Has your business waded into the world of e-commerce? Nowadays, more and more small businesses are incorporating online shopping platforms as part of their systems. With the ease of access to internet and smartphones, shopping online is convenient and can save customers time and money. The big question remains though; what are the benefits of e-commerce for your small business?
What’s the big deal?
There is an average of $191 million online buyers in the U.S. E-commerce sales were about $300 billion in 2014 and projected to reach near $500 billion by 2018. That’s an increase of 14.3% from 2013 to 2014 when total in-store sales increased by only 4%. It’s hard to ignore those types of numbers, right?
Where do rural and small businesses land with e-commerce?
According to a study conducted by our undergraduate researchers looking at online greenhouse retailing, only 10.1% (n=10) sold products online with a full e-commerce site. One participant sold live plants on Amazon, while four had a downloadable form available on its website. The largest response category consisted of 85.9% (n=85) that did not sell any products online. From this study, it was concluded that many garden centers are not thinking of national markets but are solely focused on local selling. (Read more information about this study here.)
With so many bonuses for integrating an e-commerce system, the four advantages below just touch the surface.
- Unlimited Business Reach
A business operating via brick-and-mortar may have challenges in reaching a wide scope of customers outside of its immediate area. E-commerce has enabled local small businesses to reach beyond the borders of their towns and into international masses. There are few limits to where the internet can reach, people can pay for goods and services from literally any corner of the world.
- Increase Sales
According to reliable statistics, there has been a tremendous increase in online sales over the last couple of years. It is estimated that the revenue of a business that incorporates an e-commerce platform can increase up to 250%. This is attributed to the fact that most people prefer the ease of access and convenience that comes with e-commerce platforms. Hello, impulse buying!
- Open 24/7
E-commerce makes it possible for a business to be open and easily accessible round the clock without any increase in overheads that a brick-and-mortar may experience. Transactions and payments can continue being made automatically, without your supervision while you’re sleeping. In case the small business deals in digital goods, the business becomes totally automatic – full transactions, including purchase, and delivery.
- Attract New Customers
Brick-and-mortar retail is run by branding and relationships. Online retail utilizes those aspects as well, but also has traffic driven to it from search engines and social media. It’s not uncommon to follow a link in the search engine results or from Facebook to land on an e-commerce website that the customer has never heard of.
Real life example: Say your business provides specialty chocolates. A potential customer (me!) is looking for a unique and yummy gift for Mother’s Day. The shopper hops on her phone and googles “gourmet chocolates in Kansas City”. Your company pops up, she searches around a bit and realizes she doesn’t need to drive to KC for the treats, she can have them shipped directly to her grandmother’s door as a surprise. Not only did an online transaction take place, but the next time that person is in KC she might end up in your brick-and-mortar location… Because the chocolates were delish and the user-experience online was simple.
How do you know if your business should be using e-commerce?
On June 22, we will be introducing a blog about quiz making and how it can add to your new-media marketing campaigns. I highly suggest tuning back in because we’ve been having fun creating a quiz to see if your business is ready for e-commerce!
In the meantime, do you have any e-commerce questions we can answer for you? What is something that is preventing you from having an e-commerce site? Leave a comment below, or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.