Retail, sales, e-commerce, mobile commerce, social commerce. How many ways can a sale be made in 2014? Yes, yes I know we have talked recently about the growth of e-commerce and how important it is to your business model. In an effort to follow up with last week's National Small Business Week blog and Monday's blog on things to consider for web development, today we will delve into things to consider for e-commerce development.
As we have discussed recently, I do not see e-commerce and brick and mortar as competitors but more like partners. Brick and mortar stores need both types of commerce to survive. And, the success of e-commerce has made it possible of retailers that were once online only to open retail stores. Take online eyewear retailer Warby Parker for example. The retailer's strong online e-commerce success has led to growth into the brick and mortar world. Today's retailers need to offer their customers the best of both worlds. So, whether you are a small business without e-commerce ability or a website at all or you are a bigger named retailer looking to expand your sales, below are 5 things to consider for e-commerce.
1. Custom or Boxed Solution. Depending on your product line a boxed solution may not work for everyone. If you offer custom options, a boxed e-commerce solution might not be your best bet. Your store is one of a kind, and maybe your merchandise is too. Will it fit the same e-commerce solution as your neighbor? Having a custom solution developed will ensure your e-commerce store will display the proper options for your unique business.
2. Credit Card processor. There are several options available for processing. Should you use start off with PayPal or another credit card processor? Perhaps you have a brick and mortar store and already have a processor to use. Often these processors can turn on internet orders for your already existing account. Fees may be slightly higher, but you will not need another credit card processor this way.
3. Real-time inventory. Take the hassle out of updating your inventory when you make a sale. Tie your e-commerce website to your inventory by using online inventory management or link your accounting system as well by system integration. Let your website free up your time by updating your inventory, re-ordering low stock or removing sold out times from your store.
4. Shipping options. How do you charge shipping costs? Per dollar amount spent, per zip-code, per weight o the package? Perhaps you offer "Free Shipping" if a certain amount is spent. Often times, this is one area that is overlooked and backtracking can be a hassle.
5. Developer or DIY. Again, there are many boxed solutions out there that work nicely depending on your needs. Not all businesses are the same so there is no reason to expect one solution for all. Your business is unique and if you offer a unique shopping experience you will need a website that is as unique as your business. Take security measures into consideration when entertaining the notion of a DIY. Are you prepared to apply software patches, what is your knowledge on things such as SSL Certificates, data encryption, etc. Do your homework, determine the work involved in a DIY site and make the best decision for your business needs. Contact a professional development firm to go over your available options.
The best way to retain your customer base and attract new customers is to offer options. Don't limit the size of your client base by alienating online shoppers. By offering e-commerce solutions you are offering potential customers the option to shop from you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Allow your e-commerce solutions to help you streamline your brick and mortar sales by tying the systems together in real time. Talk to a developer today to see what options best suit your business needs and reach a larger customer base today!