E-retail, online shopping, e-commerce… many names with a single trend; more and more consumers are purchasing goods and services over the internet. U.S. e-commerce sales grew from 72 billion U.S. dollars in 2002 to 228 billion U.S. dollars in 2010 (mostly travel booking sites at the time). Online retail sales increased about 16.6% in the first quarter of 2012 marking the tenth consecutive quarter of positive year-over-year growth and sixth consecutive quarter of double-digit growth, according to the web measurement firm comScore Inc.
Shopping online offers a wide range of advantages for consumers: it is often faster, cheaper and more convenient and the product range is virtually infinite, including clothes, books, toys, movies and music (both digital and physical), tickets, classes and even groceries and delivery. Plus the service industries are selling packages and promotions online through their own sites and deal sites like Groupon and LivingSocial. The industries are investing more and more into e-commerce especially with the impulsive convenience of being able to purchase anywhere at anytime with Smartphones. You can browse, read user reviews, and even try on your clothes on a virtual version of yourself to mimic, or replace, the old fashioned shopping experience. Fun Facts: Amazon.com, which started in 1995, is the most popular online shopping site today and the most popular item purchased on tablets (like the iPad) was apparel.
As a business owner you can reach a much wider customer base and sell all over the world assuming you can ship your products. You can make a big impact on your returns by focusing attention on local customers and geo-targeted online advertising. A great way to encourage your clients to buy online is by offering free shipping. 48.8% of e-commerce transactions during the first quarter of 2012 included free shipping. It is also important to streamline the checkout process in your online shopping cart or purchasing experience. Make it as quick and simple as possible (you don’t want to lose customers because they get frustrated trying to buy your products). People are very visual and photos are often more important than a detailed description but it all depends on what you’re selling. No matter what you have to make your product appeal moreover you have to convince the visitor to click “buy now”.
What is required to start selling online? You could get a domain name and build a website with a full fledged shopping cart which calculates tax and processes credit cards or you could use a 3rd party website like ebay or amazon to sell your merchandise. Each end of the spectrum has its advantages and disadvantages. To oversimplify, your own e-commerce system will be more costly upfront but give a much higher return in the long run. 3rd party sites will allow you to sell a limited range of products but at a cost; they take a percentage and/or fee. Furthermore, you don’t have as much control over how you market the products. There are also mixed solutions like using your own site together with a 3rd party payment gateway or shopping cart like paypal and opencart.
Whatever you’re selling, be it product or services, wherever you’re selling it, be it on the web or on a smartphone, WbC Web Design can help you get up and running quickly so you can sell sell sell!