The retail world is a dynamic entity and SMEs are coming to realise the power and value of adopting and maintaining an eCommerce strategy. Entering the online retail space is a cost-effective endeavour that can increase revenue while boasting low overheads, and it has a relatively easy set-up. However, there are some points that should be considered for maximum impact and to enhance your customers’ experience so that the whole endeavour adds value to your business rather than detracting from it. Here we highlight some key tips on setting up eCommerce for an SME.
It is important to ensure you treat your SME as if it was a Fortune 500 company, giving it the same respect and adopting the same processes. All too often, it is easy to view your SME as a hobby or something you do part-time, on the side, especially when it is not generating millions in revenue, yet. However, it is important, for both optimal business decision-making and for the experience you provide to your customers, to view your company like the big business you hope it will become.
Integrate your channels
Big players in the ecommerce industry offer a seamless integration between online and brick-and-mortar stores, which has created an expectation for customers that must be met. It is imperative for your eCommerce strategy to include a seamless experience between your website and your physical store to allow your customers multiple options of ordering and delivery, ordering and click-and-collect, transparent availability at stores and an easy and well laid-out brick-and-mortar store. To do this, there needs to be understanding and dedication to what is expected by current consumers, as well as the support of well-designed and reliable software. Basically, any promise of a product being available in-store from a customer’s perusal online, must be fulfilled. If there are discrepancies between information on the website and what is evident in-store, a customer will leave dissatisfied.
The same is true of ensuring your website is fully functional on a mobile device. In fact, 80% of customers use a mobile phone, even when in-store, to consult reviews and make price or availability comparisons according to OuterBoxDesign. Given the prolific use of eCommerce channels, it is worth taking the time to ensure your strategy is effective and functioning at its best.
eCommerce software support
The great thing about being an SME and delving into the eCommerce world is that you are not expected to go it alone. There are several consultants available as well as a host of software options to ensure the set-up and integration into your current business model is as smooth as possible. One particular area to pay attention to is inventory management; this relates to the statement we made earlier about avoiding overpromising and underdelivering. It is essential to ensure anything your website states as being available both in the warehouse or in-store, is in fact available.
Reliability is a key requirement to build brand loyalty and keep customers coming back. Inventory management software can provide the support you need to ensure your warehouse and shipping department is integrated with both your website and your physical stores so that when a purchase is made from either the online store or brick-and-mortar store, the inventory counts are updated in real-time. This takes the headache out of having to explain to customers that something is not available or having to do constant stock counts in multiple locations, which could still be fraught with error.
Customers will often make their purchase choices based on what shipping options are available. Therefore, is important to consider what is the most cost-effective and simplest for the customer as reliability, ease-of-use and price are all powerful persuaders when it comes to retail. Consider having real-time shipping quotes available, even if this option costs more to integrate into your website, as the certainty and speed of quotes will go a long way with consumers. Likewise, it could be worthwhile to spend time researching the most cost-effective and reliable shipping companies to provide a broad range of reasonable and transparent shipping options at checkout.
Don’t be afraid of going international
The international market can be lucrative however many SMEs avoid going international due to the legal constraints and greater risks posed. However, if a little time is spent researching and consulting expertise to set-up a robust international eCommerce strategy, you will undoubtedly reap the rewards.
As with any business endeavour, it pays to research properly and consider the benefits, pitfalls, tried-and-true tips and tools that may be available. However, do not let this process dissuade you from trying to get your SME eCommerce business up and running as it can be a great addition to your brand.