The prevalence of eCommerce continues to grow and shows no signs of slowing down. While brick and mortar still makes up the majority of sales, eCommerce sales are growing faster.
The National Retail Federation expects US online retail to grow 8% to 12% in 2017. This suggests eCommerce sales will fall between $427 billion and $443 billion. For comparison, brick and mortar is expected to grow at just 2.8%.
With promising numbers like these, many retailers are considering an eCommerce business. It doesn’t matter if you’re expanding your current brick and mortar business or just starting off. You should consider the advantages of eCommerce first.
What is eCommerce
Before you can start an eCommerce business, you should know what eCommerce selling entails.
eCommerce encompasses any commercial transaction that involves the transfer of information across the internet. Therefore, eCommerce can take many different formats.
eCommerce includes a branded website, marketplaces like Amazon and eBay, selling on social media platforms, or anything else of the sort. There are many ways to sell to consumers over the internet, which allows businesses to sell to consumers anywhere, anytime.
Check out some of the major benefits of eCommerce selling.
Top 7 Advantages of eCommerce
These advantages are many of the reasons why merchants are turning to eCommerce and causing sales to grow.
1. Get Up and Running Fast
Unlike traditional retail, your eCommerce store can be up and running in just a few clicks (if you’re looking for a basic store.) eCommerce platforms like Shopify let you use pre-made templates to create your store. Marketplaces like Amazon or eBay just require you to set up an account before you start selling.
For owners looking for a quick start, eCommerce will be your best bet. As long as you have a connection to the internet and a computer, you can start your business from anywhere, even from your couch!
2. Low Cost
In many cases, it costs less to start an eCommerce business. See how:
- Some eCommerce platforms are free to sign-up
- Marketplaces are free to sign- up
- Use drop shipping to procure inventory without a large, upfront investment
- Social media, organic search, and Google Adwords are cost-effective ways to market your business
- Run and manage business by yourself to eliminate costs of payroll
When you’re first starting out, eCommerce allows you to avoid many of the large, upfront investments that traditional retail can incur. You can build out your business as your sales grow.
3. Increase Brand Awareness
In 2014, 81% of shoppers conducted online research before buying. It’s probably safe to assume those numbers have increased since.
Customers research online first, whether they buy online or in-store. Having an online presence helps makes sure that potential customers find your product information and are able to comparison shop. When they do a product search online, you want to be listed among the top results.
This increases your brand awareness so you’re always in front of your customers.
4. Expand Customer Reach
eCommerce provides new channels for you to reach more customers. Whether you’re just starting out or an existing seller, there are new customers to serve.
Existing brick and mortar sellers can be limited by their location. Customers must travel to visit your store. With eCommerce, you can sell to customers anywhere, anytime. This allows you to serve customers across the US, or internationally.
If you only sell on one eCommerce channel, like Amazon, then there’s opportunity to sell on your own site to reach new customers. All eCommerce channels have a unique audience for sellers to take advantage of. For new sellers, eCommerce is the best way to reach the widest audience.
5. Provide More Information
An online presence allows you to provide more information about your products and services to your customers. A branded site especially gives sellers a place to provide key content to customers.
Key product content includes in-depth product descriptions, product comparisons, in-store inventory availability, and pricing. This information helps a customer make their purchasing decision both in-store or online.
Your eCommerce site can also provide more information about your business or how to use your products. Webpages can be dedicated to your brand’s story and how your products are made. Blog posts and videos can also provide helpful content about the use of your products or services.
For example, food companies provide recipes and tips to consumers on their website. This type of content creates a story for your brand while providing an overall better customer experience. In a competitive market, this type of information sets you apart from other sellers.
6. Serve Niche Markets
eCommerce makes serving niche markets even easier. It can be hard for that rare coin collector to find a seller. However, the ease and breadth of the internet makes that search easier. If you sell a niche product or serve a niche market, you might find it easier to distribute your products online. You’ll open your business to a greater depth of consumers.
7. Be Where Your Customers Are
The majority of consumers don’t just research products online. Most consumers are now buying online, too.
According to comScore, shoppers now make 51% of their purchases online, compared to 48% in 2015 and 47% in 2014.
Sell where your customers are. If most of your customers shop online, then you should be selling online! eCommerce allows you to meet the shopping expectations of your customers.
More eCommerce Resources
Are you convinced yet that you should sell online? If you are, here are some more resources to help get you started.
Learn more about the basics of eCommerce by checking out the article eCommerce Basics: How to Get Started.
Learn more about different eCommerce platforms from these articles:
- Need an eCommerce Shopping Cart Solution? Consider These Options
- How to Choose the Best B2B eCommerce Platform for Your Business
- Top 7 Other Sites Like eBay: eBay Selling Alternatives
While there are many advantages to selling online, there’s also some risk. Be sure to educate yourself so you don’t fall victim to anything.
Lastly, multichannel retailers should be strategic in what systems they decide to use. Check out our buyer’s guide to learn more about what eCommerce (along with ERP and POS) systems are best for a multichannel environment. Click the link below to download the guide.