Gone or those days of general Indian mentality of purchasing only by visiting a physical store. Today, online purchase has seen a huge surge. eCommerce Companies like Amazon and Flip Kart have seen a rising popularity, entirely changing the minds of people, who were at once the shoppers only in physical stores.
We do agree that Amazon and Flip kart are big shots. Today, even the small businesses can benefit a lot and compete with these big shots, with an online store. In fact, online store can prove more profitable and convenient to the small businesses in many ways. To make things more clear for you, I have listed a few advantages of eCommerce for small businesses. By 2020, most of the Physical Stores, irrespective of their sizes, will be setting up an Online Store.
With an online store, you may save money on rent and operation cost that a physical store will incur. Your only investment will be on the eCommerce solution that you will be using for developing your eCommerce website, the hosting and set up cost and any labor for marketing and advertising your eCommerce website.
Visitor tracking and statistics
With Google analytics you will be able to know from where your Customers are finding you and visiting your website, from which region, which country, age group of your Customers and more. You may also use tools like Crazy Egg or Mouse Flow to track the cursor movement when your Customers are browsing your online store. This way, you will be able to keep track their behavior, their search pattern, and the way they interact with your website. All these data will serve as a good resource for marketing and re-targeting and to offer discounts for your regular Customers. It is difficult to get these kind of information with the visitor traffic to a physical store.
Search Engine Traffic
Search engines serve as the best tool for tracking online activities of people. Instead of continuously pushing out marketing messages and trying to attract people to your store, you may pair your Customers' search queries with products and information that exists online. If you rank well on the search engine like Google, you will be able to achieve a good monthly traffic to your website that can convert into sales. In addition, if you have listed your products on Amazon, you may get considerable traffic from their search engine too.
Social Media Traffic
Earlier, only the Content Writers like me had the ability to voice opinions about a product, by giving online reviews to influence buying patterns of new products. However now, everyone has this ability to speak out their mind and recommend products to their Friends on various social media channels like Face book, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Instagram and more.
Product Inventory Tracking
With the purchase of your product happening online, you can easily send the order to fulfillment process and also track if the product has been shipped out to the Customer. You can also keep track of how much of a product is left, when a product is out of stock and when you need to order more of those products.
This is one of the best advantages in online store. When a Customer visits a physical store, it is highly unlikely that the shop owner will persuade the Customer to provide his email address.
In online store, it is entirely a different story. Customers will have to provide their email address to receive the order confirmation and notifications on when the product was shipped and when it will be getting delivered. With the email addresses of the Customers in hand, you may keep reminding them about your online store, send them offers and discounts and drive them to visit your store again and again.
Written mouth of word reviews
You might be having a lot of fans in your local community. But, still that doesn't assure you that those fans will always voice their appreciation on your store to new Customers. Because, they might have visited you store only for their need or proximity or interest. If it is out of interest that they visited your store, then, you need to convince them on the quality of the products and why should they purchase that product from your store. After they have purchased the product, they would recommend your store to others only based on their need or if they are residing close by to your store or if they show similar interest on your products.
Whereas in online it's easy for you to get Customer reviews and reviews around the web to build reputation among the prospects.
Automated Customer Feedback and Comment
Every business have to deal with Customer feedback, questions and complaints. A Customer obviously wouldn't search for a support manual, fill out a survey form or mail in a question.
Whereas, in an online store, a Customer will search for a support manual online, mail in a question, and also fill in a survey form.
Labor Cost Advantages
Just because you are running an online store in India, it doesn't mean you have to set up a warehouse in India or hire staff in India You can hire a staff member out of the country to take advantage of tax or labor costs. This is one advantage in Online store.
Similar to the previous point, you don't have to be in India in order to run your business You can peacefully take a beach holiday along with your family in Mauritius, as long as you have shipping and fulfillment process in place.
Larger Market Place and Market ROI
If you are running a physical store in a small town in India, your potential Customers are limited to the population of only that town. Even if your marketing strategies are effective, it will be constrained to the population of that town.
If you have an online store, you will be on the online market place, your reach will be global and your potential Customers are not limited to the population of any particular place. You may cater to the needs of both domestic as well as Internal Customers. Of course, you cannot deny on the fact that you will be competing at a larger scale, but the conversion rate and sales you will be achieving will certainly prove the worthiness of facing the competition in the International market. However, you should always bear quality of the products in mind.
Use of Automated marketing engine, reducing manual efforts
When you are now thinking about online store, then, you may as well put a step forward to know about automation, scaling and location independent businesses .
You may completely automate your marketing with social media software, email marketing tools and a blogging engine.
These are the examples of a few such tools:
• Bugger or Hootsuite for social media scheduling and analytics
• MailChimp for email scheduling and analytics
• WordPress for blog post scheduling
Potential for Impulse Purchases
You might be already familiar with Window Shopping. Let's say you own a physical store in a Mall. You have displayed a few products for people to see. When people are passing by your shop, whether they had a prior intention to buy the product or not, they tend to get attracted and make an impulse purchase.
Similarly, social media like Face book and Instagram serves like a mall with window display. People visit social media for various reasons. However, when they come across your ad or post, they tend to get attracted, click on the ad, visit your online store and end up making an impulse purchase.
Repeat Customer and Product Data
The analytics of a web store makes it easy for you to identify, who are the repeat Customers, do they visit your online store to buy a particular type of product, do they buy the product in regular intervals. All these data will serve as a good tool for giving reward points and offers and discounts for your repeated and loyal customers. Also, using this information, you may up sell other similar products.
An online store makes it easier for you to know how a particular ad on Google or Face book performed, what is the ROI of your marketing efforts
You can do A/B testing, get click through data, and easily calculate the customer acquisition costs. This is a harder job in field marketing. You can never get access to data like how many people saw your banner on a high way. Even if you distributed the flyers, how many of them went through it, how many engagements and conversions happened, all these data go out of the track and missing.
Now that you are convinced with the effectiveness of eCommerce for your store, the next thing that will arise in your mind is the cost of setting up an online store. Setting up an online store is definitely not an expensive deal like the way you have assumed.
An open source eCommerce solution supported by a Community is certainly the best choice that works out in a cost effective manner. If you are looking for something more than this, with a good technical support and a team who can support you completely from the backend, then you may opt for a solution that also has option for long term support on a monthly fee model or one time installation and set up cost with long term support and more such options that can work out in a cost effective manner and also set up an online store with absolutely no hassles. To learn more on easily setting up an online store, visit www.spurtcommerce.com