Weighing the Benefits of Branching Into Digital Commerce
We live in an increasingly electronic world—which we knew anyway, but the pandemic keenly highlighted the situation. As brick-and-mortar establishments closed their doors, albeit temporarily, shoppers increasingly turned to online retailers, even for their most basic essentials. If you’re still on the fence about opening your own online shop, let’s take a closer look at the benefits you could miss out on, as well as how to best get started.
The Abundant Benefits
You might be thinking there isn’t any point in opening an online shop if your faithful customers return once life gets back into full swing. However, there is much more to gain than simply having a go-to when quarantine restrictions shut your doors. On top of offering your customers a place to shop when you’re closed up—for weeks or just for overnight each night—a web-based shopping experience requires minimal overhead expense. You might spend a few hundred bucks a month for hosting, but once you get past the startup costs, it’s a matter of whether you engage freelancers, a firm, or hire in-house help to maintain things—the latter being the most costly.
DIY or Pro-Built Website?
Many eCommerce newcomers elect to build their own websites in order to stretch their dollars. This is an economical and reasonable solution for giving your business a basis for growth, typically employing easy-to-use templates in a drag-and-drop approach. The one downside is that these simple solutions often tend to follow a pattern, which can be confining if they don’t have the flexibility to meet your criteria.
Hiring a web designer is your other option. As Upland Software explains, these professionals know how to use computer code to build a product that meets your ideals, and can often create a website you can tweak yourself to some degree after the fact.
Try to establish a good idea of what you want before diving in. Take a look at websites you particularly like using, think about the content they offer and what makes their content appealing and useful. Also examine what your competitors are doing. What can you offer that they don’t, and what seems to be working on their websites, and what isn’t? Let the answers to your questions shape your own website.
At this point, you should consider your marketing options. While that might feel like putting the cart before the horse, the construction of the website is intertwined with how you will market it. Remember, building website traffic is the key to ensuring your new eCommerce business takes off, so think carefully about what sort of content you intend to offer. For instance blogs, podcasts, video channels and so forth can be broadcast not only from your website but also through social media platforms, and the cost is minimal.
With a clearer image of what you will offer on your own website, you’ll have a better guide to frame up the end product. From this point, you can either start building, or view portfolios to whittle down your list of candidates, perform interviews, and consider giving hirees small projects as a test drive before making your final decision.
Expand With an App
Once you have your eCommerce website ideas hammered out, consider adding a mobile app to the picture. An online presence is loaded with benefits, but as AllBusiness points out, a mobile app takes those perks up a notch. You can engage your customers in real-time, and since feedback is direct, you can adjust your marketing for a clearer, more finely-tuned message. The end result is better outreach, more interaction, and ultimately a more faithful audience.
Finding someone for the job is easy. You can use job boards like Upwork to sort out who the best app developers are based on the experience and feedback candidates have. When you find “the one,” that professional can help you hone in on your target audience with an efficient, well-designed app that takes your brand straight into your customers’ hands—via their phone.
An online shop is loaded with benefits. Think about whether you’ll DIY a site or hire it done and what the website will offer, and dive in. It’s a smart way to expand your business and ensure you’re keeping up with the times.
Image: courtesy of Reshot