Do you own a physical store and thinking if you need an e-commerce website? Nowadays, it is hard for me to think of a retail store or service establishment that will not benefit from an e-commerce website. Whether the business is aiming for growth through penetration of a larger market share or a store who wish to only cater their small neighborhood, e-commerce website is beneficial. In case you are very new to business and internet world, e-commerce website in simple term is a website where customers can place their orders online. It is a real game changer and as small business owner, you should consider having one and here are some of the reasons why.
1 You do not want to miss out many potential customers
The Philippines has one of the worst in Asia in terms of internet services and infrastructure but this didn’t stop the growth of internet users in the Philippines. According to statistics, this year 2016, 43.5 % of our population have access to the internet. That is 43.5% out of the total population of 102,250,133. If your business have no presence online, like in search engines, social media etc, you are missing a lot of opportunities.
2 E-commerce Website will make it easier to do business with you
It is becoming a common behavior of consumers to search online before they make a purchase. Not just that, it is also becoming common for consumers to buy goods and services online simply because it is more convenient for them. The number one reason that you should consider putting up a website is to make it easier for your customers and prospects to do business with you. Because why should the customer/prospect go through the traffic to buy from your competitor if it is easier to buy online from your website. This is not only applicable for retail, this is true for service establishments as well.
3 24/7 operation with minimal added cost
Your website will operate 24 hours a day and 7 days a week with very minimal cost. With less than 10,000php per year, you can have an operational website, selling products for you and providing information to your prospects and customers with no additional manpower. Once your website is properly setup, all you have to think about is the actual fulfillment of the orders if you are selling physical products and services. With an e-commerce website, you can expect to have sales even before and after your physical stores’ operating hours.
4 Your social media account or 3rd party merchant account may not last
Many small businesses are not putting up website because they already have a page on Facebook or other social media account where they can promote and sell their products. Having an official page on social media account is good; however this should not be the center of your internet marketing strategy simply because these social media companies or your page may not last. I heard many stories about a business doing good online until somebody else’s claimed their page or their page got banned. There are also many businesses that used to do well in Friendster, Myspace and especially Multiply and Sulit until those websites shuts down, changed rules and direction. If these businesses also built a following through their own website, the continuity of the business or at least its presence online will be more secured. The same thing applies if you are selling in big e-commerce sites that you do not own. Other than they usually collect fees from your sale which lowers your margin, it is possible that they may not last or your account or product gets banned.
5 Big data and analytics
If you are investing particularly in the stock market or following news in the tech industry, you probably heard the acronym “FANG”. It stands for Facebook, Amazon, Netflix, and Google. They are some of the most valuable companies in the world. One thing that made them valuable is because they have tons of data. These data was collected overtime through their users and customers and it is really valuable. If you have your own website that is collecting data from your customers, you will have a capability to understand them better; you will see patterns about their demographics, purchasing pattern, behaviors etc. which will later on help you to develop more products and marketing strategies.
Let’s say for example you are in a business selling dog products, in January certain customers purchased many products for puppies and you have the customers data in your website, later on after one year or 6 months, you can email the same customer to offer products for adult dogs because his/her puppy should be grown by that time. This is only one of the advantages and you can develop many other things with big data. Another example is if you are selling consumables, based on your customers purchasing behavior you can predict when his/her last order of the product will last and by the time your data indicated that it is already consumed, you can send an email to offer a reorder.
6 You might go out of business if you do not have one
If you are following world business news, I am pretty sure that it is not new to you to hear about many big box retail stores that are laying-off workers and closing shops because they can no longer compete with large online retailers like amazon. Personally I do not see this trend going down soon. With the increasing popularity of mobile devices and IoT (Internet of Things) where many other household devices like tvs, refrigerators, cars and even the house itself having internet connection and capability to order products directly from e-commerce websites, the potential of online shopping will grow more.
If you have a physical store, an e-commerce website is a great addition. It is a lot cheaper than putting-up an actual branch and this branch (online) might even become your biggest one. If you really want to grow, you might need to study this option.