Guest post by Helen Cartwright
The ecommerce industry continues to grow rapidly. In 2016, global ecommerce sales hit the $22 trillion mark. Customers are beginning to see the convenience of buying online, and they are even taking things a notch higher; they are shopping right from their smartphones. Many newbies want to tap into this market but have no idea where to start. If this is you, I have good news—creating an ecommerce business has never been this easy.
Is creating an online store hard?
Selling products online is not a mean feat. However, technology has made it simpler to build an online store faster than you could have ever imagined a couple of years ago. There was a time when building an ecommerce store was extremely hard. You were required to hire someone who knew how to code to create the site for you.
These types of people cost money. There is also no guarantee that the guy you hire will do a good job. They might build a sub-par site and run away with your money! Nowadays, you can do this tedious process with just a few clicks. You never have to hire website developers who you can’t afford anyway.
An ecommerce website builder enables you to build your online store with just a few clicks and can even allow you to easily sell on online marketplaces such as Amazon.
Is it expensive?
Initially, a good online store might seem a bit expensive. However, when compared to the profits you can make, that’s nothing! The online world is growing rapidly and it is directly leading to rapid growth in online sales.
Ecommerce builders will cost you between $25 and $200 per month. If you are just starting out, go for the cheaper option, enrich the website with photos widely available from various free stock photo sites. As your business continues to grow and the need to have a very high-end site arises, there will always be room to upgrade.
A hosted or a self-hosted solution?
There are essentially two ways through which you can build your ecommerce website.
- Hosted ecommerce website
- Self-hosted ecommerce website
A hosted site is suitable for those who are looking for a user-friendly solution that does not require any technical abilities. A self-hosted solution is for those who are seeking to create uncommon/unique stores that call for a more flexible approach and, consequently, demand a lot of technical know-how. Whatever platform you choose will depend on your specific needs and the expertise at your disposal.
Four benefits of building an online store
There are many marketplaces out there including Amazon, Facebook and Etsy. Why do you need to create an online store when you can just upload your products in these markets? Why do you need to go through the struggle of looking for customers when these marketplaces expose you to a larger pool of clients? To answer these questions, let’s explore the advantages of having your own store.
1. Collecting customer data
When a customer views your products on a marketplace platform and leaves without buying anything, you can consider them gone. If they visited your online store, however, you have the chance to request for their email address. The address will be essential for building your email list, whose importance is worth writing another entire article about. Marketplaces don’t even give you access to the customer’s email.
When a visitor lands on your e-commerce site, you also have the chance to reach out to them again on social media platforms and Google using a marketing method known as retargeting. Retargeting is a marketing strategy that enables you to create ads that are tailor made for people who have visited your site previously. Individuals whom you reach through this advertising model have very high chances of making a purchase.
2. Building your brand
Marketplaces provide platforms where you can easily upload products and start selling them immediately. Although this looks like a great upside at face value, it creates an even bigger problem for you. Because it is easy to set up shop in these places, they are usually crawling with sellers. Most of these sellers are your direct competitors, and since your storefronts are more or less similar, there’s no reason why a customer should buy from you and not them.
Creating your online store sets you apart from the rest. It gives you the power to control how the store looks and how the customer gets to experience it. Design matters. How you present your products shape your customer’s experience and enables you to build trust. The more the customer believes you, the higher their chances of making a purchase and coming back are.
3. Avoid the price war
Since marketplaces are crawling with sellers promoting similar products, consumers always have the upper hand. The only way that retailers can compete is by cutting prices. It is not enough that you have too many competitors already; you are forced to sell at shallow margins. Creating your store will save you from the price war. By being unique, you have already set yourself apart from the rest. The customer is no longer looking at the cost alone, and if they trust you enough, you never have to worry about price altogether.
4. Get repeat purchases
80% of your customers only contribute to 20% of your revenue. The rest (loyal customers) contribute to the largest chunk of your revenue (80%). The need for having repeat customers is apparent. To build loyal customers, you need a client database–something you can only get by having your own store. The online stores have an email marketing tool that you can use to lure customers back.