What Does It Take to Run an E-commerce Business?
E-commerce is picking up steam, both as an add-on to traditional brick-and-mortar stores and as a way to replace in-store sales. Although it may seem like almost every adult you know shops online regularly, ecommerce actually accounted for less than 13 percent of sales in 2017. Predictions from Forrester put ecommerce on track to make up 17 percent of total sales by 2022. Although brick-and-mortar retail still accounts for a majority of transactions, online sales are growing at a significantly faster rate than offline sales.
So, what does it take to run an ecommerce business?
Shopify defines ecommerce simply as “commercial transactions conducted electronically.” This implies you’ll need a way to conduct these transactions first and foremost, including a website and a way for customers to pay. But there are auxiliary functions you’ll need to fulfill as an online merchant, too.
Keep reading to learn more.
This will determine the appearance of your store and the efficacy of your back-end processes. It is truly the basis for your entire shop, so choose carefully. The good news is nowadays, you don’t need extensive coding and design experience to operate a functional and appealing store. As Forbes outlines, one ecommerce entrepreneur with “limited funds and zero technical ability” was able to set up a store through Shopify to sell her line of license plates for walkers and scooters.
Here are some important considerations as you’re comparing ecommerce platform options:
- Storefront appearance: Can you customize the design and layout of your storefront to your liking?
- Cybersecurity: Does your chosen platform support secure payments and adhere to PCI compliance standards?
- Customization: Does your platform allow you to quickly and simply create landing pages and post content?
- Scalability: Can your platform grow with your business, handling increasing site traffic and transactions at any given time?
The paramount function of your store hinges on its ability to accept payments from customers. Your payment gateway will be central to your user experience. Integrating gateways like Stripe, PayPal and more with your platform—in addition to debit and credit card options—provides customer with flexible options. This increases the chances they’ll complete their transaction rather than abandon their shopping cart pre-checkout.
Ecommerce merchants are also responsible for keeping customers’ personal and financial information safe. A data breach will only diminish your credibility and cost your company.
Your business needs a system for getting products to customers’ doorsteps. This may entail drop-shipping, meaning your store takes orders but the products ship directly from the manufacturer. This alleviates the need for you to stock inventory. The flip side is you have less control over the order fulfillment process, so be certain you can trust your drop-shipper before making this your go-to method.
Alternately, your company can handle its own warehousing, packaging and mailing. Just make sure you can keep up with customer order volume and get your products to buyers in one piece in a cost-effective fashion.
You’ll also need a way to communicate with customers before and after buying. Buyers expect increasingly personalized, speedy responses to questions and comments. Consider utilizing social media messaging and live chat in addition to more traditional channels like email.
What does it take to run an ecommerce business? Start with a platform, a secure way to collect payments, a plan for fulfilling orders and a way for customers to reach you.