The Secret to Growing Your Business in 2018: EcommerceJanuary 16, 2018 No Comments
Featured article by Jeremy Sutter, Independent Technology Author
Being a small business owner is tough. Without new customers as well as consistent repeat customers, your business will stagnate, and stagnation is a slow way to go out of business. But getting new customers is never guaranteed, and sometimes it feels like fishing where you know there aren’t any fish.
If you’re a small business owner and you can’t seem to figure out where or how to increase your revenue, you’re not alone. Tons of small business owners are in the same boat as you. The good news: there’s a solution. And not only is this solution available, it’s incredibly efficient and any small business can take advantage. It’s called ecommerce. You’ve heard of it. It’s everywhere.
Now, have you ever considered ecommerce for your own business? If not, it’s time to get with the times. Your business needs more revenue, and for that, you need more new customers, more repeat customers, and higher profits. Ecommerce can get you all three. But you’ve got to do it right.
If you get your Internet sales machine set up properly, with a smooth digital customer experience and reliable sales funnels, ecommerce can take your small businesses you never thought possible. Keep reading and you’ll find out exactly what ecommerce is and exactly what it can do for your business if you take the time to really succeed with it.
What Is Ecommerce?
Ecommerce, in a nutshell, is business transacted over the Internet.
There are a variety of ways many businesses are already using the Internet. The most common is an ecommerce website, where products and/or services are listed on a website, like in a catalogue or a menu. Website visitors are able to select the items they want, pay with a credit card or PayPal, and have those items delivered to their homes or offices, or else have services activated and carried out on the other side.
Some businesses have smartphone apps created specifically for shopping online. It’s essentially the same thing as a website – users find the products or services they want, then pay for it, then it comes to them.
There’s also plenty of existing platforms you can take advantage of – Google provides plenty of opportunities for small businesses to make themselves more visible, and most industries have their own platforms you can partner with. For example, the auto industry has Cars.com, the legal industry has Avvo, the Real Estate industry has realtor.com, and so on. All a business has to do is follow those platforms’ instructions to the very best of their ability, and the platforms will do a lot of the heavy lifting.
Simple, right? In theory, yes, but again – this can go very well if done right, or very poorly if done wrong. (There’s more on this below.)
A Whole New Audience
With your business accessible online, you now have a way to present your offerings to a group of customers you’ve never met before.
This can be beneficial to any local business. There’s almost a 0% chance that you’ve met every potential customer in your own neighborhood, let alone in the surrounding neighborhoods or your entire city or your entire region. Just about everyone who could be your customer is online in some fashion.
This can also be beneficial to small businesses who aren’t based in any particular location – software businesses, for example, or delivery dispatchers, locksmiths, garage door specialists, contractors…any business that goes to their customers as opposed to having their customers come to them – these are all businesses that can benefit tremendously from the Internet.
New audiences are there, and in those new audiences are new customers. This may also include customers who purchased from you already – though perhaps years ago, long enough to forget about your products and services, and would otherwise be a lost customer for good without the convenience of the Internet!
Greater Convenience for Your Existing Customers
Speaking of customers who’ve bought from you before: ecommerce is incredibly effective at increasing the average lifetime value of every customer in your book.
If a customer already knows you and they already trust you and they want to buy from you again but can’t seem to make the time to make it into your store, guess what? They definitely have time to visit your website and get what they wanted to get. You can get repeat business faster than ever before, and you can get more repeat business.
Always Available, 24/7, 365!
Having an ecommerce website or smartphone app for your small business is definitely worth whatever you invest into it.
Think about it – how much do you think you’d have to pay even one employee to work 24 hours a day, every single day of the year? With no breaks and no coffee and no complaining?
Well, that’s exactly what ecommerce websites and apps do. They are available when your customers want your offerings. Your customers never have to wait, because they can all be on the website buying at the same exact time.
But again, you need to do it right – every business is unique, so there’s no one-size-fits-all magic bullet.
Don’t cheap out on your ecommerce setup – the less you put into it, the less you’ll get out of it.
But if you create a great ecommerce setup, you’ll have a brand new way to get more new customers, more repeat business, and more sales that’ll pay for itself over and over and over again.
You Know What You Get
Because ecommerce channels are digital, they are 100% trackable. This means you’ll know your exact ROI for every dime you spend on it.
And here’s a pro tip for you small business owners: use Google Analytics. It’s entirely free and is the industry standard for tracking, measuring, and achieving your business goals.
Getting Ecommerce Right
Combined with digital forms of advertising, your ecommerce site can directly reach interested buyers MUCH more effectively than TV or Radio or Direct Mail hoping to result in increased foot traffic.
But you’ve got to do it right. If you miss the mark, you could lose a lot of time and potentially a lot of money, too.
Luckily, the Internet is full of sound advice for free. It’s like having the biggest library in the world at your fingertips.
There’s a lot of noise and bad advice to come with it, so try to stick to industry pros. To get you started, lookup Neil Patel and his in-depth blog post on how to set up a small business ecommerce site.
You don’t have to read all the advice out there, and you certainly shouldn’t follow all of it. But there is good advice to be found, and if it seems like it’ll work for your own small business, then you should trust your instincts.
Plan For the Future
Again, every business is unique – so make sure you understand your own unique business goals, determine realistic, achievable benchmarks, and partner with a trustworthy team to create and maintain your small business ecommerce. If you plan for the future, you’ll build for the future, and your business will flourish!APPLICATION INTEGRATION, CLOUD COMPUTING, DATA and ANALYTICS , MOBILE, OPEN SOURCE, SECURITY, SOCIAL BUSINESS