If you were planning to join the e-commerce family, now is a great time to do so. If earlier the thesis that e-commerce has changed the modern market sounded mainly from business experts, now it is clear to the masses. Selling goods or services through the Internet has its own set of advantages and disadvantages compared to traditional business types. At the same time, businesses need to clearly understand the value of e-commerce in order to use it for profit.
In order to get a truly competitive solution, you will have to develop your own e-commerce application. The most successful companies study all the advantages and disadvantages of e-commerce software long before they start to work on its development. So let’s take a look at the advantages of this majestic type of software and how to use it to enhance your business.
What can e-commerce software do?
- Manage customer requests and control orders. It is vital to manage customer orders from product selection to payment, order processing, and delivery. Each order is a sales operation that will affect your profit. Therefore, it must be done efficiently and comfortably for the customer. E-commerce software takes care of managing orders, checking order status, and making quick changes if necessary. By itself or through a third-party application/service, it can process payments, keep records of transactions, manage customer information, create and issue invoices, maintain accurate records, provide analytics and reports, etc.
- Manage products and inventory. You get product information from articles and variations (size, color, quantity) to names and images, allowing you to organize and catalog products. You’ll also be alerted and informed if inventory is low and which products are in rapid turnover and need replenishment.
- Simplify marketing. For example, if the application has a built-in SEO system, it allows online stores to take higher positions in conventional search engines. This increases their presence on the Internet, as well as reduces the cost of attracting customers.
- Automate delivery and taxation. Printing transport labels, calculating sales taxes depending on the location of the customer, and e-mailing customers with notifications can be done automatically and more accurately.
- Improve the quality of customer service. E-Commerce software is designed to help customers find what they need in your store quickly and efficiently. Hosting solutions offer service level agreements that guarantee 100% uptime and simple but reliable website management, allowing you to provide your customers with the best online shopping experience.
And now let’s move on to the advantages themselves
- Cutting costs
E-commerce is usually less expensive than regular stores. Adding an online component to an existing business doesn’t necessarily involve a high investment risk. In fact, in most cases, creating an e-commerce platform is a much better choice than opening another store if you feel you may easily lose money on it.
Why is it cheaper to set up an online store? Here are some important points to consider:
- Saving money on advertising
Digital advertising is relatively cheap compared to traditional channels, and it is easier to adapt to different budgets. You can use a combination of traditional and digital technologies to promote all your activities or even switch to predominantly digital technologies and save a lot of money.
Messenger mailing is just one example of a simple digital tool that remains a cost effective and easy way to send information to segmented markets. The main thing is to find the user base. Advertising in popular social networks, such as Instagram, can also be a good help.
- Saving on staff
You don’t have to hire a bunch of new employees to staff the next store, in fact, you may consider integrating something like a chat room bot into your social networks and customer service instead of real time support. If you want to work in a super economy mode, then only 2-3 people will actually be enough to work with the site. One will be responsible for the technical part, the second for sales, and the third for the administrative part. However, you should keep in mind that it will be quite difficult for such a team to cope with a large flow of orders. You can also hire an employee from a country with a different time zone if you need people for 24-hour customer service or other events.
- Savings on rent
You can also save money on rent because the room for e-commerce is not required. This is especially true if you already pay for a place to store inventory and are ready to deliver goods from your location.
- Better targeting and more personalization
Digital marketing and sales models, such as e-commerce, can allow you to collect, synthesize, and use customer information and data more easily than traditional channels. This is especially true when you consider events such as customer loyalty programs – in fact, you can more closely track their buying habits, which allows you to more accurately direct marketing and promotional efforts.
You may also find more opportunities to personalize your promotions and other offers because you have customer data that is automatically integrated into the system. If you know how Amazon “recommends” products that they think you like, you can easily do so. You can also segment the target audience based on specific locations, spending habits, or cart bounce rates.
Upsell and cross-selling can also be easier because you don’t get stuck in an uncomfortable situation of personal communication, where a buyer can reject you if they feel pressured. You can simply submit a superstructure offer as part of the shopping cart process.
- Potential income 24/7
Another advantage of e-commerce is that online stores are always open for business. With the help of ads on Facebook, you can attract someone at 11 p.m. or at 4 a.m. anywhere in the world. Most stores are open from 9:00 to 21:00. Being available at any time, you can enlarge your target client base as it allows to attract people who would normally buy goods in a store in unusual working hours.
Think about your audience which doesn’t work at a regular time, or is too busy to go to the store to buy something. The online store allows you to attract those who may have a non-standard work schedule or who do not have the opportunity to buy offline. For a customer to place an order at night, you don’t need to have employees working on the night shift to ensure that all orders are fulfilled. You will never need to hire a security guard! Simply automate your order systems so that customers receive a confirmation e-mail when they place their order so that they can stay cool. This is a significant competitive advantage.
In addition, the B2B e-commerce website, combined with CRM and ERP, provides your sales representatives with access to complete customer information, order history, personalized prices, and instant information about stock availability, whether you are on the move or working remotely.
- Easy to scale
One of the key advantages of doing retail business online is that you can easily optimize and scale your budget according to all other aspects of your business. And it’s not that difficult to scale your business if you see your client base expanding and growing. Your new brand can easily sell to customers around the world. You have the opportunity to find your audience, whether they are in the UK, South America, or elsewhere. This allows you to set your price and deliver your products competitively to a global audience.
You have a global market for your products, free from time, geography and borders. Use your Internet connection to sell to anyone, wherever they are in the world. However, you should be aware that scaling a platform can be a technical challenge. It is best if this feature is built into the system initially, but then you should think about developing a custom e-commerce solution.
- Better client experience
For many technically savvy people who are used to shopping, it is just a smoother and more convenient process. The customer not only doesn’t need to leave the comfort of his own home, but they can also avoid traffic jams, parking lots, and annoying sellers trying to resell or interrupt your conversation with a friend.
When the store is set up correctly, the simplicity of searching, browsing and ordering can easily outweigh the extra shipping cost. This is especially true if special features such as live chat rooms are set up to answer customer questions 24-7. It becomes even more available if you are considering overseas outsourcing or chatbots.
Remember, you have no business without clients. The better you serve your clients, the more money you can make. So, how can you improve your service?
- Segment your base. Segmentation helps you send your customers personalized offers. Scheduled email series are great for this.
- Check your customer data. Check what your customers buy, when they do it, and how much they spend.
- Answer questions. If customers have questions or problems, try to answer or help them as quickly as possible.
Although the e-commerce model also has disadvantages, we will talk about them another time, because the demand for online purchases is growing every day, and tomorrow without online you can simply not withstand the competition. Even if you already have an application, it needs constant evolution and addition of new functionality.
What can you do? Well, if you want to get a truly competitive e-commerce app that will help you stay on the market, you should consider developing a custom solution that will have the functionality able to emphasize the strengths of your business, will take it to a new level, and give an opportunity to implement unique ideas.