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E-commerce Websites Demystified – Tips For Your Online Selling Success

It’s no revelation that e-commerce is a dominant factor in the global economy, especially for businesses that sell all or even a segment of their products and services online. If there is any doubt about the pervasiveness, or just to drill down on the current state of the e-commerce prowess in our economy, check out some interesting statistics:

  • E-commerce sales made up around 10% of total U.S. retail sales in the third quarter of 2018, reported by the U.S. Census Bureau.
  • 69% of Americans say they’ve purchased an item online, reported by NPR. Also, 25% of these Americans say they make a purchase at least monthly.
  • 44% of online shoppers start with Amazon when beginning the online shopping process, according to the same report from NPR.

Physical, brick and mortar retail sales still reign as the top channel in most cases, but trends toward the opposite tell a different story. If online selling is the core of your current revenue or on your dashboard for the future, following is a guide to assist you in your online selling goals and decision-making process.

Tips For Creating An Online Sales Strategy For Your Business

Top Third-party e-commerce platforms and their pros/cons – There are seemingly countless third-party e-commerce platforms for businesses who sell online to choose from. We won’t outline them all here, but there are some heavy hitters that dominate e-commerce – let’s drill down on them.

Third-party Marketplaces – Of course, Amazon is the behemoth third-party marketplace that dominates the space, but defining whether this is the correct place for your online product is a nuanced effort that is impacted by many details. Whether you choose Amazon, eBay, Etsy, Google Shopping or any other third-party shopping marketplace depends on a few universal criteria, such as:

  • You – Your product, your prospective customers, your location, your budget – all of the factors that make your business unique come into play when choosing where your online selling efforts will be most successful.
  • Fees – While Amazon is top dog, that spot comes with a price tag that may (or may not) work within your budget and your profit margins. Weighing out the impact of the fees associated with third-party marketplaces is an integral starting point. For example, some marketplaces require up-front fees or membership fees and others only charge upon the close of a sale. 
  • Marketing – While the audiences of the Amazon, Facebook and Google are enormous, there are some constraints that have to be weighed. Understanding whether the customer you capture is actually yours or the marketplace’s is an important factor to consider.  

Third-party Online Store Builders – Another option to ponder as you create your online sales roadmap is the third-party online store. Shopify, Wix, SquareSpace, Weebly and many others make up the landscape of choices for third-party online store builders. Let’s drill down on the basics and consideration factors to help in your thought process.

  • Multi-channel Integration – Are you selling online on multiple channels as well as offline? Most e-commerce business owners would view that as a rudimentary question because, of course they are! However, it’s very common to lack the integration across these channels that offers true insights into business performance, data that can optimize selling efforts as well as productivity benefits that save time and money.
  • Payment Options – Your third-party store builder may or may not integrate with the methods of payment that you want to offer your customers. You’ll want to take a long view here, considering payment options that you want to add in the future, so your storefront solution can scale as your business does the same.
  • Marketing Features – SEO, customer experience (UX), user data security, abandoned shopping cart and other factors that are on your marketing strategy punch list should also be considered as you make the choice of online selling portals. Some platforms offer more customization or include add-on features that can support your KPIs.

Proprietary Online Sales Websites – Another option to support your online selling plan is to build your own website. The advantages of creating a proprietary online selling website can be equally as powerful as the disadvantages. Let’s weigh a few of the considerations:

  • Can your budget withstand the initial outlay? Creating a custom website can be costly, depending on your requirements. Unless you have the talent to do it yourself or keep it inhouse, the initial outlay may be too much for your budget.
  • Do you have the tech to support your site? Building a proprietary website for your online selling efforts offers complete control and customization options but can require a high level of tech support after the fact. You’ll want to assess whether you (and your budget) can handle this need inhouse or outsourced.
  • Will you optimize the potential? Whether the costs of your proprietary website are in range or not, it still may not make sense. There is no reason to invest in more website than your online selling requirements warrant.

The e-commerce industry in the United States alone clocked in at a value of $500 billion in 2018, and the growth trending up. In fact, it’s one of the fastest-growing areas of the economy – making these online selling considerations pressing for those who want to stay competitive. Whatever online selling platform or combination of platforms is determined best for your business, you don’t have to navigate the roadmap alone. Agile Planners helps e-commerce businesses optimize their online selling tools to help them get the most bang for their buck. Here’s how we can support your online selling efforts:

  • Eliminating Silos – Our tech expertise can get your tech tools talking to one another to help you gain true insight into your business results, understand your marketing and sales process better as well as increase productivity.
  • Streamlining Processes – Agile Planners can take the much-needed 360-degree view of your operations and help you streamline your processes to get you working smarter, not harder.
  • Training for Your Team – Tap a team of experts to come in and train your team about integrating your tech, a one-time exercise that will set you up for long-term success.
  • Tackling To-do Lists – Agile Planners can also take on your accounting and bookkeeping tasks, freeing your team up for other duties and ensuring that your numbers are always up-to-date and accurate.

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