e-Commmerce: trends, platforms, and best strategies

e-Commmerce: trends, platforms, and best strategies

The e-Commerce is an interesting business model for people who want to start their own business and have the advantages of working online.

Several researches show that more than half the Americans prefer to buy on the Internet rather than on brick and mortar business.

With this shift in consumer habits, e-Commerces become an excellent choice for people who wish to start their own business and, at the same time, have the flexibility that comes with the digital market.

But do you know what an e-Commerce is? Do you know how to create yours? Are you looking for ways to set you apart from other online shops?

Pay close attention to this text and take the opportunity to clear any questions you have on the subject!

Check it out:

Index
What is an e-Commerce?; The difference between the e-Commerce and the Marketplace; Types of e-Commerce; Advantages of having an e-Commerce; Trends to watch; Tips to boost the sales of your e-Commerce.

What is an e-Commerce?

The word e-Commerce is short for electronic commerce, which is basically all online commerce.

This kind of commerce gained straight in the last few years when consumers started realizing that the Internet is a safe environment to make purchases.

It’s important to notice that every e-Commerce is an online store but not every online store is an e-Commerce.

There are also other models of electronic commerces such as the marketplace. We’ll talk more about it in the next topic.

To make it clearer, an online store is only considered an e-Commerce when it sells products from a single company, such as Forever XXI, for example.

e-Commerce or marketplace?

Unlike the e-Commerce, the marketplace works like a virtual window for different companies. Which means, the products that are available there don’t all belong to the same store, they are only displayed on the same platform.

The marketplace intermediates the payment but is not responsible for the warranty or the delivery of the product.

For many entrepreneurs, this models works just fine since you don’t need to buy a domain and have other expenses that are a part of creating an e-Commerce, you just register your products on the platform of your choosing and start promoting them.

Another advantage of selling on a marketplace is that you use the authority the company already established in the market to attract buyers, which is far simpler than getting people to find your e-Commerce.

A person will find Ebay’s products much easier than your shop when searching for to buy shoes or purses, for example.

On the other hand, you have no autonomy to decide how your product will feature to your buyers.

Therefore, the marketplace can be the best choice for people who market common products because you avoid the competition and the work involved in the creation of your own domain while the e-Commerce has some advantages for people who have a niche product and want to reach a more segmented audience.

But nothing stops you from having a niche product and selling it on a marketplace.

Your online business model will depend on how much time and money you’re willing to invest.

Types of e-Commerce

There are several types of businesses for those who want to work with online sales, both for people who choose the e-Commerce and marketplace.

B2B (Business to Business)

B2B or Business to Business is applied to companies

B2B or Business to Business is used to companies that create e-Commerces to sell products to other companies. Usually, it is used to sell raw materials such as an auto parts shop.

B2C (Business to Consumer)

The B2C, on the other hand, is the model adopted by companies that sell to the end consumer, and represents most e-Commerces. Nike and Vans e-Commerces are both examples of B2C.

C2B (Consumer to Business)

C2B is an inversion of the traditional business model where the consumer puts her service available to companies. A freelancer platform such as Freelancer.com is based on this kind of relationship.

C2C (Consumer to Consumer)

And, finally, the C2C which comprises relationships between buyers, common on forums and marketplaces such as eBay, Alibaba, and Etsy.

Advantages of having an e-Commerce

Now, we’ll show you some of the advantages of creating your own online shop to sell your products.     

Flexible working hours

As we mentioned at the beginning of the text, the e-Commerce represents the perfect balance between having your own business and having more available time since you can create your online shop in the comfort of your home, avoid the commute traffic and all the troubles that are most common to people who own a brick and mortar business.

Autonomy

When you create an e-Commerce, you’re free to decide the layout that best fits your product and the interests of your target audience besides not needing to pay up commissions for a third party.

Low investment-cost   

The advantage of having an online business is that you don’t need to worry about overhead expenses and payroll.

At first, you’ll only need to buy a domain and hire a server host. The good news is that both have affordable annual plans and you’ll pay around  US$30.00 to get started.

There are also several ready to use templates for your shop available online, which means you won’t incur in expenses with coding and design, as long as you choose the right tool!

Scalable sales

To make a sale at a physical store, you need time to approach a person, follow her while she assesses the products, introduces their advantages and only then make the payment. However, on the physical store, the purchase process is more dynamic and you can make several sales from the same ad and even at the same time.

For physical products, the more sales you want to make, the more you’ll need to invest in stock. However, if you decide to market digital products, that item can generate a return as long as it is available for access.

Disadvantages in having an e-Commerce

Just like any other business, having an e-Commerce also has its disadvantages, especially when we’re talking about physical products. It’s important that you put in the balance to know if the pros outweigh the cons or if you’d better look for other business models.

Stock

Having a stock that meets your buyers’ demands is one of the main problems of an e-Commerce. That happens for two reasons: you still don’t know which product will have a better acceptance in the market and it is quite likely that you won’t have the room in your house to store all of it.

Don’t worry, there are some options to go around this problem. First, you can sell goods on consignment, which means you showcase other people’s products on your shop in exchange for a commission for each sale made. Then, you won’t need to invest to create a stock.

Another alternative is to sell products only on an order basis, just like R.E.LOAD, which sells bags and other items especially for outdoor sports (and barbecuing). They customize the items according to the demand of the buyers. In this case, the items only start being produced after the payment is approved.

High competition

Just like you’re researching to start your own business, thousands of other people have already had this same idea, so competition is one of the first factors you should take into account before investing your money in creating an online shop.

What kind of product do you intend to offer? Are there other e-Commerces that already offer something similar? Can you offer it better? Study your market in advance to offer solutions that really make a difference and add value to the buyers’ lives.

Deliveries

The delivery logistics can be a real nightmare for the entrepreneur in countries with unreliable shipping services. Even for countries where you have access to reliable shipping services, such as USPS, UPS and FedEx in the United States, you need to research to choose the right one for you so you don’t get known for delaying your e-Commerce’s orders. We’ll talk more about this subject in the next topic.

A step-by-step to create your e-commerce

Creating an e-Commerce is as intuitive as the tutorial we wrote about how to create a blog.

Here’s the step-by-step.

Buy the domain

Just like in any other website, choosing your domain needs to be related to the product you’ll sell on your e-Commerce. Keep your name simple and easy to remember.

The process to buy the domain needs to be made through the website Domain.com. If you already have a website, you can create a directory within it to your shop, e.g.: www.plussizefashion.com/shop (fictitious URL).

Choose an e-Commerce tool

If you don’t know coding, you should use online e-Commerce tools.

Besides many customization possibilities, these platforms gather all the features you need to get started. There are services such as Shopfy, Wix.com, and other websites that offer intelligent solutions to create your online shop. It’s up to you to study each of them and decide the one that best fits your needs.

One tip is to research on Facebook groups about e-Commerces because you get to know the opinion of people who use these services and you can make a well-informed decision.

Select the payment method

On the e-Commerce tool, you can set the payment options to your products including direct deposit, credit card, PayPal, bank slip (to countries where it is applicable), etc. We remind you it is important to provide a variety of payment options to your client, as long as it doesn’t have a negative impact on your profit or affects your business logistics.

Choose the type of product: physical or digital

The choice of product you’ll sell can be both the first step of creating your e-Commerce or the last but it is definitely one of the most important since it will impact the distribution and logistic stages.

Physical products are the most common choice because this is the type of market we’re used to. They’re hard or soft goods such as books, food, clothes, shoes, etc.

On the other hand, digital products are distributed online and are usually educational content such as ebooks, online courses, software, and subscription services.

>> To understand more about the market of online products, click here.

Besides de logistics being simpler, in the case of digital products, your sales are scalable and there’s no limit to the number of transactions you can make because your product’s availability doesn’t depend on a stock. As long as it is for sale, you can profit from it.

On the other hand, these products are more prone to piracy and online distribution. Therefore, they need extra care when it comes to their distribution. Some distance learning platforms, like Hotmart Club, have mechanisms to prevent these practices, but it is worth bringing to your attention that piracy is a common crime that gets more and more difficult to erradicate.

Care for the logistics

One of the factors that let people more insecure when shopping online is because they don’t “take” the product home right after they pay for it, with the exception of digital products, which can be accessed from the moment payment is approved.

So, the biggest challenge of the entrepreneur who wants to start her own e-Commerce, is to come up with a perfectly functional distribution logistics both for you and the buyer. You need to decide if the products will made-to-order or if there will be a stock to sell, and, if there is a stock, how many units will there be available?

Besides, you need to think the best options for the shipping of goods. Research which one is interesting for you, if you’re in the US, we recommend you focus your research to USPS, FedEx, and UPS to get started.

Some physical shops who also have e-Commerces present the consumer with the option to pick up the order at the store, thus, saving the shipping.

Extra tip: Create an e-Commerce on your Facebook page

You don’t need to pay Facebook to add and market your product. To add a Store to your Page follow the tutorial below:

  1. Click the section Store on your page. If you can’t find this tab, click on Settings, on the top right corner and, then, the option Edit Page. On this menu, select the button Add a Tab.
  2. If you agree with the Commerce Product Merchant Agreement, click Continue. For safety reasons, Facebook can request your password again.
  3. Choose the option Message to buy, so your customers can get in touch with you whenever they’re interested in a product or Finish purchase on a different website to send your customers to another page to complete the purchase. Then, click Continue.
  4. Choose the currency you will use in your transactions. This currency will apply to all your products and can’t be changed, unless you delete your Shop Section and create a new one.
  5. Click Save.

When you finish this step, you can start adding your products.

Trends to watch

In the next years, the e-market will undergo some changes to adjust the needs of consumers. Here are some trends and how you can meet them.

More responsive e-Commerces

Even though most people access the Internet on mobile devices, many online shops still don’t adjust well to smaller screen such as the one of a smartphone. The tendency is that in the next few years this scenario changes, once the responsive design is one of the items that most influences the user experience.

New payment methods

Companies such as Apple, Amazon, and PayPal are already testing new payment methods for their products. The idea is that, soon, the customer won’t need credit cards and will use her fingerprint or other kind of digital identification to complete the purchase. The purpose of this change is to increase the reliability of the process as a whole and reduce frauds involving payment methods such as credit cards.

Analysis of consumer behavior

This item isn’t a trend anymore. It’s a reality for people who work with online sales. Tools such as Google Trends, which shows searches that are more frequent at a given moment, and Google Analytics, which unveils the visitors’ behavior within your website, can feed you precious information about your audience and help you attract more and more clients.

Rewards Programs

Currently, many companies work with this model, in which the customer is rewarded each time they make a purchase and can exchange points to new products or services. The “competition” for rewards instigates new clients to keep on buying and can work as a strategy to “recover” old clients.

Mash-up of online and offline

e-Commerces of physical products are already looking for ways to create a more complete experience for their consumers.

Farfetch, a luxurious e-Commerce platform that allows brands to sell online without the need for their own online business, has created a concept store which uses data to enhance the brick-and-mortar shopping experience. It uses online tools to enhance offline shopping. To learn more about Farfetch innovative solution, read this article from The Telegraph.

Having their own apps

Some e-Commerces are already developing their own apps to make their customers browsing easier and to make the purchasing process more intuitive. With these tools, the buyer can enter the payment information, eliminating the need to fill in this data whenever completing a new transaction. This is also a good channel to deliver content to your buyer in a consistent way.  

Chatbots

ChatBots are message interfaces that help your audience in some tasks that can be solved with questions and answers. Most intelligent ChatBots understand what the client is looking for through the use of keywords and even suggest supplementary services, which makes them a great tool for customer support in which the problem has an easy solution.

Take advantage to read our complete post about chatbots.

Tips to increase your sales

Have an intuitive menu

If the buyer needs to browse a lot on your website to find the items she is looking for, she might give up on the purchase. Your menu needs to be clear and intuitive to make the search process easier.

Add featured products on your website

Having a list with best-selling products, best ranked products, top consumers’ choices, among other segmentations help reduce the research time of the consumer and improves the experience she has on your page.

Have sponsored posts

More than 60% of the buyers look for recommendations online before making a purchase. Post on social media and get in touch with digital influencers to endorse your product.

Put a lot of effort to the description

The more information you provide about the product, the safer the buyer will feel to make the purchase. Especially if you work with digital products, which can’t be touched.

If this is your case, you need to make it clear that you’re selling a digital product and that the delivery will be, exclusively, online. If possible, use images that help materialize your product, such as a person reading on a tablet.

Expose your buyers’ review

Products’ rank is a powerful trigger to increase your sales, therefore, make sure to display it on your e-Commerce. However, it’s worth mentioning that the number of written reviews weighs more for the purchase decision than the general grade the product got, according to the Baymard Institute.

Follow the market changes

On the Internet everything changes very fast. So, it’s important to keep an eye out for the market and, especially, for the news on your segment. Monitor the competition to understand how it relates to your target audience and focus on the pains that are neglected by big retailers. These alternatives can have a fast financial return, once the competition is lower.

Create valuable content

To make more sales, you’ll need to have a multi-channel strategy that contemplates social media, email, and blog. But being present on every media is not enough. The entrepreneur needs to offer quality content that adds value to the buyer’s journey. Therefore, you need to know your persona very well and know exactly what she is interested in.

Write an attractive copy

Copy is short for copywriting, which is the ability to write a text with the purpose to convince the reader to perform an action.

The golden tip for a good copy is to focus on the benefits rather than the characteristics of the products. For example, if you sell an online course that teaches how to exercise at home, instead of “do a 40-minute functional exercise class”, you can use “learn to exercise using what you have handy at home”, and reinforce what the buyer will get if she purchases that content.

Encourage people to share your page on social media

Social media help attract huge traffic to your website, contributing to brand awareness, which is the phenomenon where other people get to know your brand.

A simple way to encourage interactions is adding share buttons from social media on your website. We also suggest you test to find out the best time to post on your page, this way, there are more chances of more people interacting with that content.

Consumers’ rights need to be out in the open

Even though the e-Market is growing, insecurity is still a factor that stops people from buying online. To handle this objection, highlight all policies that safeguard your consumer’s right, such as:  

Exchange or return policy

It may seem weird but consumers feel safer to purchase when they know they can request a refund or exchange the product if the item doesn’t fit their needs.

Privacy policies

It’s the document that explains how the data supplied by the buyer (name, email, payment information will be used by the website. By agreeing with it, the consumer admits to willingly give out this information.

Frequently Asked Questions

A.k.a., FAQs, this section gathers the most common questions your audience has about your shop and the products you sell, payment methods, and other information. It works like a support service for less complex demands, however, it is interesting you provide a contact email for questions you don’t clarify in this document.

Conclusion

If you intent to create an e-Commerce, you’ve seen in this post the first steps to do so.

However, it’s important to know that to stand out in the market, you need to go way beyond the obvious and constantly study your market to offer a service with high added value to your audience. If you’re just starting out, check out our tips to make your first online sale. See you next time!

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