ECommerce Right for Our Business?
Is ECommerce Right for Our Business?
If your business features products or services for sale, undoubtedly
the topic of eCommerce has come up. What is eCommerce? Literally
defined as “the conduct of financial transactions by electronic
means,” it refers to purchases made over the Internet.
There are popular slang terms such as ebusiness, click and mortar,
dotcom, cyber-mall and multiple spellings (eCommerce, e-commerce,
E-Commerce), but they are all basically the same thing. Don’t
let the different phrases confuse you, it all comes back to the
same principle: selling online.
So how do you know if selling online will be beneficial for your
business? There are a few basic questions that can help you with
this decision. First and foremost, can you afford to develop a professional
eCommerce storefront on your Web site? You’ve heard the phrase
“if you can’t do it right, it’s not worth doing
at all”. This is especially true in regards to eCommerce because
people will not purchase from your Web site if it looks amateur
and is poorly done.
Custom developed eCommerce sites can cost tens of thousands of
dollars, but pre-built shopping cart solutions such as WebSolutions’
Marketplace can provide your business with a professional eCommerce
storefront for a fraction of the cost.
Another benefit of a program like this is whereas a Yahoo or eBay
store may be less expensive to get going, it’s going to be
less customizable, and as your business grows, you’ll outgrow
the site and need to start over again. An option like the Marketplace
provides a great starting place with unlimited building potential
After the cost issue is addressed, you need to evaluate the potential
of selling your product or service online. Are any of your competitors
selling online? If not, have a brainstorming session and try to
think of any logical reasons why they aren’t. Could it be
that they tried and failed or is it that they just haven’t
thought about selling online yet? One key to remember is that once
you make the decision to sell online, your product and pricing is
now available 24/7 to anyone that stumbles upon your site.
After evaluating your competitor’s Web sites, you need to
look at your product line and determine your target audience. Who
buys from your now? Are you selling to businesses or individuals?
If the answer is businesses, are they generally companies that are
active on the Internet or businesses that don’t rely on the
Web as much (such as mechanics, restaurants, etc.).
If the answer is individuals, what demographic(s) are you advertising
your products or services to? You need to be sure that the people
you want purchasing your product have access to the Internet and
are willing to shop online. Few businesses realize that over 80%
of the world’s Internet access speed is still dial-up, so
loading huge catalogs, Flash files, and large graphics will deter
a prospect from purchasing.
Finally, you need to determine how you can make your business stand
out from all the rest. If you’re selling copier supplies,
why is someone going to come to your site versus the other millions
of copier supply Web sites? Are you going to sell based on price,
location, quantity, quality of service?
Are you going to provide online shipment tracking, account management,
wish lists, real-time credit card authorization and processing,
and other advanced eCommerce applications to make your site more
professional? These are all issues that need to be addressed before
you start designing your first product page.
Taking the next step of selling online is a big decision for your
business and isn’t to be taken lightly. There is significant
cost and risk involved, but there is also significant reward waiting
to be had. Be sure to consult with your Web developer to find out
which options are available to you and do your research ahead of
time. Not every eCommerce site is profitable, but if you prepare,
there’s no reason yours can’t be.
About the Author
WebSolutions is a professional
Web site design, development, and hosting company based near Chicago.
Their expertise in eCommerce has been highlighted in print and television
and their custom developed solutions and pre-built shopping cart
application (The Marketplace) has been successful for businesses
nationwide. Jon Kee handles all sales and marketing related activities
for WebSolutions and can be reached by phone at 630.375.6833 or
email @ firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit us online: http://www.wsol.com