More and more, customers are turning to online retailers for cut-rate prices on their consumer goods. Amazon rules the land of literature, Etsy has the market cornered on homemade items, and E-bay is the “go to” place for just about anything. The savvy shopper can buy anything they want without ever leaving the comfort of their own living room—and retailers are realizing this.
If you are contemplating starting a brand new E-Commerce venture or adding an online component to your existing brick and mortar store, there are a few important questions that you must be able to answer first.
1. How will you meet demand for your product?
Managing inventory for an online business is very different from that of a storefront. Not only will you need to find suppliers that can provide you with a quality product at competitive prices, but they must also be able to fill large orders quickly. Shoppers are more likely to engage in comparative shopping online, so pricing is extremely important, but online shoppers are also more likely to order in large quantities.
2. What payment methods will you offer?
Online financial transactions are quite different from ones carried out face-to-face. As an online retailer, you will have to decide what options you will offer and seek out the best providers. You will need to accept credit cards online or you may wish to team up with a Third Party such as PayPal.
3. How will you ship your products?
Shipping sounds straight forward enough, but it actually requires you to make several decisions. What shipping provider will you use, will you ship out of country, and will you offer multiple services? How much will you charge for shipping? Will you offer free shipping on purchases over a specified dollar value? How will you track a package during transit? These are all things that you must consider.
4. Will you promote your product using social media?
Many successful online retailers use social media platforms to interact with customers and attract business. You will need to become social media savvy or hire someone to engage in these duties on your behalf.
5. Who will photograph your products?
You will need to create top-quality photos of the products that you sell and you will need to keep them up-to-date. This will require you to either brush up on your photography skills or develop a working relationship with a skilled and reliable professional.
6. How will you handle returns?
In a brick and mortar store, the customer can simply return a defective product in person. E-commerce customers will need to be able to contact you or your employees via telephone, e-mail, or an online chat. They will also need a method of shipping the product back to you.
7. How will you instill trust?
Some people are uncomfortable with online transactions. Even frequent internet shoppers are leery of dealing with an unknown E-Commerce entity. How can you make them comfortable dealing with you and create a sense of trustworthiness? You will need to ensure that customers can contact your business and interact with actual humans. And you should also integrate security badges into your site such as Verisign or McAfee. This will provide your clientele with a sense of security.
As you can see, there are a number of important details that must be contemplated before embarking on an E-Commerce site. With some research, a financial safety net, the right products, and some marketing prowess, you can create a successful online business. Get at it.
What sets your favorite online retailers apart from the competition? Are there any products that you would never consider buying through the internet?