Thanks to the Internet and various technological advancements, we see growth in online purchases worldwide. In 2020 alone, e-commerce retail sales surpassed $4.2 trillion globally.
If that does not convince you to take the online business route, we do not know what will.
Why Transition to Online?
There are a lot of short and long-term benefits that come with transitioning your business online. And while both media deal with rendering a service or selling a product, they provide a different experience.
Retail businesses allow customers to see and hold a product personally. However, e-commerce provides the convenience of buying items within the comfort of their home.
But that does not mean that you only need to choose one. You can do both.
You can transition to having an online store while ensuring that your retail business is up and running. And here are eight things you need to consider so you can start on the right foot:
1. Choose the Right Selling Platform
When choosing the proper sales channels, you have different options. Here are some examples:
An online marketplace is usually an app or website that allows you to shop from various sources. However, the thing with online marketplaces is they do not own an inventory that is being sold.
Instead, it allows one to create an account and then list products for sale. The most significant advantage of online marketplaces is that these platforms already have a vast customer base that you can tap to.
Moreover, you can integrate various payment gateways and fulfillment services. Going through an existing platform also allows you to take advantage of dropshipping.
Social Media Networks
In case you do not know, social media and e-commerce go hand in hand. Marketers have been using social media platforms to connect with their e-commerce customers for some time now.
That’s because more and more internet users prefer to shop online and use social media to look up brands they want to follow.
If you are still not convinced, do you know that 76.8% of internet users worldwide purchased online in 2020? Additionally, 44.8% of internet users are using social media to look up brand-related information.
This is often a typical example of what most people think of online commerce ‒ shopping through a website.
Basically, you have two types:
- Online sales only.
- Companies that have built websites to complement their physical stores.
You should also note that customers usually do not have a lot of time to look precisely at what they’re searching for. So, the easier it is for your site to navigate, the more customers you will convert!
Also, check out these pretty handy offline marketing tips to boost your business in 2021 and beyond.
2. Set Up a Good Merchant Account
Your merchant account comes with your selling platform. This is usually how your site processes payments and can make or break the user experience.
Usually, your merchant account is one of the essential aspects of e-commerce. When you choose a merchant account, less is often more.
One of the biggest problems that online sellers face is abandoned carts.
Fortunately, you can cut this number in half by making your checkout as quick and easy as possible on your site. Once you master the basics, your transition into selling online will be as seamless as possible.
3. Know How to Protect Your Customers
You need to keep in mind that there are risks when you’re running a business online.
Data breaches have been more prevalent than ever before. That’s why it’s your job to protect users from those that might steal their personal information.
Ideally, you want them to shop where they feel safe and secure. Your customers should also know that their credit card information is safe. That’s why you need to ensure that their security is one of the main priorities.
There are many ways to keep a website secure. But one of the best ways to do that is to work with an expert. Your site should also have a server that’s secure via an SSL certificate. Usually, these steps are easy and a great way to keep your site safe.
You need to think of proactive ways to secure your site, and you should take any security threats seriously. Even a slight issue with site security can hurt the reputation of your online business.
4. Find the Right Inventory Management Software
An inventory management system allows the quick processing of orders and helps balance the quantity.
Moreover, proper inventory planning allows you to check on the stocks of raw materials, as well as ready stocks.
Inventory management software is excellent because it lets you quantify the work in progress. It also allows you to complete product details with accessories’ information. Furthermore, it will enable you to track inventories at every level.
5. Learn to Navigate a Shared Inventory
Your online sales might be booming, but some of your orders might not be packed yet. So, it seems like you have 20 available stocks ready to shelve when in reality, you online have five.
If your employees are not aware of these online sales, then chances are these stocks will be shelved and sold. As a result, it may cause some shipping delays.
To avoid problems like these when managing a shared inventory, you need to account for the item’s availability. The same thing goes for your physical stock.
Monitoring this information might be tricky, especially if you have to keep track with manual counting. You need to update the stock availability based on both online and in-store sales.
Integrating your POS systems means that it is easier to track in-store purchases. The same thing goes when you combine your online channels.
6. Find a Reliable Shipping Solution
Never underestimate the power of a reliable shipping solution, as this is one of the best strategies for e-commerce success. Customers don’t like to wait for packages to arrive late. They also won’t stick around if they’re damaged or may contain the wrong items.
The e-commerce costs could quickly add up as well. Therefore, without an effective e-commerce solution, you’ll find yourself in trouble.
Here are examples of e-commerce shipping solutions worth considering:
This is an order fulfillment model wherein you keep your inventory and do the shipping yourself.
Usually, you’ll have to lease warehouse space or hire employees to pack and pick up orders. You also need to create a system or use a piece of software to manage your orders, your inventory, and the shipping process.
Usually, this type of order fulfillment method doesn’t require you to keep your products in stock.
Instead, the store will be the one to sell the product, pass the sales order on to a third-party supplier, which will then ship the order to the customer. Learn more about dropshipping.
One of the main differences between local delivery versus ecommerce shipping is the way it’s being handled.
One doesn’t need national or international carriers to deliver products locally. Often, all you need to do is drive around and deliver the package by yourself.
You might need to tap your existing employees, hire new people, or work closely with a local delivery company.
Usually, this is the midpoint between shipping and in-store shipping.
Although you can substitute for both, these are usually limited or less appealing for the current circumstances. However, you can add this option to your standard shipping methods as well.
7. Go Mobile
A lot of shoppers these days can access the internet via their smartphones. Therefore, your site should be mobile-friendly, as well.
Although most designs are mobile-friendly, you need to constantly test out your site to make it easy to navigate on mobile.
Ideally, your store should look great on mobile as it would on a desktop. That way, more and more customers will be engaged in your business.
8. Foster Customer Interaction
Just because you are selling online, it does not mean that you can’t interact with customers. More and more people are looking for businesses and brands that they can trust.
That’s why your online business should be as authentic as possible, and do not be afraid to reach out to your customers.
One of the most natural ways you can interact with them is through social media. Make sure that you keep posts upbeat and conversational.
Do not try to oversell your products. Rather, create genuine relationships with your customers.
The more natural and authentic that you are, the more you will grow your following.
That’s why you should have accessible contact details. Some great examples are the click-to-call function, live chat feature, and contact forms. Doing so can help break down communication barriers between you and your customers.
Over to You
There is no denying that it is now easier to start an online business. Hence, it only makes sense for business owners to adapt if they still have not.
Nonetheless, it would be best to pivot with your best foot forward. And we hope that the tips listed above can help you do just that.