right message to each customer.
> Product inventory tracking
Since you now sell online you can easily send that order to your fulfilment company. You can also track where that product is in the fulfilment process up to the part of product shipment.
There are many online inventory systems that offer an array of features, such as inventory movement history, CSV file import and export, access for multiple users, customer history, and product inventory and shipment tracking. You can ask an e-commerce site designer to install product inventory software for you.
> Visitor tracking and statistics
In e-commerce, you may use Google analytics, it will be extremely easy for you to see and track where people are finding your e-commerce design website, or which of your pages they are visiting, and from what region of the country they are from. You may also try online monitoring tools like Crazy Egg and MouseFlow to analyse cursor movement when they browse your web store. It is expensive and time consuming for you to monitor these kinds of statistics such as foot traffic, customer satisfaction survey and merchandise browsing patterns.
> Customer email communication & automated customer feedback and support
When you create an e-commerce site it requires potential buyers to register and submit their email address for an order confirmation and you can have an opt-in box which will enable you to send them future offers or marketing messages. Ironically, many online customers are more willing to search an online support forum, tap chat support, email in a question, and fill out a customer satisfaction survey.
> Impulse purchases
Online "window shopping" is pleasurable and entertaining, especially for female buyers. E-stores open an awesome opportunity to capitalise on buyers free time by attracting them to your web store with cool photos and discounts or offers.
So what does the future of e-commerce look like for small businesses? Smarter, faster and extremely promising.