Running an eCommerce store can be challenging. There are many things to consider before taking the plunge into online or multichannel selling. However, for retailers looking to expand beyond their brick-and-mortar stores, eCommerce offers new opportunities that traditional retail can’t provide — untapped scalability along with global visibility and reach.
To avoid costly missteps when transitioning to eCommerce, it’s essential to understand the many nuances of eCommerce operations and the tools and resources your business needs to thrive in an online environment. In this article, we’ll talk about how to navigate the ever-evolving eCommerce landscape while highlighting tips you can follow to maximize your business’s chance of success.
- How Does eCommerce Differ From Brick-and-Mortar Retail?
- Understanding the Different eCommerce Business Types
- The Recipe for a Successful eCommerce Website
- How to Market Your eCommerce Business Effectively
- The Importance of Streamlined Fulfillment Processes
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How Does eCommerce Differ From Brick-and-Mortar Retail?
Though in-store and online retail operations have been closely associated in recent years, they are, in fact, very different business models.
For one thing, running an eCommerce business requires a different skill set than when running brick-and-mortar retail because the two types of companies have different logistical needs and operate under entirely separate legal frameworks.
In addition to that, there’s also the simple fact that stock management processes such as inventory management and outbound fulfillment for online businesses typically follow completely different procedures than what brick-and-mortar enterprises use.
Another thing to consider is that brick-and-mortar retail is restricted by physical location, whereas eCommerce is largely unconstrained. This creates near-limitless opportunities for eCommerce entrepreneurs to reach any audience they choose, but not without the risk of increased competition.
Understanding the Different eCommerce Business Types
Before dipping into eCommerce, it’s essential to recognize the various types of online business and fulfillment models to choose from. Most commonly, these are considered B2B, B2C, B2G, and B2B2C. Below we’ll explain the differences between each of these formats.
B2B (Business to Business) –
B2B, or Business to Business eCommerce, involves trading goods and services between businesses instead of individuals or direct consumers. The B2B model can be an online marketplace for companies engaged in the distribution chain, manufacturers buying components or other supplies, or retailers selling to wholesalers.
B2C (Business to Consumer) –
B2C, or Business to Customer eCommerce, involves traditional online sales models where a company sells products directly to end-users. This type of eCommerce business is usually driven by company websites enabling the purchase of goods directly from company-owned web domains and through third-party listings on mass merchant marketplaces.
B2G (Business to Government) –
B2G, or Business to Government eCommerce, encompasses the buying and selling of products between businesses and government entities. B2G eCommerce has many applications for healthcare, defense, education, retail, finance, travel/tourism, organic foods, etc. B2G is expected to grow significantly in the next several years as demand for online purchasing capabilities expands in the public sector.
B2B2C (Business to Business to Consumer) –
B2B2C, or Business to Business to Consumer eCommerce, is best described as an “end to end” eCommerce business model. B2B2C models generally function via online channels, trading between businesses and consumers through a multi-sided platform. Businesses can transact with other businesses on one side of the platform, while consumers can sell or purchase goods and services on the opposite side.
The Recipe for a Successful eCommerce Website
When starting your own online business, it is crucial to create a successful website to attract potential customers. In many cases, this includes getting the little things right, just as much as it is about solving the bigger issues. The site must be easy to navigate and provide clear contact information in the event of trouble or questions. It should also have credible product information, including specifications and informative pictures.
One of the best ways to get started with an eCommerce website is choosing a popular shopping cart service. Popular shopping carts, like Shopify and BigCommerce, make it easy to build your site because they provide all the necessary tools you need to transact business from start to finish.
One of the most important things to have when building an online store is a dependable customer service system that will ensure customers are satisfied with their shopping experience. If you do not have the resources or staff to handle this part of the business, consider using a program like Zendesk or Freshdesk to ensure customers have an enjoyable experience.
How to Market Your eCommerce Business Effectively
First impressions can significantly influence a customer’s decision in whether or not they will purchase from your online store, so the website must have an attractive and professional design that is consistent throughout all pages of the site. After this point, you can begin exploring all the different types of marketing strategies that you can use to drive traffic and increase your online sales.
To gain a competitive advantage in the market, you need to understand what makes your business unique. To accomplish this, you need to define your products and services’ key features and benefits that will entice customers’ interest. Once you have determined these aspects, include them throughout your site, whether on your homepage, product pages, or contact page.
Many successful eCommerce websites also utilize tracking analytics, which are tools that help you gain insight into your user behavior. Studying the data provided by these analytics tools makes it easier to figure out how visitors “move through” your site. This can be broken down into pages they visit, time spent on the site, and where they come from. Once you have this information, it will be easier to understand your target customers and how best to market your business.
The Importance of Streamlined Fulfillment Processes
Streamlined fulfillment processes are essential in every business, but especially in eCommerce operations. ECommerce businesses need streamlined and efficient fulfillment processes to ensure that orders can be shipped quickly and easily and with the least hassle.
When orders are automatically sent to the shipping department, it is easy to slip through the cracks or be lost in transit. A streamlined fulfillment process allows businesses to put checks and balances in place that ensure double-checking of orders and give employees required information about each order. However, when there are no automated processes in place, it is easy for an order to go unfulfilled or at least take much longer than expected.
Streamlined fulfillment processes can include automated and manual processes, and successful businesses can find the best combination to suit their needs.
This article has provided some tips on navigating the logistics of running an eCommerce store from start to finish–from choosing a popular shopping cart service and streamlining your fulfillment processes down to ensuring you have dependable customer service and impactful marketing strategies in place. While the balance between brick-and-mortar and eCommerce operations can be a challenging one to navigate, with careful planning and preparation, it’s possible to successfully transition from traditional retail formats to highly scalable and profitable eCommerce solutions.