E-commerce is not a new thing; there have been e-commerce websites since the mid-90s. Amazon was one of the few companies to come through the dot-com bubble – the speculative bubble from the mid-90s to early 00s based on internet growth -intact, and the reason for this was that it was based on e-commerce. To be fair, Amazon also cut down on costs by producing their own packing goods, such as packing boxes, but what remains clear is that Amazon are a highly successful e-commerce platform.
E-commerce platforms are online versions of physical storefronts. Consumers can go to an e-commerce site to view, compare, and purchase a product or service of their choosing. Infinitely expandable, they allow online retailers to showcase any products they stock in an online inventory.
Due to the rise of the internet and mobile platforms, the market value for e-commerce has seen an incredible upsurge over the last decade, with future projections showing it to increase even more over the coming years. This is due to the fact that it is convenient and accessible, areas that small businesses have traditionally struggled in. By allowing more small businesses to succeed, there is more demand for e-commerce platforms and business, feeding the cycle.
What to Take into Account When Considering an E-commerce Platform
Does it make sense? – Is it possible to sell your product or service online? Are you able to fully appreciate what a customer is after when they land on your website? If the answer to either of these is no, then take a second before implementing an e-commerce platform. A potential customer has to be able to be 100% happy with their purchase as soon as the transaction is completed online. It’s possible to use e-commerce for services that require follow ups, but this can complicate the payment process and has potential to end up with unhappy customers.
Can I sell it in 3 clicks? – Google has a principle that all information should be able to be accessed – or products sold – in 3 clicks or less. While this has recently fallen out of favour as a definitive rule, the principle holds true: make it easy for people to spend money on your site. If using an e-commerce platform is going to complicate the selling process and draw it out, customers are going to turn away, resulting in a drop in income for your business.
Do I have the infrastructure available? – It’s entirely possible that an e-commerce site can just blow up, inundating an unprepared SME with a mountain of purchase orders. While this may seem like a good thing, this can in reality kill a small company as they try to keep up with orders, neglecting other areas of the business. Things to consider include whether you have enough postage materials, such as packing boxes, staffing levels, delivery area, and business delivery rates with your local delivery supplier.
Do I have the inventory for e-commerce? - If you only sell three different products, an e-commerce site may be overkill. This is not true for businesses that are building an e-commerce to expand from, where a platform will be beneficial further down the line, but if the business is a specialist supplier with no plans for growth, an e-commerce platform will be an unnecessary cost that will drain the business.
Tom Wishart is a Glasgow-based freelance writer. Tom is educated in Chemical Engineering and experienced in what hell will most likely be like from 8 years in the hospitality and customer service industries. His areas of writing cover all forms of digital marketing – in particular, social media marketing – ecommerce, and emergent technologies in the energy and electronic fields.