In 2018, 87 percent of retail consumers used online channels to begin their product searches. While 46 percent preferred to shop at a physical store, 53 percent chose to purchase items either via computer or mobile phone. The trend will likely continue to go the way of online shopping in the coming years, which is why opening an ecommerce store is a good idea for entrepreneurs on many levels — even for those who own a brick-and-mortar store. If you’re exploring this option, read on for some key benefits and advice on how to start:
Running an online store means that your customer pool is much bigger than it is with a physical store; people from different states — and even different countries — can order your products. Waiting for delivery and paying international shipping and tax rates are not as significant of boundaries as traveling, parking, and other factors that come with a physical store. Also, you don’t have to keep a large physical inventory, because you receive a notification each time a product is purchased and you can use dropshipping.
Moreover, your ecommerce store is not forced to close overnight or on holidays, as are most brick-and-mortar stores. You’re always open for business, which means you can make sales after your employees leave for the day and while you sleep.
If you’ve mulled over the benefits of opening an online shop (there are plenty of others not mentioned here) and think it’s something for you, you can get started by taking these 4 easy steps.
1. Analyze Your Competitors
Learning about potential competitors will help you gain ideas and lay down strategies for how to begin and grow your business. Performing a competitor analysis can show you what your customers are looking for so that you can fulfill their needs better than the competition can. It can also reveal significant strengths and weaknesses in the industry, which will help you strategize your company’s role in the industry.
2. Create Your Website
These days, having a solid website is essential for all entrepreneurs — even if you run a physical store or sell on sites like Etsy, eBay, and Amazon. Your website will be many customers’ first impression of your company, so it needs to look attractive, function efficiently, and provide all the services your company can offer. Search online for web developers, and start building your website as soon as possible.
3. Choose the Right Platform
When you’re developing your website, you will need to choose between an off-the-shelf platform and a custom online store platform. Many businesses go with off-the-shelf because it’s more cost-effective and easier to maintain without professional assistance. However, if your company and customers need services that a stock platform can’t offer, investing in a custom platform can be worth the investment.
4. Look Into Software Options
Finally, small and medium-sized businesses often benefit from custom operational software. This software can take care of many tasks that your employees otherwise would have to spend valuable time on, which leaves your employees more time to spend on important work that can only be done by humans. In short, operational software can reduce opportunity costs and make the entirety of your company’s operations more efficient. Evaluate your company’s specific needs, and consider if custom software solutions is something you need.
There are many benefits to opening an online store. If you determine that you want to jump into the ecommerce world, start strong by conducting a competitor analysis, building a good website, picking the right kind of platform, and considering custom operational software. The specific needs of your company may look different than those of others, so continue to learn as much as you can so that you can grow your business for many years to come.
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Dean Burgess started Excitepreneur.net to explore the areas of entrepreneurship that are often overlooked, and share with current and aspiring entrepreneurs the stories and lessons he has learned. He fully believes entrepreneurs will lead us to a more exciting future. All it takes is an idea or goal and a desire to see it to fruition.