I went to AWS to share with them the crux of business, technology and cloud in eCommerce last month. As opposed to the AWS Summit public conference sharing last year(see agenda here), I enjoyed the interaction with the intellectual bunch there. We understand that most business are still unaware of the true power of eCommerce, and a lot of folks are waiting for miracle to happen by just building an eCommerce site. Realizing what can be gained is the first critical step to make the best out of eCommerce to avoid costly failure. In a nutshell, properly done eCommerce can likely expand your business multi-folds. Here is a short but important list of potential benefits of eCommerce when coupled with the right business model (only brief explanation given for exercising your imagination):
Enlarge customer base
Within the same country, customer base is no longer limited to those who is in physical proximity to the shops because customers can reach the store in cyberspace anywhere in the country. Internationally, an eCommerce site has virtually no boundaries. Let’s say a decent sized business selling to 10 countries through physical presence is going online, the reach of customer base will instantaneously multiplied 3 times roughly if the eCommerce site is targeting 30 countries.
Benefit more directly from digital marketing
Traditional marketing requires multiple impressions for the customers to remember the products and companies enough to take action and visit the stores. Digital marketing without an eCommerce site will be less effective as well, because of the time gap between seeing the digital advertisement to actually visiting the physical store. As we all know, the longer such time gap, the less efficient the advertisement will be. With an eCommerce presence, the customer is only a click away from seeing the products and make purchase actions. So, marketing money will be much more effectively spent.
Anchor point of all e-Business activities
Digital transformation is a popular term recently, but some people sing along without grasping the significance. Essentially, it is about digitizing all business activities and data to enable efficient operational automation, speedy analysis of business, and accurate prediction of all sorts by computer. Digitization also enables internal business integration, and also external world integration. Instead of going into the details, let’s imagine a simple case of a company having an eCommerce site, which hooks up to the ERP, CRM, SSO, market channels, and big data analytics pipeline. A perfect setup will allow the business to have real time view of the whole business, and also automation which often reduce lots of human errors and delay. Data analysis, machine learning and the use of artificial intelligence, needless to say, will also give further insights and assistance to timely decision making. But without a decent eCommerce present as anchor point, business data cannot be tracked in proper details and frequency real time from end-to-end.
Collect and co-relate data big and small
An eCommerce site these days can help collect useful data, e.g. customer details, feedback, site interaction like abandon behavior, etc. Whether the volume of data is big enough to be called big data, or just smallish batch, can still help the business to pin point weaknesses and identify opportunities. (Hint: the internet is vast, which is a benefit, but also a drawback in the case of the costs of reaching out to the right population.)
Reduce costs per sale (in most cases)
Physical sales requires shop real-estate rental, utilities, staffing, decoration, logistics, and more. Obviously, a virtual store can serve the same if not more customers at fractions of the costs because of centralization and technology use.
Speed up buying/selling
A customer will not need to travel to the store, squeeze with other customers to browser the products, line up to pay, and then pack and carry the products home. Such time-saving also encourages conversion in a lot of cases. It also reduces the bottleneck sales throughput of a physical store, which can deter potential customers from even walking in because of the fear of jamming. In other words, density of sales per hour can be highly enhanced. Such effect is particularly evident in peak seasons.
Making it more convenient for the end-customer
Other than price, convenience is often an important factor in buying decision. A mom will no longer need to hesitate to bring her child along to fight the crowd and traffic before buying an item. A busy executive can also save time shopping. So, except those who enjoy the act of loitering the shopping mall, eCommerce makes it convenient and hence will attract more customers.
The title says it all. No more 11am-8pm shop hours limitation. The eCommerce site can sell virtually all the time!
Other benefits include social marketing from happy customers, easier automation, and more. Those interested to know how your particular business can benefit from eCommerce, please contact us. With the low costs of setting up eCommerce nowadays, it is hard to imagine the reasons for not doing so. We can provide consultancy, implementation, and management services to your eCommerce initiatives.