Sidhartha Tripathy
IT Consultant | Blogger

E-commerce-10 steps to move your business digital

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Background

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shopping online

The world is moving towards digital for many years. More and more businesses are creating their presence online in various forms. 

Yet many businesses either are not present online or have an online presence but not into e-commerce.

Many are not able to take full advantage of online channels due to lack of interest and focus.

This blog will help you understand why this is the right time for you to focus more on moving your business digital.

Digital Commerce is the most powerful sales channel to increase your sales and help you stay relevant in front of your customers.

Why E-Commerce?

I have written a separate blog on this. 

Before Pandemic e-commerce was progressing steadily in the last 20 years but the sudden lift it got during the lockdown is very critical for all businesses to understand and act quickly. 

Earlier consumers were buying a set of products which they were comfortable with but during COVID19 lockdown they were forced to buy various other types of products.

Even after the lockdown restrictions are over, consumers will continue to buy over digital platforms and e-commerce will become the primary channels in a few years.

Businesses which are not investing or have a strategy to go online or adopt e-commerce will face challenges and more importantly lose business to competitors who will adopt digital sales channels and make the customer experience better. 

Many traditional brick and mortar businesses are planning to reduce their shops and move to e-commerce and make the digital channel as primary post-pandemic and investing heavily on this. 

Benefits

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e-commerce benefits

Below are some of the benefits of adopting e-commerce for your business and selling or marketing online.

Staying Relevant – The world is becoming tech-savvy and wants to use digital platforms for various transactions. If you don’t move to the digital platform then there are chances of becoming obsolete as the taste and behaviour of people is changing rapidly

Cost Reduction – Compared to brick and mortar shops, e-commerce channel is cost-effective to build and manage. Many companies see a greater value in e-commerce and return on investment compared to physical stores and want to cut down the costs by promoting e-commerce channels and reducing the number of shops.

Improving Sales – Additional sales channel will fetch more sales and e-commerce is becoming the mainstream channel so it will boost the sales if implemented properly

Fast Decision Making – Since e-commerce will be based on digital technologies it will be easy to understand the impact of campaigns, sales and other information to make decisions quickly.

Also, it’s way to update the look and feel of the e-commerce channel compared to the traditional brick and mortar shop which takes more time to do a makeover and changes if something goes wrong.

Similarly, if a campaign is not performing well we can stop it at any point of time and make changes to the campaign and start a fresh one.

Steps to adopt E-commerce

You need to perform the below steps to kick start your E-commerce journey. This will give you initial information to begin but you need to explore more and take help from professionals to venture into E-commerce for success

Different ways of E-commerce

There are various ways to do business online. I wrote a blog on this for further reading

For this blog, we will focus on e-commerce and how to adapt to your business. Other forms of online channels are there as well but we will discuss more on a separate blog, for example, drop shipping, fulfilment by amazon etc.

Assessment for E-commerce

First thing is to do a proper assessment of your existing business or if you have any plan for a new business. 

I have written a blog on how to perform a detailed assessment on CRM, e-commerce and digital marketing for you to read and understand the process well.

This is a key step and it always advisable to take the help of professionals with multiple years of experience in this field and knowledge on the future trends

Post assessment you can start your execution plan to venture into an e-commerce journey with proper help from skilled IT and Digital Marketing resources.

E-Commerce Platforms

A few years back businesses used to spend a heavy amount of money and time to build their own e-commerce platforms using IT teams.

Nowadays it has become very easy and faster to have an e-commerce store of your own using readily available subscription-based e-commerce platforms

These platforms make the life of business owners simple and help them to start their e-commerce channel very fast and easy to maintain with secure transactions.

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Below are the current market leaders in e-commerce platforms but very soon more platforms and competition will come due to the fast adoption of digital channels by business 

  1. Shopify
  2. BigCommerce
  3. WooCommerce

Each of these platforms has its advantages and strengths-based on certain parameters you can select the right platform for your business. 

Apart from above niche platforms, we have platforms like Dynamics 365 Commerce from Microsoft, Magento from Adobe, Commerce Cloud from Salesforce.com

Selecting the right platform is a key aspect and has to be done along with industry experts as once finalized it’s difficult to change.

Setting up and Managing E-commerce Platforms 

While these platforms reduce the complexities of coding and other technical aspects of IT to a great extent, creating and maintaining a proper e-commerce store requires the right amount of skills and effort.

Your e-commerce platform will be very dynamic in nature and the content will change very frequently depending on your business type, size, customer base etc.

To create and maintain these platforms it needs several skills and more importantly, apart from IT, you need creative skills like designing, content creation etc for your regular promotions and product and service listing.

If you have competent people who can learn these platforms and can spend the effort required to maintain the platform then you can plan to do it inhouse but it’s always better to approach IT vendors to create and maintain it.

Reach out to experts and consultants who can perform assessment and advice on how to approach these vendors and select the right one for your business. 

Digital Marketing for E-commerce

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When you think of adding e-commerce as your new sales channel then Marketing becomes very important to attract customers and make your platform successful.

While marketing is important for any kind of business but there is a marked difference between when you have your brick and mortar shop and moving to e-commerce

Digital Marketing is different than the traditional form of Marketing. I have written a full article on Digital marketing for further rereading

Product Shipment

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Shorter shipment time has a great impact on customer satisfaction and that’s where Amazon kind of company excels by shipping products in 2 days with Prime membership and with zero shipment cost.

If the shipment time increases then there are chances of order cancellation and also customer churning as customers move to other e-commerce stores for lesser shipping time.

Shipping is an important aspect and you need to do a proper analysis and planning for this depending on various factors such as the area of business, type of Proust, size and weight of products.

Depending upon the size and volume of shipment you need to decide to do it by yourself or outsource. Have to tie up with reliable Logistics companies for shipment

If you are using other modes of e-commerce such as Drop Shipping (DS) or Fulfilment by Amazon (FBA) then shipping becomes easier but need to ensure the proper process is set up for Drop Shipper and Amazon to ship your products. 

Secured Payment

There are higher percentages of buyers abandoning the cart or buying process at this step due to the trustworthiness of e-commerce companies. 

If you are building your own ecommerce platform then it take big effort to create a secure payment transaction process and functionality

But when you use the e-commerce platforms mentioned above then they are already interested in a secure payment process with various options such as credit cards, amazon pay, PayPal etc.

Returns & Refunds

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Contrary to traditional commerce, e-commerce has a higher rate of returns and refunds. The reason ns buyers are only seeing the products in a digital medium and not able to touch or feel before bing.

Let this not distract your potential customers to shop at your e-commerce site. For this, you have to come up with a proper return and refund policy.

This has to be hassle-free and foolproof else you will end of losing a lot of money for wrong retina and refunds

First of all, you need to focus on the root to reduce the returns that are giving the best experience to the customer to evaluate the product and provide enough information for the customer to review, compare and select.

In that case, the returns will be less but in proper cases, you should return the product quickly and either replace or refund.

For further reading please visit below sites

Customer Service

Great customer service is very effective to not only retain existing customers but acquire new customers.

With various advancements in this space like chatbots, smart agents, conversational experience, natural language processing etc, customer service can be improved vastly.

The more we treat the customer better the more we get business from them. A great customer service strategy is very essential for every e-commerce business.

Customer Insights

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One of the great aspects of e-commerce is to gather customer insights and analyse to increase your sales and loyalty base.

The more you gather customer information of course with the consent and then use Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) to do proper segmentation and campaigning and make your sales pitch more targeted you will have better success in selling you goods.

There are various freeware and freemium software available in the market to do such analytics. Please read this for more information.

Finally

Pandemic or post-pandemic, e-commerce is here to stay and grow. most of the business has to adopt it and utilise it to their benefit to maximize sales and grow business. The question is how quickly a business adopts it.

Sid

IT Consultant | Blogger

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