E-commerce For Small Businesses

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E-commerce for small businesses is an easy way to stand out in a saturated market. It drives sales, increases company visibility, and provides excellent growth. The following article discusses the need for e-commerce solutions for small businesses. You will get to know what types of e-commerce solutions you can adopt, key e-commerce challenges for SMBs, factors to consider for an e-commerce platform, and more.

Why Should Small Businesses Need an E-commerce Component?

Starting an e-commerce business is an essential step for small businesses. Various reasons are involved behind why small businesses require an e-commerce component. Let’s go through the factors involved.

 

Customer buying analytics

Conventional retail sales own limited analytical capabilities. In many cases, you can’t know which customers bought what. Moreover, many customers decide not to convey their personal information at the checkout and make cash payments. Although retail store owners can assess inventory trends, small businesses must bring other aspects with web analytics.

With the help of online e-commerce tools, online retailers can discern different types of valuable data. Some of the valuable data they learned are listed below.

Page views – It denotes the number of times a customer visits a specific page on your e-commerce website.

Average time spent shopping – As the name implies, it denotes the total time a customer spends shopping on your website.

Clicks on specific offers or products – It denotes the number of times customers click on a specific offer or product.

Shopping cart abandonment stats – These denote the frequency of a customer dropping out of the buying process.

Bounce rate – It denotes the percentage of customers visiting your e-commerce store but leaving immediately and without visiting other pages on your website.

Products frequently bought together – It shows which products customers frequently purchase together. These statistics help you to curate sales or promos around the products customers often buy together.

Search engine traffic

It is possible to have an engaging web presence without setting up an e-commerce store. However, setting up an e-commerce store can significantly boost your web presence and attract more customers to your e-commerce store. You can have massive search engine traffic to your e-commerce website by working on factors like page load speed, keywords, mobile friendliness, SEO ranking, and more.

Automated marketing engine

Online advertising is immensely popular; it significantly expands visibility and reaches. Your e-commerce platform can work as a comprehensive automated marketing engine. It allows you to drive ads and traffic to enhance sales.

When making e-commerce purchases, customers need not visit your online shop and pay there. Instead, they can click on your ad, land on a specific landing page, and purchase in simple steps. Subsequently, you can use email marketing to reach them with other products they may be interested in. 

Improved customer experience

An online store can help you create a satisfying customer experience that can increase your business sales. If your e-commerce store meets the customers’ expectations, they will find it convenient to buy their desired product(s) 24/7. This saves customers’ time, money, and effort.

E-commerce solutions for small businesses are not just about eliminating the negatives of physical shopping but also about improving the customers’ shopping journey. You can create a better customer experience by diversifying your sales channels with online and in-store sales opportunities.

Because the customer can’t physically touch or try your products, you must build a superior level of trust to attract them to make a purchase.

Better mobile usability

Every customer may not prefer browsing and ordering products through a computer or laptop. Most people use smartphones today. So, your e-commerce store should be mobile-friendly. All the products, offers, and facilities should be clearly visible to the customers and provide a hassle-free shopping experience. 

Types of E-commerce Solutions

E-commerce solutions are not universal. You need to consider e-commerce software for small businesses of various sizes and shapes. Let’s go through the two significant types of e-commerce solutions.

Open source

Open source means the source code used to build a website. It is available to everyone so that they can create an e-commerce platform.

Here are the advantages of open-source e-commerce solutions:

  • Flexibility from any one specific vendor
  • Flawless integration with existing systems.
  • Allows platforms’ customization

Note that this type of e-commerce solution is not perfect, and its limitations can drive some users to other options. For example, open-source e-commerce solutions demand more security interventions. It can be challenging to host your e-commerce source efficiently. Moreover, it may incur extra costs like IT team expenses.

Headless commerce

Headless commerce is not the most widespread choice for small businesses. However, it is a decent option for those small businesses with unique requirements. It disintegrates the backend that supervises your e-commerce’s tech features from the front end. Alternatively, it removes the presentation layer customers observe when shopping online.

This e-commerce solution is beneficial when you want to maintain a flexible presentation of your products and a consistent system of selling products. For example, businesses with an international presence need various frontend appearances but the same backend functionality.

Headless commerce benefits small businesses in terms of flexibility. However, the complexity and cost can offset the benefits. Therefore, many small businesses adopt SaaS or open-source e-commerce solutions.

What Are the Top E-commerce Challenges for SMBs?

You may face unique challenges when setting up an e-commerce store compared to a physical one. Let’s go through some of the leading e-commerce challenges for SMBs.

1. Cybersecurity

Small firms concentrating their efforts in the e-commerce market need proper rules and processes to deploy effective cybersecurity architecture. Generally, small-scale businesses can’t afford delays in operations and sales during a cyberattack. The reason is each transaction determines the financial success of its business.

The small business e-commerce income depends on it. So, they need a powerful cybersecurity framework to ensure data safety and prevent cyberattacks. Small businesses can use data security software and stricter access control to reinforce their defenses against vulnerabilities. As a result, they can effectively deter cybersecurity risks.

2. Competition

Globalization has reduced different types of barriers globally. It has therefore become challenging for businesses to be unique. Hence, small businesses must beat their competitors regarding services, products, and pricing. 

Standing out from the crowd and attracting new clients to your e-commerce business is vital. This is doable by ascertaining that your website content is perfectly aligned with the existing Google algorithm to rank it higher on search results.

3. Order fulfillment

Two prominent challenges small businesses face from the order fulfillment perspective are the variable delivery locations and failure to streamline the supply chains. Therefore, they must invest resources and time optimizing their delivery channels via planning and implementation. If not, growing e-commerce websites for small businesses would turn out to be a monotonous process.

4. Customer experience

Client segmentation and pricing are two of the most ignored facets of the consumer experience when transitioning to e-commerce. In the online world, customers expect more and know more about your prices and products. They assume to be treated identically on  online or offline platforms. Hence, if they can’t get the in-person price online, they get discouraged and transition to a different website/platform.

5. Quality website traffic and visitor conversion

Your e-commerce website must be user-friendly and reliable enough to transform your visitors into paying customers. Before creating an e-commerce website, you must know your target audience. 

Creating an effective business website is just the beginning. Another crucial step is optimizing your e-commerce website’s content using SEO. The e-commerce small business owners should first outline who they want to reach. Subsequently, they can build a customer base with a consistent revenue stream and faithful customers.

6. Visibility

Prospective customers can’t easily find your brand online if it doesn’t appear on the foremost page of Google’s search results for the relevant keywords. Small businesses can tackle this challenge by investing in SEO. Small e-commerce companies must conduct keyword research, employ on-page SEO best practices, and build high-authority links to their website.

7. Return and refund policies

Customer satisfaction is crucial to ensure the growth of your business. The products your company sells must be the same as advertised. It means it is essential to be transparent. So, you must develop easy-to-understand return and refund policies so that customers don’t face any hassles from order placement to delivery.

8. Finding the right market

It is quite challenging to find the right market for your product. Many small businesses have set up their e-commerce store but still have not identified their ideal customers. In such cases, it is better to make certain assumptions about the target market and run online ads for that audience. Once you notice a sale, try to analyze who purchased your product and investigate more about those customers. You can discern the best way to reach out to your ideal customers after your products match the market.

9. Making and increasing sales

After selecting your products and implementing a small business e-commerce marketing plan, the next thing is to generate sales. 

Creating a sales plan and selling your products may appear straightforward but challenging. E-commerce small business owners must have the right product at a reasonable price to boost sales. Moreover, they must ensure product availability when customers are ready for purchase.

Asking the following questions will help you to determine whether your e-commerce can generate great sales:

  • Is the website interface easy to navigate?
  • Is the website content intriguing and easy to understand?
  • Is the checkout experience hassle-free?
  • Are there coupons available that can be applied when customers spend a certain amount to obtain a discount?

Working on these questions can significantly increase conversion and ensure a satisfying customer experience.

10. Borderless e-commerce

Shopping has now turned borderless owing to the global prevalence of e-commerce websites. Consumers can effortlessly buy products from companies located overseas. Therefore, e-commerce businesses should accommodate customers of all backgrounds. Your e-commerce business can be more successful by thoughtfully accommodating other cultures and languages.

11. Augmented reality

Augmented reality (AR) helps e-commerce businesses demonstrate to consumers what a product would appear like in their place. For example, if somebody buys a table for their office, AR helps them visualize the table in that room. This kind of visualization reinforces their buying decision. Small businesses can opt for AR o give a better and trustful shopping experience.

12. IoT commerce

Internet of Things (IoT) commerce is a popular method for customers to make digital purchases via IoT devices (like cars, smart speakers, appliances, and other smart devices). Businesses can now accelerate product delivery to the new channels. Accommodating this new shopping approach implies that companies should focus on their PIM (Product Information Management) solution. Hence, they can swiftly respond to API requests and sell the products in new channels.

What to Look for in an E-commerce Platform?

The choice of a suitable platform for e-commerce for small businesses depends on various factors. Some of the significant factors are discussed below.

Cost and extra charges

Usually, small businesses have limited resources to invest in their e-commerce websites. It suggests that an e-commerce platform’s price is their foremost consideration. Certain e-commerce platform options provide affordable monthly fees but demand more expenditure in the future. You can keep an eye on some of the hidden fees listed below.

  • Site maintenance fees
  • Security and PCI compliance
  • Hosting
  • Domain names
  • Plug-ins or add-ons
  • Website themes
  • Credit card processing

Many e-commerce platforms provide a free trial that helps you to test it and explore its integrated features. Before choosing an e-commerce platform, analyze what features are supported in the monthly rate and prepare a list of features required for your business. This approach helps you to choose the best e-commerce platforms for a small business meeting your business goals.

Security

Running an e-commerce store involves dealing with sensitive data like customers’ credit card numbers, other payment details, and address. Small businesses must cautiously handle these sensitive details and provide the utmost safety to personal data. For accepting payments online, your e-commerce business should be PCI compliant. Otherwise, there is a risk of fines, a ban on accepting payments, loss of customer trust, and other fraud-released financial outcomes.

Site maintenance fees

  • Security and PCI compliance
  • Hosting
  • Domain names
  • Plug-ins or add-ons
  • Website themes
  • Credit card processing

Many e-commerce platforms provide a free trial that helps you test and explores its integrated features. Before choosing an e-commerce platform, analyze what features are supported in the monthly rate and prepare a list of features required for your business. This approach helps you to choose the best e-commerce platforms for a small business meeting your business goals.

Transaction fees

Credit card usage has been widespread in recent times. However, accepting payments through credit cards isn’t always free. Many best e-commerce platforms for small businesses have hidden transaction fees related to credit card purchases. Prioritize choosing an e-commerce platform that offers flexible payment options with affordable or no transaction fees.

Built-in features

Merely listing your products on your e-commerce website doesn’t guarantee success. Your e-commerce website must have several built-in features that can drive more conversion and sales.

Whether its automated discounts and promotions or analytics, the built-in features listed below benefit your e-commerce website

Analytics

Your small business needs tools to analyze your customer’s preferences and behavior. Analyzing these metrics helps you improve your marketing drives and meet their needs. 

You must look for an e-commerce platform with built-in customer analytics tools that identifies your products’ performance and tracks activity and visits on your website. An e-commerce platform with these capabilities can help you determine what is most influencing your business and how to serve your customers more effectively. Analytics to build and grow small business includes:

  • SEO optimization
  • Website customization
  • Application integrations
  • Payment management

Inventory management

Your inventory is your business if you are selling physical products. So, small businesses must implement an efficient inventory management mechanism on e-commerce platforms. Your chosen platform must offer the necessary tools to prevent “out-of-stock” issues. It must be able to track goods your store has in stock. Moreover, it must support operations like storing, ordering, restocking, and forecasting.

Ease of use

The complex user interface of an e-commerce platform makes it harder for you to access its features. Aspects like set-up flow, product and SKU management, and centralized channel management guarantees ease of use.

Themes

A free, generic theme is suitable for start-up businesses. But with time, you need to build a brand for your business and need a customized theme and design. Some e-commerce platforms charge additional fees for a custom website design service. So, you must look for an e-commerce platform that offers various free themes.

E-commerce Platforms for Small Business Owners

Many e-commerce platforms for small businesses are prevalent; they have unique pros and cons. The following options help you to choose the best small business e-commerce platform.

BigCommerce

It is one of the best e-commerce solutions for small businesses and large enterprises. It offers an all-inclusive set of tools ranging from marketing to analytics. It also offers superior design options, outstanding support from industry professionals, and a prominent open SaaS e-commerce platform.

BigCommerce is the best choice for small-scale e-commerce businesses because it supports over 65 payment solutions, bigger file support, zero hidden transaction charges, unlimited bandwidth, and 600 App Partners.

Shopify

Shopify is a SaaS platform for small businesses and starter e-commerce stores. It can help business owners to quickly scale their business. It boasts an extensive marketplace of over 6,000 integrated apps and 70 responsive and professional themes. Therefore, it allows you to add custom features to your online stores.

Magento

Magento is an on-premise, open-source solution. It usually needs an outside agency or in-house developer resources to set up an e-commerce store. Hence, Magento is suitable for those e-commerce brands highly invested in IT or development teams.

Squarespace

The creative community extensively uses this SaaS provider. Many of its templates depict video, art, or music products.

WooCommerce

It is an open-source WordPress plug-in that e-commerce business owners can use to convert their blogs and websites into online shop fronts. It provides SEO functionalities, different payment gateways, and choices for multichannel.

Weebly

Weebly is suitable for small business owners with a small web development experience. It presents a user-friendly interface and simple setup. You can choose from free design templates at cost-effective prices.

Wix

Wix is popular as a free website builder. It can be useful for small business owners because it offers many free themes, an easy drag-and-drop interface, and an easy setup. Moreover, it is popular for offering drop shipping capabilities, abandoned cart recovery, and omnichannel selling features.

Conclusion

Small businesses can effectively provide a satisfying customer experience by incorporating e-commerce solutions. E-commerce for small businesses offers key benefits like increasing sales and conversion, driving more traffic to your website, SEO optimization, and efficient inventory management. Moreover, it gives you a competitive advantage over those businesses that don’t use e-commerce solutions.

FAQs 

How to start your e-commerce journey?

Firstly, you must identify services and products compatible with an e-commerce solution. Make sure to be strategic. Identifying trending products that sell will help. 

2. Identify the countries you want to ship to by considering customer base, competitors, and the country’s legal landscape. Make sure to conduct extensive research on potential countries. 

3.Set up your e-commerce platform that features your services or products. You can also choose a third-party e-commerce market platform.

4. Use all the features, tools, and insights your e-commerce solution provides. Design and execute marketing and promotional strategies involving your target customer base.

How much does TikTok Shop charge for shipping?

TikTok Shop shipping fees vary depending on the weight and destination of the package. You can calculate the shipping fees by entering the package details in the shipping calculator provided during checkout.

How does an e-commerce platform offer easy management of customers, inventory, and orders to small businesses?

Most of these platforms incorporate features and tools that help small businesses to manage, organize and store customer data. Small businesses can use this data to create marketing plans and launch their products.

E-commerce platforms commonly indicate the number of products and their availability for inventory management. Whenever a customer places an order, it only takes a few clicks to generate related documents to dispatch the order. This reduces the time and effort required to accomplish administrative tasks. Moreover, it allows small businesses to better engage with customers and personalize their services to attract customers.

Does every small business need an e-commerce website?

An e-commerce website is required for all small businesses intending to grow their business sales online. It provides your business with a competitive edge over those businesses that don’t have an e-commerce website. Building an e-commerce website can lead to robust digital brand identity and a better omnichannel experience.

How does an e-commerce solution benefit your business with low operation costs?

For small businesses, the e-commerce market requires low cost of operations compared to physical stores. In offline stores, owners must invest in the perfect location and setting or renting a store to grab the right audience’s attention. Online stores skip this costly investment. When using an e-commerce solution, you don’t need to hire staff. 

What steps are involved after setting up an e-commerce solution for your business?

You need to monitor the performance of your e-commerce solution (from a revenue perspective) after its setup for your business.

It is also vital to pay attention to how your customers are responding. You can do that in the following ways:

  • Ask them in person or on social media.
  • Do they face any technical issues?
  • Does it assist to shop online or browse your products before landing at the store?

You can then use feedback and metrics to your store’s functioning. After learning how your e-commerce solution influences your small business, you can invest some of the profits again into the website. You can hire a developer to develop a WordPress site that will save you money. After evaluating an e-commerce store, you can incorporate marketing strategies.

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