Are you thinking of starting an online store? It could be one of the best decisions you'll ever make. The number of digital buyers worldwide is estimated to reach 1.92 billion in 2019. Online shopping accounts for more than 14 percent of total retail sales in the U.S. Increased convenience, flexibility, low startup costs and the chance to reach a global audience are just a few of the benefits of online selling.
An online business makes it easier to reach a global audience and increase brand awareness. It also requires lower costs than a physical store and can be scaled quickly.
In this digital era, buyers expect fast turnaround, 24/7 customer service and instant access to products and services. Approximately 35 percent of customers aged 18 to 29 and 35 percent of those aged 30 to 39 go shopping online at least once a week. Experts predict that global retail e-commerce sales will generate over $3.3 billion in 2019 and over $4.4 billion by 2021.
Considering these facts, it's no surprise that a growing number of companies are moving their operations online. This allows them to reach a global audience and increase brand awareness at a fraction of the cost compared to traditional methods.
Setting up a website, displaying your products and advertising online require less time and money than running a brick-and-mortar store. Digital technologies, such as e-commerce and retail apps, deep learning algorithms, chatbots and marketing automation tools, can streamline your business operations and help you deliver superior customer experiences.
The advantages of online selling go beyond time and cost savings. If you choose this path, you'll find it easier to compete with larger businesses and put your products in front of a global audience. Furthermore, you can improve your offerings and marketing efforts by using customer data. Facebook Ads, Google Adwords and other advertising channels provide detailed insights into customer behavior, preferences, purchasing power and more.
When you start a physical store, you must rent or purchase space and pay for things like property insurance, zoning permits, signage permits, decorations, utilities and so on. These costs are out of reach for many entrepreneurs. An online shop, by comparison, requires less money.
After you register your business and make a plan, you can set up your website within hours. All you need is a domain name and hosting. Next, you can either download a ready-made website template or hire a web designer. If you're planning to sell goods or services online, you can purchase an e-commerce theme. These templates provide everything you need to get started, including a digital storefront, built-in payment systems, contact forms and more.
With an online business, you don’t have to worry about rent, utilities or building permits. Plus, there's no need to hire shop assistants and department managers. Customers will have access to your products around the clock. Once an order is placed, the system will take care of the rest.
One of the main advantages of online selling is website personalization. Sure, you can personalize a physical store, but it could never offer the same features like an online shop.
A website allows you to collect customer data and then segment your email lists based on buyers' location, purchase history, product preferences and other criteria. Plus, you can launch online ads targeting customers who visited your store and abandoned their shopping cart.
Furthermore, you can display your bestsellers, as well as products related to those that a customer has already bought. For example, if a buyer is looking at high heel sandals, you can set your website to display similar products. This can lead to more page views, higher traffic and increased sales.
If you have a physical store that performs well, you may need to rent more space to accommodate more customers and products. A larger facility will involve higher costs. The ability to scale your business easily is one of the key benefits of online selling. As your e-commerce store grows, you can upgrade your hosting plan to get more space and keep up with the increase in traffic.
Most hosting providers sell different plans, from basic to premium packages. Depending on your needs and budget, you can start with a basic plan and upgrade later on. This process takes just a few minutes and costs next to nothing compared to a physical store.
Like everything else, e-commerce has its drawbacks. The fierce competition, for example, can make it difficult to grow and promote your business. Additionally, customers cannot try your products before placing an order, which may lead to a high return rate. Define your goals, weigh the pros and cons of online selling and then make a decision accordingly. Consider starting out with a small number of products to mitigate the risks and gain a better understanding of this business model.