Consumers demand free shipping (and you know they can get it at Amazon), so shipping costs absorb the savings of not having to run a physical store. Higher returns counteract less shrinkage problems. And so many online stores also have physical stores that the idea of reducing staff costs may not be realized. Is e-commerce worth it?
Does the reach of your products need to be extended to succeed?
Starting by asking yourself this question, it forms the basis for switching to or from an e-commerce model. Building an e-commerce presence will largely depend on the products you offer, which requires developing a combination of offline and online marketing strategies to give your products and services the visibility they need to stand out from the crowd. However, this is a trick: can you sell your services in such a way as to stand out from the rest?
For example, a small boutique sells special goat milk soap. An internet search engine reveals many stores selling a similar product. However, if you adjust the search parameters to make them more specific, you’ll only find a dozen stores selling the same fragrances you have.
So who needs e-commerce?
E-commerce is growing faster than physical retail purchases. This is definitely a wave of the future. However, the idea of opening a small online boutique and picking up money while relaxing on the beach is not really useful. When does e-commerce make financial sense? Check if you recognize yourself here:
- Brands without a physical store. If you have a specialized brand without a physical store or limited distribution in physical stores, you need to rely on e-commerce to deliver your goods to customers. Small, agile companies can handle small, agile e-commerce stores – if they sell something other than big guys.
- Brands looking for data. A small e-commerce store can provide a lot of information about customers and their needs. Although we fully understand what HBR says about the difficulties in tracking people all along their way to buying, the example of e-commerce gives you an invaluable position as a focus group.
- Brands with customers. Regular customers have no problem with the fact that they have many contact points on their way to purchase. They like to do research when and where they feel like it, and then buy the item anywhere, including in their pajamas. No e-commerce? Your customers won’t love you almost as much. Ecommerce is required if you have a fan community.
- Brands with a future. We meet people who seem convinced that this matter with the Internet will end soon. They will not have a fridge that orders groceries when they run out, or a magical book-like device that will help them buy more books directly on the screen after completing their current reading. If it’s not you, you’ll probably notice that e-commerce may be important in the future.
Your advantage as a small retailer
While large networks often have deeper pockets and larger marketing budgets, small businesses have several distinct advantages over large guys.
Your flexibility: One of the biggest advantages you have as a small retailer is the ability to be more flexible in how and how you make changes to your website and store.
Whether it’s a product price change or testing, you can easily and quickly make business decisions to achieve desired results to see how customers respond to a promotional pop-up window. Small retailers usually have faster and more efficient decision making, while large companies are often bothered by bureaucracy.
Your ability to build real relationships: You probably know the names of your clients and what they like. You can even hear about their day! As a small business, you build relationships whenever you talk in person or over the phone with a client.