The internet has been one of the marvels of our generation, connecting millions and millions of people all across the world. One of the biggest changes that this has brought is the way we purchase products; no longer are we limited to the shops nearby but we can pick up items from all corners of the globe at any time of day or night. E-commerce has quickly become one of the largest new markets anywhere, and with the predicted growth of the internet it is here to stay.
Statistics from the World Bank show that in 2000, around 6.5% of the world’s population, whilst in 2010 this figure had risen to over 27%. By 2020 it is expected to reach well over 40%, some say closer to the 50% mark. This in turn represents a massive market, with more and more people shopping online. So if you thought that it was too late to get into e-commerce, think again, however there are some important rules you need to follow in order to have a chance of success:
The first point of contact on an e-commerce site is the website itself. Whilst you don’t necessarily have to stand out in order to succeed, you need to make sure all aspects of it look professional. For example there should be no missing pages, broken links or anything like that, it just looks unprofessional. Make sure you have a variety of contact details, and a physical address if possible, as well as utilising secure severs and other safe payment options. If you’re looking to persuade people to part with their hard earned cash you need to have most of these in place
Whilst SEO may now be a very over subscribed market, it is still possible to rank well for certain niche phrases. Make sure to pick only a few keyphrases related to your site that are not too competitive, as if you try and go up against IKEA, Tesco, WalMart or the other big boys you will never win. Go for less competitive phrases, and use pay-per-click to appear for results while the site is new and doesn’t have the power to rank naturally.
It is best to explore as many different sales avenues as possible, although they might not all be suitable. Google Shopping is a key sales point for some companies, as is eBay for others, and mobile, or m-commerce is a buying form that is currently exploding in popularity. Conduct some experiments to see which works and converts best for you, but more than one may be the answer.
The final part of a successful online business is the delivery. This obviously varies depending on the products you’re selling, but the whole process breaks down if the customer doesn’t receive their item quickly and in good condition. There are lots of local delivery services that specialise in breaking down larger pallets of goods and delivering them locally, and these are a good option. Many also offer ‘white glove delivery’, whereby products are taken into the home and installed (e.g. televisions or sofas).
If you deal with smaller items, a monthly fee for a franking machine may be a better option, as this will allow you to send unlimited amounts of mail for a flat fee.
Rob works for Nexus DMS, specialist supplier of profiling beds. He runs the e-commerce site of their business, as well as advising people on setting up their own businesses.