July 05, 2016

eCommerce – You can’t beat em’

With over three quarters of Australia’s approximated 15.4 million internet users now making purchases online it’s of no surprise that a large proportion of local small to medium businesses are starting to feel the pinch.

The rise of the online shopping juggernaut doesn’t look like abating in Australia either with sales on average increasing threefold each year from 2011.

“In recent years there has been a definite mental shift with consumers turning away from the traditional form of shopping, dictated by the weather, parking, queues, product supply and throngs of other people. Far gone also are the days when consumers were uncomfortable using their credit cards online or giving up their personal details to cyber-shops.”

The money Australians spend online is projected to increase by about $10 billion (yes billion) within the next five years. Consumers may still be concerned about security online, but more and more are still prepared to buy from the web. Faster delivery, easier returns policies, and many sites offering free shipping all increase the desirability of online shopping.

Considering the current lack of economic confidence it’s understandable that consumers are shopping around or ‘Google Stalking’ as we like to say. With usually low overheads running an online business is also becoming a very desirable option for start-ups who are looking to make their mark by simply running an enterprise from their lounge room.

SMB’s (Small to Medium Businesses) themselves are using the internet more to research and find suppliers (84%) and to place orders for products and services (71%).

Online sales still continues to be, in the majority, small-ticket items with high-ticket items lagging far behind by comparison. That said, the research consumers now conduct online pre-purchase spans both high and low-ticket products. Knowledge is now a much more powerful sales tool for both seller and buyer and ignorance is no longer bliss, by a long shot.

So what does this mean to local and regional businesses that are seeing more and more of their client base turning to the internet to research and make purchases.

In short, if you can’t beat them, then join them.

The options available to businesses that traditionally sold locally in-store to now also sell online are great and ever growing.

A great place to start for even the most mildly tech savvy is often an eBay outlet or hosted eCommerce website such as on offer from companies like Shopify or BigCartel. Granted these options all take percentages of sales at different stages, have ongoing flat rate monthly costs or limitations in company branding and functionality but the pros of the larger shopper numbers they can deliver far outway the cons.

Of course, the more robust solution of a self-owned and branded eCommerce website is obviously the ideal, with sales going directly to your bank account and the order notification landing directly in your inbox ready to fulfil. While this option can often seem the most daunting it is definitely in reality far from the case.

Having a company website, whether simply a branded information resource or online shop, is now becoming a must for the majority of SMB’s anyway. While websites aren’t for every business, (Facebook and social media platforms are fantastic tools for businesses like hairdressers and coffee shops), they are now necessary tools that should be considered and built into business models of even the smallest start-up.

In the end though the only thing that is guaranteed, for not just the onliners but any business, is change. Embrace it or get left behind.

Trent Siddharta

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