One of the main advantages of the digital age is the ability to buy and sell online. Shoppers enjoy a comfortable shopping atmosphere while online retailers have access to a global marketplace. No wonder the share of e-commerce retail sales continues to grow.
Statistics reveal that e-commerce retail sales will total US$4.4 trillion worldwide by 2021. And yet, nearly a third of small businesses in America don’t have a website. Online retailers in less developed markets are missing out on even more opportunities.
The merging of business model and web development awareness is a challenge that keeps many retailers from entering the digital commerce arena and growing at the pace of recent technologies. My company has amassed a wealth of expertise in the field, and this article is the first in a series of articles discussing how to harness the power of online B2B and B2C solutions.
Transitioning your business offline to online
One of the easiest ways to grow a traditional business offline is to go online, especially if:
• the business model has proven itself;
• internal systems are already in place;
• the data used by the company can be analyzed to improve various priority factors.
Let’s start by defining the architectural approach to developing an e-commerce solution. Building an online presence for an offline store requires a solid plan to transition to a multi-channel model. This may involve either revamping the existing structure or adding staff to handle the various shipping and inventory management options, such as store pickup and inventory tracking.
Offline retailers going online should consider integrating ERP (enterprise resource planning) systems, which influence platform choice during the early stages of developing an e-commerce solution. Offline businesses like stores and restaurants can also consider using a web-based point of sale (POS) to keep customers happy and staff productive.
Consider the planned implementation of inventory management and synchronization of offline and online sales data while prioritizing your initial list of requirements. This list is fairly standard for online businesses, although the implementation methods are diverse and depend on the specific business niche and business.
Tip: The first step is to perform a thorough business analysis, choose the platform and technical basis of the e-commerce solution, and prioritize the implementation.
Redesign of your online store
The concept of redesign is tricky. Why should a company invest in an online store if it already has a solution in place? Why not upgrade and add functionality to the existing eCommerce solution? The answer lies in tracking user behavior.
Online store owners track several metrics that influence profits, including bounce rate, time spent, and cart abandonment. After analyzing user behavior and comparing current marketing ROI to revenue, store owners realize the need for front-end and back-end changes. When it comes to front-end design, users prefer easier navigation and more catalog items per page. It’s cheaper to keep up with design trends and retain customers by updating the look of your site, rather than sticking with an outdated, ineffective design.
On the back-end of the website, owners should assess whether the current system can display more categories, handle more orders, offer one-click shopping, support popular payment methods, ensure transaction security, etc If limitations exist, consider modifying the back-end platform and architecture.
This task is becoming more and more important, especially after the boom in the development of e-commerce that the market has experienced in recent years. Platforms are outdated, can’t comply with modern security standards, and prevent businesses from growing revenue. Redesign may also be necessitated by a new business model, such as moving to multi-channel, omni-channel or even B2B, which changes the architecture of the existing e-commerce solution.
Tip: start by setting priorities for the front-end and the back-end and define general business objectives, before deciding on the redesign of the online store.
Build your online store from scratch
Today’s technology allows us to drastically reduce the costs of launching an online business by using frameworks and other solutions that help deploy an idea quickly and cost-effectively. The keys to success when starting a business are:
• be accessible to customers;
• understand the end customer, and;
• speak the same language (share ideas, understand needs and provide a friendly solution).
The first task is facilitated by the Internet, but the others are more difficult. Being handy means unveiling a store that’s compatible with desktop, tablet, and mobile (at least), not to mention a clean user interface. Understanding the end customer means ensuring convenient payment and shipping methods, which ensures a smooth shopping experience and better loyalty.
Tip: Be on the customer’s side. Analyze their needs so you can solve common customer problems.
If your brand is embarking on one of these e-commerce development projects, remember the important decision factors discussed here and do a thorough analysis before making big changes.