Making up around 12% of the global goods trade, eCommerce is on the rise and it positions start-ups and SMEs on a more equal footing with larger companies than ever before. Here are the five benefits of eCommerce for SMEs.
1. Global reach
eCommerce provides an opportunity to break free of the limitation that physical outlets impose, enabling SMEs to sell their items of inventory stock to the world. eCommerce can expand SME networks across geographical borders to reach a greater number of countries.
Consumers research products online to gather information and compare the many options available. Search engine optimisation can therefore be used effectively to boost an SMEs visibility to potential customers across the globe.
2. Low barriers to trade
With lower barriers to new entrants, new eCommerce businesses account for around 20 percent of annual online sales. eCommerce has also helped to break down barriers by providing a way for developing countries, young entrepreneurs, rural workers and women to participate in international trade.
With the advancement in internet technologies, an online presence can be setup at a fraction of the cost of a physical store. This allows start-ups and SMEs to set up online with a minimal investment in eCommerce solutions.
3. Cost savings
An eCommerce store requires complete automation of the purchasing process, undertaking check-out, invoicing and payment processing, thus reducing the need for additional staff to manage these aspects of the business.
Small business inventory management software that automates and manages inventory stock for an online store will help SMEs save on operational costs and on time.
Online eCommerce also offers relatively low-cost engagement with existing customers and promoting the business to countless potential new customers. SMEs can save on the often-prohibitive costs of traditional advertising and marketing activities.
Automating as many administrative tasks as possible is key to improving your cash flow and eCommerce by nature is an automated shopping experience which can help generate a flow of short-term revenue. Because your online doesn’t sleep, customers can shop from anywhere at any time, at their own convenience.
Drop-shipping options can free-up cash that would otherwise spent on inventory stock. Money that may previously been invested in a physical store can now be used in other areas of the business.
5. Information at your fingertips
The information generated through online sales provides SMEs an easy way to evaluate the effectiveness of any sales campaign, measure the success of marketing campaigns and of other customer engagement initiatives.
Analysis of data helps SMEs understand the spending patterns of customers to better meet customer needs and offer them suitable products every time they visit the online store.
Likewise, detailed information is at the fingertips of existing and potential customers. You can provide easy access to in-depth information about every product you sell in your online store, which can be a great tool help attract and retain customers.
Success in eCommerce
For SMEs to succeed online, they need to ensure fluidity throughout the entire eCommerce chain. This means more than just establishing a business online. SMEs must have items of inventory stock ready to ship as soon as a customer places an order.
International payment methods need to be set up, relationship established with freight and shipping companies to ensure timely deliveries domestically and internationally. In addition, SMEs need to determine how they will manage after-sales services.
Tips for success
Whether you are looking to move online or already have an established site, your business will need to carefully manage the following aspects of your Internet presence:
- Ensure you have a professionally presented and visually aesthetic site
- Host only well-written and well-presented content and images. This material should comprehensively showcase your products and inventory catalogue
- Have your descriptive material optimised for search engine consumption. Internet searches are the lifeblood of your eCommerce business
- Be responsive to the queries of potential customers. The online world moves fast and customers may simply move on to a different site if you are slow to respond
- Respect your customers’ security and privacy by having a secure payment system
Don’t be afraid to get professional support where you need to in order to maximise the chances of online success. Pay attention to stock control and be aware that some businesses and products are not well-suited to eCommerce.
Ultimately, the test for an SME in eCommerce is the ability of the business to deliver quality products, quickly and efficiently to the anywhere their customers are, across the globe.