5-6 MIN READ.
Both B2B & B2C businesses are facing continued challenges as the UK high street continues to struggle. More and more traditional “bricks-and-mortar” business owners are starting to look at their business model and ask themselves “why sell online?”.
– Reasons Why Small Business Should Sell Online:
- Sell More!
- Be Where Your New & Existing Customers Are
- Reduce Selling Costs & Support Your Existing Business
- It’s Inexpensive to Get Up & Running Fast
- Improve Your Customer Service
- Measure Your Success
Reasons Why Small Business Should Sell Online:
1. Sell More!
While the UK retail sector’s non-E-commerce growth has slowed to 0.4%, E-commerce sales are expected to increase by over 10% this year (*1). E-commerce currently accounts for 22.3% of all UK retail sales AND it’s growing. UK E-commerce sales by small businesses with 10-49 employees is showing the biggest % increase; an increase of 337% between 2012-2017(*2)!
Sell in Your Sleep
Owning a 24 hour, traditional store is likely to be not workable for most businesses. Staffing your store (or manning it yourself) and increased overheads such as heat and power makes opening 24hrs prohibitive. An online store does not need these overheads. If your information is clear, concise and you answer your clients FAQs; you can sell 24/7/365 at no extra cost and process the orders when you re-open.
E-Commerce Sites are Excellent Salespeople!
If you run a sales team, it won’t surprise you that 80% of sales are made by 20% of salespeople (*4).
A well-set up E-commerce website is not afraid to up-sell or cross-sell your other products. You can choose to encourage clients to buy a more expensive item or one that earns you more profit. Selling platforms can also learn what products users buy together and offer them at checkout.
E-Commerce for Small B2B Businesses
Trade businesses can have complex structures and require alterations to make E-Commerce work for them. Yet, when you consider that B2B and B2C E-commerce sales are almost neck-and-neck(*3); minor changes to your business methods could provide a serious increase in sales.
2. Be Where Your New & Existing Customers Are
To visit your store; your client needs to be on your street. To visit your online store a customer needs to be online. In the UK we each spend on average almost 8 hours online every day (*5). So, it’s safe to say that having an online store would make selling your products more accessible to clients.
Bring Your Target Customers to You
Having an online store can support your traditional business. Consumer behaviour shows us that 59% of people will use your online store to research before visiting your physical store (*6).
Using digital marketing techniques to put your online store in-front of new & existing clients will make it easier for clients to buy your products. But a successful online store will also increase your in-store and telephone sales (*7).
3. Reduce Selling Costs & Support Your Existing Business
An online shop doesn’t need heat, light and expensive rent or rates amongst other operating expenses when compared to a physical shop. Staffing a bricks-and-mortar shop is also more expensive. Having staff waiting for customers in your off-peak selling periods reduces your profit margin further. Instead staff can be utilised during off-peak times to process and pack online orders ready to be shipped/collected.
4. It’s Inexpensive to Get Up & Running Fast
By now “why sell online?” has probably moved to “how much does it cost to go online and how long does it take?” – It’s extremely quick and inexpensive but will depend on store complexity and how many products/services you sell.
Attaching a Store to Your Existing Website
If you’re happy with your existing website it is likely that you can attach a store for very little expense. If your site is built on an open source platform like WordPress, you can plug in a store very easily. In this case upgrading your site could cost as little as a few hundred pounds. Altering a bespoke-built site could cost more.
Starting From Scratch
You may need to start from scratch if you don’t have a website or if your existing website needs upgrading. Starting from scratch will cost more (think £1,200+) to set up. The upside is that you can design it exactly how you want it rather than bolting it on to an existing site.
What About Offline Costs?
There are few ongoing running costs to having an online store. Most costs are associated with selling more of your product or service. You may need more space for stock or more staff to process orders etc. Drop shipping could be a solution in your industry. Drop shipping can negate the requirement for more stock or more warehousing space. By having your supplier stock your product and distribute straight to your customer you can save even more and not even handle the product yourself! Most E-commerce stores can talk to drop-shippers to streamline the service you offer.
5. Improve Your Customer Service
Making life easy for customers will help you gain more sales. Having an online store isn’t just about displaying your prices online; it’s much more. By improving communication through email, live messaging and useful content you can improve customer experience. This about adding “how-to’s” and advice. FAQs, videos and reviews can also further improve customer experience in increase conversion rates. Use digital content marketing to engage and inform your audience and encourage them to use your site throughout their purchase journey.
Think: If you can create interest, inform and supply a product all in one-site, your client has no reason to visit your competitors’ websites.
6. Measure Your Success
One of the main advantages of selling online is the wealth of information it provides marketers with. By connecting your site to platforms like [Google Analytics] you can understand your customers better. You will find which customers purchase what, and where they come from. You’ll be able to use this information to better utilise your marketing budget and drive further sales in the future without extra cost.
What Does the Future Hold for E-Commerce?
While it’s impossible to predict the future purchasing trends are unlikely to fluctuate in the short to medium term. We expect e-commerce to continue to grow at a larger rate compares with non-e-commerce sales.
While we see continued growth in e-commerce, the way people buy online is changing fast. Smartphone’s account for over 58% of e-commerce sales and this is expected to rise to over 71% by 2023. This supports the importance of mobile-friendly sites. It also means that it’s likely that search engines like Google will further penalise sites that aren’t mobile-friendly in the future.
To summarise E-commerce is super important to small business. Bricks-and-mortar stores still have benefits and many shoppers still use them. But, an online store can complement a physical store perfectly.
An E-commerce store can gain your business sales that it would otherwise miss out on while improving your offline sales too. When thinking about an E-commerce store your business should also plan for the future and make it accessible for mobile users. Ensure you optimise sales opportunities in this rapidly growing trend of smartphone sales by talking to an expert.
Thanks for reading and we hope you’ve found the information in this post useful.
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- *1 – https://www.emarketer.com/content/uk-ecommerce-2019
- *2 – https://www.ons.gov.uk/businessindustryandtrade/itandinternetindustry/bulletins/ecommerceandictactivity/2017#website-sales-continue-to-grow-across-all-sizes-of-uk-businesses
- *3 – https://www.statista.com/statistics/284278/e-commerce-sales-via-website-in-the-united-kingdom-uk-by-b2b-and-b2c/
- *4 – https://www.hubspot.com/marketing-statistics
- *5 – https://wearesocial.com/blog/2019/01/digital-2019-global-internet-use-accelerates
- *6 – https://www.consumerbarometer.com/en/graph-builder/?question=S17&filter=country:united_kingdom
- *7 – https://www.consumerbarometer.com/en/graph-builder/?question=S7&filter=country:united_kingdom