Coming from aggregated research by ‘experts’ in the field, it has been said, that an anticipated groundbreaking 4 trillion USD will be sold in eCommerce sales this year. Would it be wrong to state that with certainty, eCommerce might be the future? Highly likely.
If you're not selling online, well, if the reasons aren’t already obvious enough…
Without question, the COVID-19 pandemic has enormously changed the process of buying and selling products. Because of the global lockdown, Brick-and-mortar stores have dwindled, driving them almost close to obsolete. Nowadays, one has to ask the question, ‘what’s the one COVID-proof solution’?
The answer, simply put, is to digitise the set store and start selling products online. Simples. But don't be fooled, the initial excitement may be easy, but running an eCommerce business is extremely demanding.
Before jumping too far ahead, we always need to factor the obvious motivations before diving head first and committing to something:
- The internet sky has no limit: serving customers on a global scale, unreachable by any brick-and-mortar store.
- Be frugal: no rent to pay (you can be a teenager all over again) or even run a warehouse. All you need is a website and an eCommerce platform.
- Stretch out your offer: no stress on stocking/replenishing inventory. Thank god for modern day outsourcing solutions, sell as many products as your heart desires.
- Manage numerous online stores: disadvantages: your time and budget will be hindered.
- The internet, a pandemic-proof environment: no concern to shut down your store incase of another attack of COVID-19.
Digitising your store is easier said than done, beyond a doubt! But don’t concede. It’s time to digress and find out how to make this process up-front and well planned as humanly possible.
First things first, time to ask that question, what's your net worth? At this stage, you're most probably not a sister of ASOS, but this should not hinder your approach and drive. Always remember at some point in the journey, everyone has had to have ‘started from the bottom and now we’re here’. From counting petty cash to success stories...
More importantly, it’s all about knowing how much you can invest. From there, it all becomes a lot clearer. You’ll be able to select feasible services and products within your set budget:
- Online Presence/Marketing: build a website with an eCommerce platform
- Product descriptions and pictures: high quality professional images are required
- Running or outsourcing a warehouse: eCommerce fulfilment
- Customer service consultants: easy to do yourself when launching to save some cash.
‘How much should I invest’, another common question that arises for most start ups. Believe it or not, how much money you invest into your business is also very much dependent on where you are situated on the globe. You're going to need to do your own research, for selfish reasons of course, to decipher your markets buying psychology.
Market-king: word on the street
If you want people to be conversing about you, marketing is your principle expense. Without it, customers won’t know who you are. With a well-oiled marketing campaign, expect to start reeling in capital from the get go.
So to answer your quietly minded questions: there is no right or wrong answer whether you should invest in marketing. It solely depends on the need, every company is different, ‘there’s no one size that fits all’.
Open for debate, but it has been said that Experts agree that you should secure at least 7% of your gross revenue on sales/marketing each month. Does that spark some attention..
Made to measure or Bespoke platform?
Not too indifferent to buying a suit perhaps? When building your online store, you are offered with either; buy ready-made customisable eCommerce platform or to build one entirely from scratch. The choice is yours!
At the beginning of your campaign, at a time where you would want to invest more money in advertising in preference to the platform, the ready made option is assuredly cheaper and recommended by specialists. A move more commonly seen with larger stores with uncommon requirements and rulebooks. Word on the street, ready-made platforms can cause issues with SEO so…
It’s recommended to find out what platforms are achievable in your country and what marketing/SEO possibilities they are exploiting. This is a good time to dig deeper and do some research around other users' opinions and reviews. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, as they say ‘there is no such thing as a stupid question’. Put in some ground work and unearth some eCommerce scholars who can chaperone you through the integral process.
We’ve evolved from simple, monotonous mouse scrolling websites, with ‘buy now’ buttons, to offering multiple services such as; bundles, express delivery or free returns.
We must take into account and be mindful of the questions centred around the planning and developing of the online store. Crucial questions underlining the below points:
- Strategic Marketing
- The performance of marketing
- Multichannel marketing campaigns
- CX (Customer Experience)
- Supply chain modification
- Logistics & sourcing
With us 20th century folk, it's a harsh truth that we don’t read enough and it’s proven, that the more you read, the smarter you’ll be! The chance to significantly broaden your knowledge, mastering your decision process to further master the start of your journey to a success story, why not?
It’s easy to listen un-intendedly to those companies who sell solutions, with common ear-shots; ‘it’s the perfect fit’ and the ‘most efficient solution’ for your store. Do your own research, develop your knowledge on authentically neutral sources.
Has this potentially spurred a new found desire to read? In any case, here's a well rounded article to sum up all the above.
Back in the olden days, customers simply entered the store, purchased a product, and went home. Presently, as we all know, that process has changed. When running an online store, you’re responsible for packing orders and shipping them to customers. This can be daunting at first of course. A large volume of orders, waiting patiently to be shipped..
Fear not, there are at least four different options you can choose from:
In-house shipping, known to be the most time consuming, but probably the most straightforward and cheapest. You would be doing all the logistics-related activities on your lonesome self. You’d be in charge of:
- Running your own warehouse
- managing the contracts with the courier companies
- responsible for packing products and shipping them to customers.
This option bodes a natural approach, especially for people who are just starting their adventure with business. As your business proceeds to grow, you should think of the other three precedents:
Taking the plunge
With drop-shipping, your store is the intermediary. Customers place orders online and the distributor/manufacturer implements all logistical issues. With respect to cost, it’s rather convenient. Even so, it’s determined by the distributor/manufacturer’s time and resources, so, should they not have ‘a’ product in stock, it disallows you from sending anything to the customer.
Plying the anchor
Cross-docking: the main objective, is to collect products from many different suppliers and deliver them to customers. Again, a middleman kind of situation. Products from the supplier are sent to a customer/retail chain with intangible handling or repository time. Once purchase is complete, goods land in your warehouse, picked, packed and delivered to el buyer.
The execution scheme
Order fulfilment: a logistics centre who holds your goods in their warehouse, picks and packs and manages returns, it all happens in one place. I mean, we are biased, but, why have it any other way..
Not shy of options as you can see, but as said previously, your company, your process. Drop shipping does feel most appealing, you could use the easy option, but would it be as fulfilling… 🤷🏽♂️