We’ve long known that consumers are increasingly turning to the Internet to buy their products and services. Those companies unable to sell online are losing customers who are happy to jump ship to competitors who can provide a more convenient retail experience.
With business-to-business sales now being engulfed by the e-commerce revolution too, it seems clear that businesses that are unable to transact in this way are missing out in a big way. Indeed, with recent projections that B2B e-commerce sales are expected to hit the $1 trillion mark by 2020, you have to ask whether businesses can afford not to be incorporating e-commerce technology into their sales models.
Of course, this has not always been easy or cost effective for small businesses whose budgets for infrastructure investment tend to be relatively modest. However, in recent years the explosion of technology has made access to simple, powerful and easy to implement e-commerce solutions much more affordable for small businesses.
There is so much choice available to businesses looking for their first e-commerce platform that it is important you know which features you need now and which ones will allow for growth as your business develops.
E-commerce features for the here and now
Being able to manage the back-end of online sales is the most fundamental capability of any e-commerce platform and lets you maximise what resources you have to achieve the farthest reach with customers. You should ensure that any potential e-commerce solution can deliver ongoing testing as your company, product catalogue, and customer base grows and evolves.
It should be capable of integrating seamlessly with your other business critical services. Many platforms work with payment providers such as PayPal, as well as a variety of shipping services. You should also think about how well the platform integrates with the systems that drive your marketing strategies.
Due to the increasingly widespread use of mobile devices by customers when browsing and purchasing online, it’s also important that your e-commerce platform supports mobile commerce from the outset.
Allow for e-commerce growth
With your e-commerce platform up and running, you need to be able to quickly customise it to boost sales revenue. This might be in the form of a targeted campaign that promotes specific products to a particular demographic at a particular time of year.
You should be able to easily integrate marketing, sales and site design elements together so that you can present your product or service offerings in a way that makes it as easy as possible for your customers to buy from you.
International e-commerce sales are something that should also be on your roadmap. While it might not be an immediate priority for many small businesses, it is a good idea to research whether the e-commerce platforms on your shortlist can handle the different aspects of selling overseas. Most platforms have built-in functionality that support payment processes in their country of origin but they may not include all the choices available for doing business in other countries, which could stifle your attempts to grow in the future.
Ecom Global Network Ltd is an organisation that supports and facilitates global e-commerce among its members. Find out about the benefits of joining and to see how we can help you maximise your e-commerce potential here.