According to Statistica, in 2021, over 2.14 billion people bought something online. In addition, numerous studies show that many consumers now go online to carry out research before making a purchase from a physical store or outlet.
In many countries, over 50% of the purchases people make involves them going online. So, it makes sense for physical businesses to run an e-commerce branch as well. Fortunately, that is not hard to do.
Don’t neglect your physical business
But it is important to bear in mind that the e-commerce business model is a volatile one. A website that is ranking in the top 3 positions on Google will get thousands of visitors, which is likely to generate hundreds of sales. But the moment that website drops in the rankings and appears on page 2 all of those potential buyers disappear. That can happen overnight when Google changes its rankings algorithm. Something that they do several times every year.
So, if you have a successful physical business, it makes sense to look after it and keep it profitable.
Use your e-commerce activities in your physical business
Fortunately, there are lots of ways to use your e-commerce business to feed and grow your physical business. For example, when you run a social media campaign or create a banner ad or special offer for your online store, use those same digital ads and images in your store.
As you can see from this digital signage software essentials article it is really easy to do this by setting up digital display screens in your store, gym, salon or clinic. It does not matter what type of physical business you run using display screens is an extremely effective marketing method.
By tracking what ad styles and wording people respond best to online, using surveys, social media comments and the questions your e-commerce customers ask you can learn a huge amount about them. Knowledge that you can use to tailor what you sell in-store and how you market it to make more physical sales.
E-commerce is not only about running an online store
When people think of e-commerce, most automatically assume that means running an online store. After all, that is how most companies sell products online.
But don´t forget to investigate the other options. For example, marketing your products using social media or paying for display ads.
Start with one e-commerce method
However, businesses that are new to e-commerce need to start slowly. Initially, it is best to stick to one selling method or platform, get that right then, later, incorporate other selling methods into the mix. Doing this will enable you to identify which e-commerce format provides you with the highest ROI. Enabling you to focus on that to maximise your profits.
To be able to do this effectively treat the online aspect of your business the same as you do the physical side of things. From the start set up proper accounting processes and stick to them. Including, creating in-depth profit and loss reports, which you monitor weekly. Or better still weekly. As we already mentioned the e-commerce business model is a volatile one. So, it is especially important to pick up on sales drops and take action fast.
The personal touch still matters online
It is important not to think that an online business will run on autopilot. Whilst many sales will be made without the need for any actual interaction between you and your customer, you still need to look after them. To treat them with the same respect as you would if they were standing in front of you and to be ready to help them in the same way.
Many customers will have questions or concerns that they will need to have answered before they will feel confident enough to make a purchase. Including a comprehensive FAQ page on your site is essential. Fortunately, with the right software, for example, the Help Centre App, you can create a FAQ page in minutes.
You will also need a contact page and ideally a live chat facility and/or telephone number. Studies show that being there to answer customers queries in live time boosts sales and helps to build confidence and improves brand awareness. According to Forrester 50% of customers who cannot get a quick answer to their query, simply click away and buy elsewhere.
Consider hiring someone to run your e-commerce business
Without a doubt, taking advantage of e-commerce makes sense for the vast majority of physical businesses. But it does require a considerable time investment, which means that in many cases hiring an online marketing firm to set up and run the online side of your business is the best approach.