The year 2020 will be remembered for many things, almost all negative. But it will also be remembered, in the business world, as the year of the online store. Until now, many companies had been betting heavily on eCommerce; but the pandemic has meant that for a large part of them, an online store has been the only possibility of maintaining the activity.
Thus, the usual question about the incorporation of eCommerce has changed substantially. We no longer consider the possibility of creating an online store, we consider when to do it.
This is so, mainly, because the pandemic has highlighted the importance of having a point of sale at all times, with more or less independence. But during the last months, in addition, we have seen that online sales have increased substantially, that the adoption of this system by users is increasing and that its use is becoming more frequent than the “physical” purchase by each user. In other words, we have seen how the availability of an online store increases profitability.
If we add to this the ability to generate an online presence, which is also beneficial to generate a brand and increase sales; The incorporation of eCommerce into the sales strategy of SMEs is practically mandatory.
The first thing to do before creating an online store
First of all, it is important to know the alternatives that we can have within the reach of our company. To a different extent, we all know what we mean when we talk about an online store, but in practice there are many types of eCommerce and at first, it is important to assess all the alternatives to make the best decision.
On the other hand, as always when we face a new project, there are a series of questions that we must be able to answer. They may seem very basic; but they are really useful at first and can guide more complex decisions later on.
In this article on the types of eCommerce we shed some light on these issues. Consult it to resolve your doubts about the types of e-commerce that exist and the first questions to ask yourself when evaluating the implementation of an online store.
Steps to design an online store
First of all, we must reflect on the business objectives that we can achieve with an online store. If it is the first experience, it can be an arduous task, but you can always use similar success stories and available studies or statistics that we can adapt based on realistic expectations.
Starting from these objectives, it will be easier to answer some of the questions that we must go on to ask ourselves.
- What type of e-commerce do I need?
Depending on the type of company and objectives, we can build a B2B or a B2C eCommerce. But there are other alternatives such as hybridizing both modalities, selling to authorities or public administrations, creating a marketplace among consumers…
- What scope is going to work.
This question is as simple as it is important. Before creating the store, we must project the areas in which it is going to be sold (or countries), which will determine other very relevant issues (currency, logistics or languages).
- What products are we going to sell and how many?
If the product catalog is very extensive, it may be a pharaonic task to bring it to the online world. For this reason, you have to think about which products or services are best to sell online, which ones can work best, which ones can be transported more easily, etc. The initial selection should be focused on maximizing benefits and reducing “problems”: there is always time to introduce new features in the catalogue.
- How the products will be shipped and where.
Previously, you have to think about the areas of action, but within them there may also be places to distribute or not. As for the shipment of products, it should be valued thoroughly because the customer is left with the feeling of the delivery man. If the delivery does not satisfy him, he will complain to your company, not to the logistics operator. Therefore, it establishes relationships of trust based on well-established issues: delivery times, products to be shipped, delivery areas, type of packaging, shipping procedure, returns management, action against loss or breakage, etc.
- How many clients do you need and what type?
The easy answer is that anything goes if you buy; but answer this question in detail about the success of your eCommerce. The type of client you are looking for will help you find them by focusing the messages, the products and the procedure on their needs; while the number will facilitate the control, monitoring and analysis of results.
- How many orders do we expect and what turnover does it entail?
You must have an idea of billing for your online store, as well as the number of orders it involves. In this way, you will be able to guide the entire strategy to satisfy those parameters that, in addition to an objective, will help you project the needs of the project.
- What forms of payment will be available.
As with shipping or scope, it is necessary to establish the payment methods that will be accepted in the store. And you must do it from the point of view of the possibilities of the company, but also taking into account the needs of your clients.
- What is the Customer Service department like?
It is absolutely essential to create (if it does not exist) a team of staff available to deal with questions, demands and complaints from customers. Similarly, they will need the tools, procedures and sufficient training to offer an excellent service (a pillar for the success of your electronic store).
- What is the communication and social media strategy.
In the online world we have established rules, but above all, there is enormous competition (probably much greater than what you can have with a physical store). For this reason, it is important to have trained and experienced personnel in matters related to content creation, design, social network management, email marketing, SEO, online advertising, photography, etc.
- How do I comply with the regulations?
Creating a good online store is an exciting but laborious journey. Of course, the benefits to be obtained can save your company in very complex moments… and make it take off to previously unthinkable levels of success.