E-commerce is nothing new. On the contrary, it’s relatively ancient in the internet era. Both eBay and Amazon – the modern e-commerce giants – were formed over 25 years ago. However, the rise of e-commerce as a trend has been growing with increasing velocity over the last decade, and that is only set to increase even further following the coronavirus outbreak.
Online retailers such as Naked Wines have seen a startling increase of 81% in revenues over the past two months when compared to the same period before lockdown. On the flip side, traditional retailers such as Primark have seen their revenues fall to zero during the same period. But while this may appear to be a temporary spike in performance, the reality is that online sales are likely to remain higher than the pre-lockdown era going forward.
What does this mean for my business?
During the lockdown period, more people than ever have been forced to shop online for many goods they never would have considered before the outbreak. Now, with the realisation that it can be done online, many will continue to shop in this way and avoid the crowds of the shops. Alongside this, we’re expecting to see many workers continue to work from home more often than they were previously. This is likely to lead to an increase in online purchases, just as we have seen during the lockdown period.
Every retail business – big or small – should be planning to set-up an e-commerce arm to their organisation. It can be a daunting task to think about setting up an e-commerce store from scratch, with high marketing costs often associated with successful online businesses. But, if set up efficiently, there is no need for advertising costs to skyrocket.
So, where should you start in your pursuit of taking your business online? There are two main factors to take into account, creating your e-commerce website, and using existing e-commerce marketplaces to sell your products. For your website, there are a few good platforms specifically designed for e-commerce. The most popular of these are Shopify, WooCommerce and Magento.
Should I use Shopify, WooCommerce or Magento?
It’s a common question asked by business owners when looking to set up their online store for the first time. As you would expect, each three have their own benefits, and it’s dependent on your preferences which is best for you. Let’s take a quick look at the advantages and disadvantages of each.
To put it simply, Shopify is the most popular platform, largely because it offers the easiest user experience. Its simplistic user experience has different themes to choose from, which makes for a frictionless process. However, this comes at the expense of flexibility compared to the other two.
Magento offers much more flexibility than Shopify, which is often desired by larger businesses. The downside of Magento is that you will need more technical ability to make changes than you would on Shopify, so you may need help from a developer to make any amendments. Magento also tends to come in more expensive than the other two options.
WooCommerce offers somewhere in between the two. If you decide to go with WooCommerce, you will have more flexibility than Shopify and it will be easier to use than Magento. One of the big advantages of WooCommerce is that it is an integrated add-on to WordPress – the most used CMS in the world.
This is, of course, a very basic overview of each platform. There are more in-depth articles that identify the pros and cons of Shopify, Magento and WooCommerce, so make sure you do your research. Once you’ve decided on the platform you want to use, you may want to look at finding e-commerce web developers and a talented web designer to help you build the perfect sales-optimised site.
How can I boost my e-commerce marketplace sales?
Once you’re happy with your website, it’s worth looking into different marketplaces to take advantage of the SEO authority and huge customer bases that websites like Amazon and eBay hold. The two just mentioned are the obvious ones to join, but it’s important to research different marketplaces that may be more niche and relevant to your products.
We asked Martin Case – PeoplePerHour Academy Mentor and e-commerce expert – how he maximises sales from marketplace listings.
“Almost every marketplace sale starts with a potential consumer typing a search term into the search box. Many new sellers make the mistake of listing very basic product information to the marketplaces without researching the target market first.
Creating titles and descriptions can be hard work and time consuming. However, the marketplaces react positively to well written copy that is the correct length and keyword rich. Invest your time in creating great copy and your business will thrive.
Marketplaces rank your products based on customer behaviour and momentum. If your product doesn’t take off right away, don’t become deflated as it is perfectly normal for a new product to take some time to begin climbing the ranks. Be patient, build up your marketplace account reputation by offering the very best service and sales will begin to flourish.”
You can find freelancers to help you optimise your marketplace sales listings through our marketplace.
Diversifying your business will give you more protection when unexpected changes in the economy hit in the future. If you take the steps mentioned above, you’ll put yourself in a great position to start building your online presence.