Since the rise of the internet as an everyday utility in almost every house and office in the world, people have been striving to make the most of the online services available from the comfort of their own home.
Over the past decade we’ve seen these services advance in leaps and bounds; from online television on demand, streaming movie services such as Netflix and online gaming, however the most prevalent service available to those with an internet connection is the ability to shop online.
The Ascent of the Armchair Shopper
Whereas pre-internet consumers would struggle to visit numerous shops to purchase the goods that they need or want, customers now have the opportunity to peruse stores at their leisure, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
In 2009 the top ten global retailer’s online sales alone accounted for a staggering $1.15 trillion, with a vast amount of this income being diverted from direct over-the-counter purchases in physical stores to online sales. This in turn illustrates that these statistics show that high street sales are falling at a rapid rate, whilst online sales continue to climb at an unbelievable pace. Based on the 2016 landscape for B2B e-commerce platforms, e-commerce shows promise for the future of the sales industry as the virtual relationship between buyer and seller evolves and improves.
Competition and Price Comparison
The average consumer is turning to online shopping over visiting physical stores for several reasons; first and foremost is the ease and convenience of utilizing a company’s e-commerce website. Rain, hail or snow, whether it be 8 pm or 2 am, 24/7, the online retail industry is always open. The consumer can visit several stores simultaneously, and instead of having to walk or travel possible long distances between retailers, they find that the stores they need are virtually next door to one another.
This is also a benefit to the consumer as they can instantly shop around for the best deal on the products they desire, whether they simply choose a number of stores to compare in their browser, or if they decide to use a shopping comparison website such as the Shopping feature built-in to the Google search engine.
Taking Advantage of Your Niche Market
This ability of the consumer being allowed to instantly compare prices is both a blessing and a curse to the retailer – if they have invested in an online store and relevant SEO services, they can have their products found by millions of consumers whom may have otherwise never chosen their store initially. This is can be of benefit to the retailer, especially if they have great value products, or unique items that are perhaps part of a niche market that is difficult to sell on the high street.
Information is Key
The average contemporary consumer will also presume that a reputable retailer will have an online presence. Even if a fully-functioning store is not available to the customer, they will often require a retailer’s website for information such as store opening times, and contact addresses, therefore an online presence is more than just a luxury in these internet-centric times.
Low Overheads and Online Utilities
Another bonus to the retailer in investing in an online store is the low overheads in comparison to running business from a physical property. A domain name and server space package costs far less than the rent and maintenance of a physical store, not to mention the staff costs can be minimal in comparison.
As a customer obviously never physically visits an online store, there is also no need for costly overheads such as liability insurance. For example, if a high street salon desired to make extra income by selling their professional hair care products online, they needn’t invest in salon insurance as they wouldn’t be dealing with the consumer directly, only online.
If we take the salon as an example again, another benefit of a strong online presence and website is the ability to allow customers to utilize functions such as online appointment booking and advice via email before visiting the salon, which can save the company much needed time and receptionist funds.
The overall benefits of investing in an online presence and perhaps an e-commerce website for your retail company are almost endless, as technology advances on a daily basis. From saving much needed funds, becoming part of the online competition to giving your company a solid online base for customers to visit for vital information, online retail is now compulsory for any company that wishes to stay ahead of the game, especially given the current economic climate. Are you ready to take your business into the digital market? Check out these 25 tips to boost your e-commerce sales.