While the Internet is a highly competitive space with a growing number of retailers vying for customer attention, the Web is also an ideal place for efficient sales transactions, with lower barriers to entry, constant accessibility for customers, quick communication possibilities and various digital tools for measuring sales and visitor traffic. Especially in the case of small businesses that often lack huge marketing and operational budgets -- and for which every sale counts -- the advantages of online retailing can be an important business asset.
As compared to setting up a shop, the costs associated with online retailing are drastically lower, sometimes including no more than domain name registration and setting up a simple shopping cart template. Even after opening your online retailing business, the operational costs for expenses such as hosting and site redesigns pale in comparison to costs such as rent payments and physical decorations. These reduced costs create lower barriers to entry -- the expenses required for a business to enter a market -- and allow many small businesses to quickly grow with online sales.
Through technologies such as email and customer chat applications, online retail operations are able to quickly relay information to customers and suppliers. In the case of an indirect sales channel, where you rely on suppliers to ship merchandise to you before you can send products to customers, efficient communication allows your small business to answer customer questions quickly, get in touch with suppliers, confirm orders and dispatch shipments -- all with a few keystrokes rather than waiting on a phone or running to a warehouse.
One of the great advantages of an online retail website is the ability to integrate analytics software that tracks the behavior of visitors to your site. Providing information such as what sites visitors come from and what pages they look at before making a purchase, these metrics allow you to make changes to your site to increase traffic and sales -- all supported by solid data. Online retailers are also helped by online marketing strategies such as search engine and social media marketing that send out links to your site to targeted users and bring more shoppers to your business.
Without having to pay employees for the night shift or keep the lights on, your online retail website is always open. The added convenience makes customers more likely to make a purchase and, if you choose to pass on some of the operational savings to your customers, can help you establish more competitive prices to attract even more shoppers. You can also use your website to provide product descriptions and basic customer service information, once again providing added convenience for your customers while reducing your support budget needs.