It is an established fact that online sales are where growth is continuous. Online sale have been growing continuously from the get go, even in times of recession, and in times of economic boom they’ve grown faster than traditional sales
Additionally, the web influences almost 50% of our purchases – more and more people are checking out products online before heading out to the brick and mortar. Consumers are getting quite used to comparing prices and instantly knowing whether the product is available. And data from Experian Hitwise shows that ecommerce traffic increases in a shaky economy – mostly because buyers research purchases more thoroughly online before committing to buy.
During the holiday season we shop for gifts, and buying a gift is a chore only if you don’t know what to buy. People have flocked to the web for help in that regard, looking for inspiration and browsing for ideas – especially younger consumers.
So, with all that, if you are planning on having a successful business that relies on your product being sold to actual humans… You really don’t need to think about whether you should have an eshop. You need to already have it, or at least have a plan to set up one.
And if you still need persuading, what better way to begin than by presenting you with some of the most important ways in which an ecommerce website of your own will benefit your business and your bottom line.
With an ecommerce website you can…
Collect Leads and Customer Data
Direct marketing via email is still an extremely effective strategy to increase sales. As always, the chief challenge is to find leads, be they new customers or returning customers (which is the case much more often). This opportunity simply isn’t available to businesses running strictly physical stores.
When a customer is asked to fill out a piece of paper or to have a chat with a surveyor at the store checkout, for most people it feels like an interruption, an unwelcome blockage in their life or routine, not to mention an intrusion on their privacy, even if all they have to do is just jot down an email address.
But online, forms and filling out stuff feels more natural – forms, typing words, pop ups, all those are a part of everyday online experience for millions of people. Perhaps counter-intuitively, not having to deal with a live person actually helps data gathering in this case, because it is done naturally, as a part of the process of buying the product, not as some late and surprise addition to your purchase. Gathering key lead info online is much more effective as a website visitor has the power to choose and can do relinquish information on their own time.
Also, all prospective customers i.e. website visitors can be asked to leave their info, which is impossible to do in meatspace – and this thing alone would make collecting leads online a far more effective method.
Make Shopping Really Convenient For the Consumer
Some would say that the chief factor of driving sales is the price. Other say product quality. The practical-minded retail experts know a simple fact: today, it is mostly about convenience, i.e. time spent.
In the brick and mortar world this means location. But in the ecommerce world, the playing field is level, since all it takes are a few clicks and maybe some keyboard strokes and you can get to any shop online.
Anyone can find your store online – and buy from you without using up their time and energy. Well, except maybe a little research and price comparison – and these are also by orders of magnitude easier to do then if you go shopping with a purely physical-oriented mindset.
People prefer shopping online because it gives them the ability to shop when they want; including times that your store is closed. Remember, your site is ALWAYS open (except when your server is down, but that usually isn’t – or shouldn’t be – something you can do anything about).
Get the Word Out
Any store worth the brick and mortar it was built of has to have promotions and sales. But for those types of sales increase activities to be successful, consumers must know about them.
Your ecommerce store is a superb channel for marketing your special promotions and offers – and these are a uniquely effective way to gather email addresses, since there are bound to be more buyers when you offer a discount, which means more email addresses in your prospect book.
Visitors to both your online and offline stores should be exposed to these promotions as much as possible, so they can take advantage of them. Promotions not only boost short-term sales but also help you in the long run, since they can easily be made in such a way as to require sign-up, which means more email addresses in your database and more potential future sales.
Having your personal ecommerce website speaks volumes. It says that the business is trustworthy – why on Earth would you ask for money without providing the customer the ability to touch or test the product if you were not?
An ecommerce website is more than a channel or a medium: it is in itself a message that says “hey this is a serious business”. Of course, for this message to be taken seriously, your sight needs to be slick, well-designed graphically (or at least decently) and UX-wise. But above all, it needs to work well and be simple to navigate and use.
Through your brand image, you are sending the world a message that you are willing to put in that extra effort in order to improve customer experience. And an e-commerce website is the best way to really put the customer first and allow for a customized – if somewhat devoid of human touch – shopping experience, thereby building your brand’s image in direct interaction with your customers.