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‘E’ by gum!

E-commerce can, quite simply, help you to do more business.

 If you are starting out on your e-commerce journey, there are some very basic things that you need to get right from the start, and if you don’t you could be doomed to failure.

The internet allows companies – big and small – to grow and is a great way to extend business at little cost. However, for it to really work well it has to do just that – ‘work’!

Doing your business, whether that means offering products or services, via the internet has a whole heap of benefits – but there can be drawbacks too, so making sure that you get that perfect balance is essential.

Your e-commerce site will give you a 24 hours a day, seven days a week presence that you couldn’t otherwise achieve – an ‘open for business’ window on the world. But, you must not only ensure that you get this ‘window’ right, but that your business can cope with that always-on strategy. 

The very basics

At its most basic, every company needs a website. Of course, most companies already have this, but do these sites do what visitors want them to? Often, they contain much information that is not required, yet it is like travelling through a maze to find the stuff you really need, like contacts, and they often don’t do the best marketing job in promoting your company.

What visitors want is to know is if you can you do it/provide it? Can you do that ‘now’? Can you do it cost effectively? Can you do it to the correct quality? 

What your website should cover is how you can help your customers. How you can take their problems and find solutions? How what you do can add value to what they do? That might seem like a very basic and obvious change, but check out e-commerce websites and you will very soon see examples of good and bad. 

Stepping it up

And, don’t forget about how it looks. It needs to be creative and eye catching, but importantly, if it looks great but is hard to navigate, and not easy to use, it is destined to failure.

The ability to take orders via the internet also massively increases the amount of potential customers that you can attract – geographical constraints no longer come into play, so make sure it will be relevant globally. 

You can take orders from anywhere you can deliver too, and also reach more people than your sales team could ever hope to contact. However, using the internet to interact with your customers can mean something of a disconnect – and we all know the importance of relationships in business. So, don’t dismiss the value of people. Let them work as problem solvers and enhance your customer service and loyalty by having more time for clients. 

Getting smart

And, if you feel that this is all a little too much for the type of business that you run, then e-commerce can still help. You don't have to go full out and become a business to consumer supplier, but you can make life easier for those customers you do have by giving them easy to access ordering at any time that suits them. 

In fact, there are plenty of e-commerce software packages available which are adaptable and will allow you to fit them to the exact needs of your business and your customers, tailored to suit what you need, when you need it.

Using the power of the internet and e-commerce to enhance what you do can make a real difference and ensure that you make the most of expanding your business.

From Solutions magazine, Earth Island Publishing.