E-commerce is the way forward
E-commerce has changed the entire scenario of how shoppers are shopping and sellers are selling in this virtually connected and physically disconnected world. Coming from a small town in Central India I have bought some amazing quality jams and pickles from a seller in Mumbai, children merchandise from a seller in Delhi and what not! Remembering the time back in 2012 when I had placed my first order on Amazon; my hands were literally shaking while entering the CVV. There was this strange fear that I had back then of losing money on online shopping. But ten years down the line the world has changed so fast. Online shopping which in earlier days was a luxury has now become a necessity. COVID-19 pandemic actually sped up the E-Commerce business. Today India has emerged as the global leader in real-time payments. To be precise in the financial year 2021, India recorded over 40 billion digital transactions worth more than quadrillion Indian rupees across the country.
E-Commerce for small businesses
Let us take a deeper dive into the entire concept.
What is E-Commerce?
In simpler words E-Commerce is buying and selling of goods and merchandise online through an electronic medium. Online shopping goes directly in reach of consumers through different mobile applications and websites. The availability of thousands of options in front of the user has expanded the shopping world enormously. Sellers in the online E-Commerce business also have a lot of benefits. Let us take a closer look at the pros and understand how small enterprises and customers are benefiting through E-Commerce in 2022.
1. A quicker decision making helps both buyers and sellers
A customer who goes to the market to see some electronic item and not being able to find a satisfactory option definitely checks for more options that are available online. Practically with and dearth of time, increasing traffic hours, longer checkout queues and never-ending parking issues during rush hours has attracted more and more customers toward online shopping. The buyers are browsing easily through many items at a single time and they make hassle free purchasing decisions. The easy comparison option also acts like a cherry on the cake for today’s modern-day shoppers who looks for a product at different sites but keeps juggling their choices. Small scale E-Commerce business indirectly saves a lot of money and time through this.
Online marketplaces also offer special prices that include timely home deliveries. Through online shopping customers are becoming more informed than ever. With detailed descriptions, high-quality photographs, reviews and feedbacks customers add items to the cart once they are extremely sure about the product. In case of doubt the E-Commerce platforms also offer free pickups on returns, exchange and replacement options as well. All of this happens in no time at all. Towards the end the buyers are also benefiting because once the system is set up the buyer doesn’t actually need to repeat the entire process. After this the entire focus can be in retaining the customers. This entire automated system helps in saving a lot of time.
2. E-Commerce helps in creating a trustworthy brand for small enterprise
With product codes like EAN, UPC, ISBN or ASIN a seller can create a listing of their product that helps a customer to identify the product online. The small enterprise owners can add multiple high-quality images, a genuine elaborative description, product category, price of the product, shipping fee and delivery date. This way through one time effort a seller can create entire information listing for their products. They can also include satisfactory customer testimonials that helps in creating a trustworthy brand value. Offline shopping instead provides only some details about the product. The stores also lack in sharing reliable feedbacks and after-sale services.
Easy sales strategies further help in increasing online sales of small businesses. Upselling and cross selling are the easiest ones to be thought of. Upselling is a sales strategy that involves offering products that is directly related to the products the customer has just selected to buy. Up-scaling provides a list of products with very low cost and complements the purchase made. Though with a small amount but it increases the cart value. Cross-selling on the other hand encourages customers to spend more money by giving them choices like – “You may also like”, “Wear with this”, “Perfect match with”, “Why don’t you go pro”. For a small business it is of utmost importance to understand the analytics behind their sales. E-Commerce websites through trend analysis ensures the stock levels of the fast-selling items and also helps in studying the product’s diversification.
3. A small enterprise saves money by stepping into E-Commerce
One of the biggest advantages of E-Commerce to small businesses is cost reduction. The cost of setting up an E-Commerce website is also lower than that of offline businesses. With high rental and real-estate costs sellers land up paying an enormous amount of money for their physical stores. Most times even after spending a considerable amount on routine maintenance, aesthetics, sale offers, and customer relationship staff; sellers cannot receive desired profits and return on their investments.
With an E-Commerce store, a small store seller can come online and still earn an income without actually requiring huge start-up capital. The only time-consuming task is to create an automation system for the business. According to India Brand Equity Foundation the Indian E-commerce market is expected to grow to US$111.40 billion by 2025 from US$46.2 billion as of 2020. By 2030, it is expected to reach US$350 billion. The exponential increase in the industry has happened by an upsurge in internet and smartphone penetration. And as a small-scale business owner it becomes imperative to utilise this opportunity and seek for profits. With changing trends even, a small homegrown boutique can definitely fetch reliable customers from worldwide.
Product quality should never be compromised in E-Commerce sales
4. Affordable advertising, marketing and robust payment systems is all that a small business sometimes needs
An advantage that comes with E-Commerce websites is the easy affordable advertising and marketing options. Sellers online really don’t have to spend a lot of money to promote their items. E-Commerce marketplaces are visual channels that heavily rely on user feedback and reviews. Advertising through an influencer marketplace is another dominant medium to promote the items depending on a seller’s spending capacity. The third-party marketing calls, providing promo codes, creating customized deals for new members, and sponsored ads are some strategies that work in favor of positive advertising. Many E-Commerce marketplaces also offer customer insight tools that provide information related to orders that are pending, unshipped, sent, canceled, or returned. As a changing trend now, a seller can easily analyze their region-specific buyers and other customer behavior.
There is no doubt that E-Commerce market offers higher margins and better cash flows. For a business involved in sales within the trade industry an e-commerce website actually allows the seller to sell at relatively better margins. This makes the profits on products even higher. The payment options on websites improve the cash flow, particularly when many offline customers request payments in several installments. Today there are multiple reliable payment systems in the market that a seller can choose some of which includes Paypal, Google Checkout, Paytm, BharatPe and more. Trusted payment gateways benefit both the customers and sellers.
Not only this the E-Commerce platforms also take care of buyers who want personalization in their shopping. To make the shopping experience affordable and accessible for all the groups cash-on-delivery, permitting multiple payment modes that include UPI, net banking, EMIs on credit or debit cards, and pay-later credit facility is now integrated during the checkout options.
Merging different payment modes and wallets creates a digitally inclusive shopping environment which is extremely beneficial for small enterprises. Because of this, the small-scale sellers now no longer have to lose a potential sales opportunity because of a lack of payment modes.
5. Flexibility for customers and sellers
E-Commerce businesses come with the flexibility of location and purchasing decisions. To sell and enable transactions the enterprise owners just need a robust technology platform to oversee their business. Another important advantage that E-Commerce provides is the flexibility to its customers 24*7 to make a choice, check details, and do the payments however they like. Since a lot of sales that happen on online medium requires good recommendations and feedbacks, hence buyers can actually focus on retaining their customers by providing excellent after-sale service. With offers including free shipping (usually on a minimum cart value), express order delivery, deals, and discounts the small buyers can increase their sales organically. This eventually helps a small enterprise to get identified on a global platform for their best-selling items.
With a physical store, a seller has a few local buyers but once the enterprise is online, then the sky is the limit for businesses. Today several E-Commerce marketplaces have their own logistics and delivery system. Sellers are expanding their warehouses, packaging, and material systems to expand their sales to new customers almost daily. No wonder India is expected to have 500 million online shoppers by 2030.
There are millions of stories of hard work and passion that are available on the internet.
Today with easy-to-use mobile applications customers are feeling empowered like never before. And to take a thorough analysis into this subject is very important for every small-scale business owner. The growing consciousness in consumer behavior and spending capacities is very important for any owner who is planning to expand. The opportunity of taking businesses online has helped many small and big enterprises positively. The businesses that came in early definitely got an edge over their competitors. From understanding the logistics to payment methodologies; the E-Commerce revolution actually came in as a technological boon and gave exponential growth to millions of people in the retail market. We should also not forget that the E-Commerce business model also survives a lot on user recommendations, ratings, and feedback.
While entrepreneurs now have more options to start their business ventures because of the internet and they can go global with just a click but let us not forget that the main rule of wealth-building still relies on quality over quantity which is always achieved by keeping customers at the top of the pyramid! E-Commerce is the thing for such thought-builders.
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