22 Jul Thinking of Taking Your Business Online?
The world has gone digital, and that includes shopping. From international online shopping platforms like Amazon to small businesses, consumers are increasingly looking for more ways to purchase items from their favorite brands online, especially for businesses with few to no brick-and-mortar locations. Selling your products online is known as e-commerce, and your business may be missing out on great revenue if you don’t yet have an e-commerce platform.
Now, with the impact of COVID-19 on large and small businesses alike, it’s more important than ever to take a forward step into the realm of e-commerce. UK businesses can help to reverse revenue loss during these times by implementing a smart e-commerce strategy.
In order to do this, let’s discuss the recent data of online shopping, how to transition to an e-commerce solution, and the importance of security in e-commerce.
Digital Buying Is On the Rise
It’s no surprise that with consumers staying at home due to COVID-19 health concerns and lockdowns, digital buying has recently seen a large uptick — and UK e-commerce data from eMarketer predicts the trend to continue long after lockdowns have subsided.
Lockdowns on brick-and-mortar retail stores in the UK began on March 23, lasting until June 15. During this time, consumers flocked to online shopping via retail e-commerce options from their favorite brands and stores. Retail e-commerce is expected to continue its spike in proportion to total retail sales for the remainder of 2020 and into the following years.
Physical retail shopping, while expected to gradually increase with health precautions, is not expected to ever quite reach previous “normal” levels again. Mobile buying patterns have not significantly changed over this period of time, but it is expected that mobile e-commerce will account for 20% of total retail sales by 2024. Finally, retail e-commerce sales are predicted to account for 27.5% of total UK retail sales in 2020 (an increase from 21.8% in 2019) and eventually increasing to 32.1% of total retail sales by 2024.
With this rapid increase in online shopping, it’s clear that businesses need to adapt e-commerce strategies in order to stay ahead of the market and competition.
How to Transition to Your E-Commerce Solution
Here’s another statistic for you: there will be over 2 billion online shoppers in 2020. Talk about a great opportunity to reach more customers! So, how can your business transition to online retail? The answer is making effective use of the e-commerce tools available to you.
Here are six ways to optimize your transition to the world of e-commerce:
1. Create a modern website
A website is the home base for your business online and where all web traffic should ultimately direct. Sure, you can sell through online shopping platforms like Amazon, but your website is where most customers will be finding your brand. Therefore, this is where you’ll want to focus on and improve your sales. Your website needs to make use of user experience design, be easy to navigate, effectively present the information customers need to know about your business and your products, and work great on mobile devices. For an e-commerce website you can rely on, you’ll want to choose a reputable web hosting company, ideally with an included e-commerce website building option. eZnet Stores is one such e-commerce hosting option!
2. Implement shopping cart software
The next step after creating or updating your website will be to ensure that customers are able to save and purchase items from your website via shopping cart software. But be careful! Not all shopping cart software services are alike. You’ll need to choose one that both fits your needs and is easy for your customers to use. A confusing or unnecessarily complicated checkout process on your website can lead to customers changing their mind about purchases.
3. Use inventory management software
Customers buying products online is not the same as in-store. You might not actually know how much of a product you have left based on sight alone when it comes to online shopping. An inventory management software will help you instantly keep track of what products have already been purchased and which ones you will need to restock. Inventory management systems can also easily merge with your website and e-commerce system for better tracking and reporting.
4. Track data with customer relationship management tools
Customer relationship management (CRM) tools and software will help keep your business operations, sales reports and customer interactions on track. A secure CRM will be able to store customer data, which can be used to form future decisions about your business and marketing. eZnet CRM, for example, is a secure cloud-based customer relationship management solution that can be customized to the unique needs of your business.
5. Market your business on social media
Your online presence may start with your website, but having a website alone generally isn’t enough to attract customers there to make purchases. What you’ll need for getting the word out about your business is social media marketing. Not only can you run ads for your business and products on social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram, but you can also grow a community of followers around your brand. To find success with selling your business on social media, however, you will need to know the ins and outs of content marketing along with how to use social media management tools to track your success.
6. Start split testing
Split testing, also known as A/B testing, is a way to compare the effectiveness of two or more different versions of your website — such as landing pages, or marketing materials, such as social media ads. Testing which versions perform better with your audience in terms of reach, click-through rate, conversions, etc., will inform you of what your audience responds best to, which can then help you to continue improving your online e-commerce presence.
An E-Commerce Solution Needs to Be Secure
Security is a crucial element of e-commerce. When customers shop on your website, they input personal details such as their name, address and payment information during the checkout process. Without proper security measures in place, this customer data is at great risk for theft from cybercriminals.
Besides financial implications, a data breach can greatly harm the reputation of your business. Your loyal customers will stop buying from your site if they’ve had a bad experience or if they’ve heard of other customers whose personal data has been compromised due to a lack of security on your e-commerce website.
The bottom line is that your e-commerce solution needs to be secure.
While some e-commerce businesses focus locally in a specific region, others may take full advantage of the global nature of online shopping and selling. Customers in both developed and developing countries are shopping online more frequently, although the data of many customers in many developing countries may be at greater risk. According to the UNCTAD eTrade Readiness Assessments gathered in 27 least-developed countries, many gaps and barriers in various policy areas such as ICT infrastructure, payment solutions, and skills and legal frameworks impede the growth of e-commerce. This is yet another reason why it’s crucial to ensure your e-commerce website, hosting, checkout processes, customer data and more are all protected with up-to-date security and encryption methods.
To boost trust among online consumers, it is crucial to strengthen the protection of users and to strengthen cybersecurity infrastructure.
Starting Your UK E-Commerce Business
Now, do you feel ready to take your business online with e-commerce? Times may be rocky right now for retail businesses, but e-commerce solutions provide a light at the end of the tunnel for keeping up sales, revenue and brand awareness. Virtual Stacks Systems UK offers eZnet Stores as a secure, flexible and easy-to-use e-commerce platform, compatible with businesses of all industries and sizes. eZnet CRM, on the other hand, can improve your customer relationship management data. More than just e-commerce solutions, we also provide expert marketing services that can help your business reach more customers online, including social media marketing and pay-per-click advertising. If you’re ready to get started with taking your business online, contact us today!