E-commerce can be a great standalone business, or an addition to your existing sales. There are numerous examples of companies that have successfully used online retail to their advantage.
The Thorpes of Gosforth Fireside Shop, an English store that supplies everything to do with fireplaces, is a great example of a traditional company using the Internet for develop their online business. As a BBC report explains, this store has been able to use its unique selection of products to drive online sales and build interest in order to get people to see the store for themselves.
Many professional services have also moved online. E-commerce has been used for services in some innovative ways such as Lulu’s easy self-publishing plaform, or Dukits, an online service that lets people commit to buying concert tickets to assure that events have a significant audience.
A service like Dukits could hardly exist as an offline service, but a business like The Thorpes of Gosforth Fireside Shop also has a lot to gain from offering their services online. In this post, we explain three ways that e-commerce can benefit any business.
1. Reach More Customers
According to Stats Canada, 80 per cent of Canadians over the age of 16 used the Internet for personal use, and more than half ordered goods or services for personal or household use. Offering goods and services online instantly opens your business up to a greater potential clientele than a traditional store.
Rob Wight, CEO and co-founder of e-commerce technology company Channel Intelligence, has written that people are often driven to e-commerce for greater options because the Internet as a whole, after all, has a selection that no single brick-and-mortar store could match.
Furthermore, e-commerce lets you reach groups of consumes that are not easily reached through stores. These often include businesses with specialty products and services, where you can create a niche through the products and services you provide as well as how you sell them. Excellent customer service, presentation, and your knowledge of the industry can also make your company stand out.
With more different products for sale online, you have a greater opportunity of taking advantage of the Long Tail, a key online business model identified by Wired editor Chris Anderson. He reasons that more niche items that sell in small quantities could amount to or even exceed the value of a handful of top selling ones. Chances are that there’s someone who wants to buy a specialty or niche good (such as The Thorpes of Gosforth’s hearth supplies) given consumers’ wildly diverse needs and tastes.
Also, Wight has been finding that consumers are seeking a wider variety of products beyond the typical categories of electronics, apparel and books. Products like coffee, soap and diapers are now top sellers online — something that would have been unheard of years ago, providing more e-commerce opportunities.
So, don’t assume there aren’t customers to buy your product; there are plenty of people with diverse interests. You just have to reach out to them through your Web presence and online store.
2. Provide a social shopping experience
Lauren Boyer, CEO of social media digital agency Underscore Marketing, says that online shopping provides an outlet for people to socialize — not unlike going to the mall with friends.
“As consumers spend less time actually going to stores, many are seeking out virtual interactions as a replacement for the face-to-face contact they crave,” says Boyer in a recent blog post for Mashable. “Through brand sites that create a community of users, or websites that actually bring shoppers together, consumers are finding a way to create their very own store-like experiences.”
Even if your e-commerce site doesn’t have a community of its own, the opinions and advice of your social network contacts are easily available through a simple Facebook post, Tweet, or email.
Wight further explains, “Your friends can’t always be there when you shop at local stores. But when you’re on the pathway to making an online purchase, your social network is just a Facebook post, Tweet, text or e-mail away. If you want opinions or input on your next purchase, it’s easy to socialize the shopping experience by sharing images and links.”
3. Provide a Simple Path to Conversion
People seek a simple path towards what they want. They don’t want to be led through a maze of webpages and links before arriving at their goal.
Companies that link to another site for their sales may find that customers don’t always follow through with their purchases because they lose interest. Having an on-site store provides a direct place for them to get all your products and services, avoid these customers slipping through the cracks.
According to eSearchVision analytics and strategy director Benny Blum, 93 per cent of purchases happen within three clicks, and the average number of clicks before a conversion is 1.8, based on his data. This means that people are generally looking for a simple and direct pathway to conversion.
Maybe a customer is willing to start their purchase journey on your Twitter or Facebook page and follow you to your homepage and find their way to a page where they can make a purchase — but maybe not. Remember that people only make a small number of clicks, and that you can make it easier for them by providing a landing page with information, photos, and reviews for the product they’re seeking and, of course, a clear way to make a purchase.
E-commerce also provides you a level of control you don’t always have with third-parties. For instance, a site like Amazon.ca will not necessarily promote your products over those from other companies. Having your own e-commerce equipped site lets you present your product or service the way you want.
As you can see, e-commerce provides the customers, the experience, and the path to creating valuable customer relationships.
To learn more about e-commerce, give Kobayashi Online a call. As a full-service digital marketing agency, Kobayashi Online is able to build a custom e-commerce solution to meet your needs.