Thinking of setting up an ecommerce business?

Ecommerce has changed the way many businesses operate today. Consumers can now purchase almost anything online whenever they like. With the growing demand for online purchasing, more and more businesses are making the move online.

What is ecommerce?

Ecommerce, or electronic commerce, is simply the buying and selling of products and services online, often via a website.

What are the benefits of ecommerce for your small businesses?

Ecommerce provides a large range of benefits for businesses that are otherwise unavailable in a standard bricks and mortar store, some of these are:

1. Ability to expand into new markets – selling online provides your business with the opportunity to expand your market, even expanding globally.

2. Reducing expenses - selling online is a great way to keep your costs down, as there is no physical store to rent or increased number of staff to pay.

3. Providing convenience to your customers while increasing sales – your business is open 24 hours a day 7 days a week, providing consumers with the ability to buy a product or service whenever it suits them from the comfort of their home. This can increase the number of orders you could potentially receive rather than if you were just a 9-5 physical store.

4. Increasing customer engagement – selling online allows you to keep an eye on your customers buying habits and interests. This provides a chance for you to tailor your products or services to suit your customer requirements, improving your relationship with them and likely increasing sales.

How does the online shopping process work?

Online customer transactions follow a process that is very much like shopping at a physical store:

1. Enter an online store.

2. Browse through the products or services on offer.

3. Select the items that you want to purchase.

4. Place these items in a (virtual) shopping cart.

5. Proceed to the ‘checkout’.

6. Arrange for the delivery of the products or services.

7. Pay for the purchases with the preferred (electronic) payment method.

Tips on how to ensure your ecommerce system looks after your business and your customers?

There are a number of things that you can do to try to create the best experience for you and your customers.

Try to make the entire process of online shopping as hassle-free as possible. The more straightforward the experience, the more likely users are to place an order with you – and hopefully come back again.

Here are a few things to consider:

1. provide detailed information about delivery options

2. allow users to make purchases easily - being able to buy in two clicks is ideal

3. don’t collect more personal information than you need

4. provide a site search feature.

Having trouble deciding what e-commerce features to have on your website?

If you are having trouble deciding what e-commerce features to have on your website, it could be helpful to go to an existing online store and go through the process of buying something. This could help you build up an idea of the features that are important to you when shopping online.

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