It seems common sense that in 2018 you should have an online presence, but I bet there are still some of you out there that do not have an e-commerce website. But why should you sell online? Here we look at the importance of e-commerce in your sales strategy.
In 2016, £133bn was spent online with UK retailers (IMRG Capgemini eRetail Sales Index), which amounted to £18bn more than in 2015. This strong performance was fuelled by the continued growth of sales made on smartphones, demonstrating not only the importance of having an e-commerce website, but having one that is mobile responsive.
As buyers shun traditional brick-and-mortar locations, it is important as ever to capture the online market.
What are the benefits?
The internet is a wonderful thing. It provides both retail giants and even the smallest of companies with a platform to sell their goods. Getting started online is relatively manageable and affordable, with some suppliers even providing blank websites pre-loaded with their products ready for you to add your own branding and start selling.
Having an e-commerce presence allows buyers to find you. They may not realise they needed the service you supply or the designs you produce initially, but your online presence may just change their mind, as shoppers spend more and more time online researching their purchases beforehand. By having your decorated garments listed online in an e-commerce system you improve your chances of appearing in search engine results pages, thus increasing the potential for future sales.
Your online store also allows you to sell 24/7, enabling your customers to shop at a time convenient to them. Online shopping can save time for both the buyer and retailer, reducing phone calls about availability, specifications, hours of operation or other information easily found on company and product pages.
Selling direct online increases your reach. With an online store, your profits are no longer limited by the number of customers that can visit your physical store.
An e-commerce system provides real time data and analytics about your products and your customers. You can see how people interact with the site, what products interest them, what they left in their basket and how much the average purchase was. Valuable metrics that allow you to make adjustments to meet your customers’ needs.
And finally, having a website cuts out the overheads traditionally associated with a high street presence.
Considerations when building your e-commerce website
- Create a user focused experience. Provide product details and information in a clear and concise manner. It’s important to help users through the online buying experience where they are unable to touch or try-on the products.
- Use reviews and trust seals. According to KissMetrics, 5% of shoppers say that online reviews influence their buying decision.
- Make sure information is readily available and there are no surprises, such as unexpected postage costs. More than a quarter of shoppers will abandon their basket if presented with unexpected postage costs.
- Allow guest checkout and ensure checkout is secure. Many shoppers will abandon a basket if they are required to create a new user account or have payment security concerns.
- Make customers feel good about their purchase. Be helpful and personalise the experience. Just as with in-person interactions, online first impressions matter.
- Gather feedback and data that will help you constantly improve the customer experience.
- Make sure your e-commerce is mobile friendly. With shoppers increasingly turning to their smartphone to make an online purchase this should be a number one priority. Your mobile website should be able to do everything that your desktop website can do.
- Be fluid and evolve. This applies to both your e-commerce site but also the logistics of meeting demand.