With e-commerce on the rise, many businesses see the Internet as an opportunity for increased profits and growth. Online stores can potentially reach a wider pool of customers and serve as a significant source of revenue.
However, before you rush to set up an online store, you need to ask yourself if you're prepared for the challenges. The following are six ways to know if you're ready to start your e-commerce website.
1) You can guarantee your customers strong cyber security
Tech.Co recently published a must-read article on e-commerce security essentials. These include using SSL certificates and providing employees with cyber security training, so that they're less likely to expose your system to malware or compromise sensitive data.
2) You can afford to set up and maintain your e-commerce site
Although building an e-commerce site doesn't have to put a huge dent in your budget, you still have to set aside money for the initial website development and for its continued maintenance and necessary updates. If you invest too little in your e-commerce site, it will look unprofessional and wind up frustrating your customers with poor functionality.
Your site needs to include clear, beautiful images and compelling product descriptions. The shopping system you set up must work reliably and allow customers to change their orders flexibly. You have to check that your website doesn't load too slowly (as many people won't even wait a few seconds before moving on). Your site's appearance and performance should remain strong across different devices, including smartphones. These are all important considerations for running your site.
3) You have a fairly good idea of what you're getting into
Even though you can never predict with complete certainty how your online business will operate and develop, you should at least familiarise yourself with the opportunities and challenges. Are you at least a little bit savvy about the Internet, or work with people who know what they're doing online? Have you considered the similarities and differences between handling online commerce and running an off-line store?
4) You're prepared to meet the demands of online sales
With your e-commerce website, you can potentially reach many more customers, some of them local and others from outside your geographic region. How will you meet rapidly growing demands for your products and services? Do you have the appropriate facilities for manufacturing and/or storing your products, and the means to ship them reliably to a variety of locations? How will you keep track of orders, handle returns, and deal with items that are lost or damaged?
5) Your current customers want you to be online
Even if you already have a successful store location off-line, you may hear customers request more of an online presence from you. Maybe they want the convenience of ordering your products off a website at any time. Denying them the opportunity could cost you their business or make your competitors look more attractive in comparison.
6) You can manage customer relations online
An e-commerce website can give you rich data about customer queries, purchase history, and feedback. With the right software, you can strengthen relationships with customers online by personalising your interactions with them, responding to their preferences, and letting them know about products they'll likely need.
Other issues concerning customers are the negative online reviews that you'll need to handle professionally and the suspicious or outright fraudulent behaviour that you'll sometimes have to deal with. Launching an e-commerce platform demands that you prepare yourself for a variety of interactions with customers you'll never lay eyes on. High-quality customer service and software tools will help you successfully manage this aspect of your business.
Do you think you're ready to build an online store? Don't hesitate to contact us to further discuss your e-commerce ideas. We can help you prepare for the demands of running a successful business online.