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Using e-Commerce to Support your Brick and Mortar Sales

March 11, 2019

If one thing is certain it is that the Internet has changed how the world conducts business. Gone are the days where all sales were done with a handshake and a smile. 

Now someone can order a crock pot over the Internet and have it at their doorstep in less than 48 hours. So where does that leave stores that have yet to establish a presence online? Have no fear establishing an e-commerce website is easier now than ever before. Here are some things to keep in mind when deciding if you should sell products online.

Can your products ship? If you design handmade or repurposed furniture your shipping costs are going to be a lot higher than if you sell t-shirts. Amazon has changed customer’s expectations when it comes to shipping. In order to compete in a crowded space online business owners now I have to offer free shipping or better value. Would you pay to ship and wait seven days for that handmade made country chic crib? Perhaps. If you’re selling something small like aromatherapy oils or jewelry consider offering free shipping.

Where is the best place to start selling online? Amazon, eBay, Etsy, and many others have the ability to reach a lot of potential customers. You have to decide first who your customers are and if they would consider searching for your product on any one of those platforms. A rare collectible is more likely to be found on eBay than on Amazon. Another factor is listing and selling fees. Each platform has its own business model for helping potential vendors such as yourself sell products online. Some are more expensive than others.

Another option is to also sell on your own website. For that, there are some great do-it-yourself e-commerce websites that provide the necessary tools and hosting options for novice web designers. This “plug and design” model is the standard for most web hosting sites. Wix, Squarespace, and Shopify stand out as leaders but every day new sites emerge that cater to niche markets for restaurants, hair salons, artists, and event organizers that require more unique functions.

At the end of the day, customer value is how to win. Building a website or selling on Etsy won’t mean a whole lot if you don’t have time you’ve dedicated to building and managing customer relationships. The old school principle for business success still applies even on the Internet. Be sure you are taking care of your customers’ needs online because it’s easier now for them to consider your competition.

 “Business Tips” was written by Alejandro Castañon, Business Development Specialist of Angelo State University’s Small Business Development Center.  For more information on the topic of this article or the services of the ASU · SBDC, contact her at Alejandro.Castanon@angelo.edu.

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