SCORE Small Business Blog

Going ‘E-commerce’ is Easier Than You Think
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If you’re considering selling goods or services online, or expanding your brick-and-mortar business to the Web then there are two things you should know:

  1. It’s never been a better time for e-commerce
  2. It’s never been easier to create an online storefront

We all know that more people are increasingly browsing, playing and searching the Web every year.  But did you know that they are shopping and spending more online as well?  In the US, Forrester is projecting online retail sales to reach $370 billion by 2017, up from $231 billion in 2013 — a 10% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) over the next five years.  The growth of tablets and smartphones are boosting consumers’ shopping time online and as a result, they are also spending more money in a wider variety of categories online.  Bringing your business to the Internet means that you are placing your business where the growth of consumer activity and spending will be.  With more businesses jumping into online retail to capture this opportunity, the abundance and quality of tools and services to support e-commerce has increased, making it easier than ever for any business owner to create an online store.

Most people think of a website when it comes to taking their business to the Web.  A website can play a tremendous role in helping you succeed online, but it’s not the only option if you’re not ready for one.  Consider leveraging existing e-commerce and social media platforms – Etsy, Amazon, eBay, Yelp or Angie’s List to name a few – for your online presence. There are many positives: set-up is quick and easy, there’s a built-in base of potential customers, and it’s a great way to get started with a low-commitment, low-budget online presence. If you decide that your sole online presence will be one of these sites, you should still buy your own domain name and have it “point” to your e-commerce page. That way, you will have a single “address” on the Web no matter which site you use—even if you change networks or move to your own company website. You will also get the benefit of an easily-remembered address that touts your brand up-front, as well as a company-branded email through the domain name.

If you want to create your own website, today’s e-commerce website solutions enable non-technical business owners to build an online store by providing everything you may need, such as a shopping cart, hosting for your site and search engine optimization. They can also be very budget-friendly. Building a successful site using these tools will be easier if you follow these three guidelines before you start:

  1. Identify your website needs:  Your online store can be simple and streamlined or a sophisticated multimedia marketing and sales hub. Determine your requirements before you begin building. If you decide you want a lot of bells and whistles on your site, you may want to consider a professional Web developer to help.
  2. Pick a domain name: Your domain name will be your virtual address, and your online identity, on the Web. Even if some solutions offer to host your site on their domain, I recommend putting your website on your own domain name to have a consistent, branded Web address for your customers to remember and to use in your marketing.
  3. Select the right website builder: You can find an array of solutions by doing an Internet search for ‘e-commerce website builder,’ so I recommend taking time to research and compare two to three options.  This will allow you to choose a tool that meets your requirements from Step 1 while increasing the likelihood you end up with additional website features that are bundled at no additional cost.

Remember not all tools are created equal, and selecting the right builder for your needs will save you time and frustration down the line.

The recently published report, Benefits and Barriers of Bringing a Small Business Online: Perspectives From Global Small Businesses, also provides a lot of valuable insight from small businesses around the world about how and why to establish and strengthen your small business’ online presence.

Dan BeldowiczCreator, Social Media BS
Dan is the creator of Social Media BS, an online training course for small business owners, and a sought after Marketing Consultant. He has helped companies including Laughing Cow, Ray Catena Motors and Savant AV to attract new customers through the Internet and Social Media.
SocialMediaBS.com | DanBeldowicz.com | Facebook | More from Dan

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Discussion (1) Comment


  1. Eveline DeniseVisitor

    Referred to you via SCORE’s post today “Never a better time to be online…” I’m a start up freelance writer in Dallas changing careers mid-life. It’s the best time since Guttenberg’s press for writers to launch into self-employment. I’m very interested in your course and look forward to learning more. Cheers and thanks!

 

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