When deciding if eCommerce is the right fit for your company, you'll be faced with the three big eCommerce questions: Why? What? How?
As you move through the process of deciding whether or not e-commerce is the right fit for your company, you’ll be faced with the three big e-commerce questions: Why? What? How? In this post, we will address the most effective approach for answering these questions in your unique situation.
Let’s start off with the biggest one.
Why Would I Do e-Commerce?
The first big e-commerce question is the why. As you work through this question, consider why e-commerce might be beneficial to your specific business. Some available benefits of introducing an e-commerce model are listed below:
- Distinguish your brand
- Connect with strangers/out-of-region consumers
- Nurture prospects
- Lower customer acquisition costs
- Improve customer experience
- Automate repetitive tasks
- Improve cash flow
- Reduce collections efforts
- Shorten your supply chain
- Improve margins
- Shorten sales cycles
- Improve customer service
- Systemize incidents
- Provide customer self-service
- Easier follow-on sales (supplies, service)
- Add communication channels
- Provide rewards and discounts
- Offer payment and financing options
- Display testimonials and case studies
- Increase customer loyalty
As an exercise, make a list of how many of these benefits apply to your company. You might also think of benefits that fall outside of this list. Write those down too. When you’ve finished, you’ll have a visual representation of how beneficial an e-commerce model could be for you.
Next, let’s explore the what.
What Would I Do about e-Commerce?
If you’ve worked through the list of available benefits and found that an e-commerce model can add a lot of value for your business, then you’ll next be faced with the process of committing, planning, implementing, and operating your e-commerce solution. We refer to this as the “what” of e-commerce.
Commit to e-Commerce
Committing to e-commerce is the first big step in making that transition into the world of online selling. When you commit to e-commerce, you will create a vision, identify any resistance items, uncover solutions, and ultimately decide if making the commitment is right for you. We detail this process in its entirety here.
Plan for e-Commerce
Once you’ve committed to e-commerce, you need to make a plan of action for rolling out your e-commerce strategy. First, you’ll need to decide what platform you’ll be using. (We recommend Shopify for customer experience and Amazon if you are looking to leverage a massive network of potential prospects.) Then, you’ll address formalities such as who will be involved, budget, and timeline.
Planning for e-commerce also includes drafting a new business process. As you can imagine, selling online is much different than selling from a brick-and-mortar location. Marketing in the online environment needs to focus on building trust and standing out amidst significantly more competition. Customer support will also look very different, so put some thought into how you are going to engage your customers and maintain high levels of customer satisfaction from afar.
Implement the Solution
When your plan is complete, you’re ready to implement your solution. Implementing your e-commerce solution will consist of three stages: the build, the test, and the launch.
Build the Solution
The approach to building your solution will vary depending on the platform you’ve chosen. If you’ve selected Shopify or a similar platform, building your solution will consist of customizing or developing a theme that is consistent with your branding. If you’ve opted to take advantage of Amazon or another massive network, building your platform will simply include making an account and creating listings for your products.
Test the Solution
Before you take any orders, be sure to thoroughly test your platform. This step is imperative for maintaining a high standard of customer satisfaction. In the testing phase, you will first ensure that your payment system is properly integrated so that payments can be received and easily refunded. You will also check that order notifications and accompanying documents are received by the necessary departments so orders may be filled accurately and efficiently.
Launch the Solution
If your online selling platform has passed the testing phase, you’re ready to launch. Prior to launch, avoid hiccups by ensuring all users have been sufficiently trained to use the new platform. Pick a day to launch and close out any old systems at this date to avoid data corruption. When launching your e-commerce solution, you should think about messaging to your customers and community. Creating a little buzz around your online store opening can help generate traffic.
Operate Your e-Commerce Business
Once you’ve launched, you can begin to integrate some analytics that will help you embark on a path of constant improvement. Assess your online business and define a set of metrics that isolate target areas. Common metrics include the number of visitors, the number of sales, bounce rate, and subscriptions received for free resources.
You should also explore additional areas for enhancing the customer experience. Launching an online store shouldn’t be considered as a “one-and-done” project. For example, you might consider building a customer success team, creating chat bots, or starting a knowledge base so that customers can serve themselves.
How Would I Get Started with e-Commerce?
At Second Spring, we believe the key to success with e-commerce is to start small and grow effectively. Maybe this means you will only be selling one or two key products at the start, but this will give you a chance to understand the basic functionality of your store and to work out any kinks before you grow.
Whatever platform you choose, make sure your store is hosted in the cloud. Gone are the days of using local servers. There’s no value proposition for that in almost any circumstance because the risk now is too high and there are so many more secure alternatives available. Choose something that’s highly configurable and doesn’t need a lot of development. We recommend using tools that are easy to operate and can grow with the needs of your business after the initial launch.
Marketing and customer service are essential components of a successful e-commerce model. Simply focusing on selling will return only mediocre results. Attracting ongoing traffic and generating quality clientele that go on to bring in new business are keys to success in the online selling environment.
Finally, focus on gaining momentum and initiate continuous innovation. Understand that your platform will grow with you and you will likely need to utilize several platforms for optimal success. Beyond the selling platform, you will need to consider the best integrated payment, accounting, CRM, inventory management, and other applicable systems. Be sure that each of these is appropriately scalable with ample support.
If you’re ready to get started with e-commerce, book a clarity call with us here! We’ll help you assess your business, walk you through the process, and equip you with some excellent tailored tools to guide you as you make this exciting transition into selling online.