There are many good to trading online, and whether you are an existing business or a brand-new enterprise, the advantages of eCommerce in 2020 are worth a closer look.
The world is moving online.
Even if you have previously considered eCommerce as a potential business model in the past, and decided it wasn’t right for you then – times and circumstances change (none more so that this year) and now is very much the right time to take another look.
In the USA, in 2019, online sales of retail goods were worth over $365 billion and were expected to be even more in 2020.
In the UK, in 2017 and 2018, retail eCommerce sales were worth almost 18% of all retail trade, and internet sales grew to over £17 billion in 2019.
Under current circumstances, predictions of absolute sales figures for 2020 should perhaps be seen with a cautious eye, but one fact is clear – the percentage of sales that will be transacted online in 2020 will be far higher than both previous expectations and previous years.
In fact, although customers and their needs are always changing, we have still seen this happen faster in 2020 than at any previous time.
For this reason, Splento has produced a free report on brand engagement, explaining what you can do to engage or re-engage your customers in this post-pandemic world.
It’s completely free and is downloadable by clicking below:
The advantages of eCommerce are many and here we are going to split them into 3 broad categories:
- Lower running costs
- Easy scaling
- Incredible customer engagement
There are many different types of eCommerce and not all of these will apply to every circumstance of course, but most of these are common to all, whether you are a new business setting up, or an established one looking to expand.
So let’s now review the advantages of eCommerce in 2020 and find out whether selling remotely may be just what you need to know about right now.
The 2020 eCommerce advantage of Lower Running Costs
There’s no doubt, running costs of eCommerce are lower than traditional high street retailing; here are a few of the reasons why:
Low start-up costs
ECommerce businesses can be started from scratch with very little overhead, or in some cases, no layout at all. If you are selling a tangible product, then usually there will be investment needed, but not as much as you may think. If your product is a service, then that’s even better for you.
Many new traders can begin with a small initial stock of a product and increase this as the business develops. Some products are sold without stock even being carried at all. This is not a new business model, but recently the idea has been ‘rebranded’ and is now referred to as ‘dropshipping’.
Usually, though, you will have an initial stock, so some cost is inevitable. Aside from the product, you’ll need some storage, but without a need to display it for sale. Traditional high street retail has massive start-up costs related to premises (size of store, location, staff) so by comparison, an eCommerce retail set up is practically nothing.
Instead of a store, you will need to advertise your products – you’ll need some high-quality product photography – even if your business is a service or other intangible. But again, this can be far less expensive than you may think – take a look here for more info on quality product photography.
For selling your product, you can create your own website (again, this can be done for almost no outlay) and you’re all good to go! Alternatively, you can begin by using an existing online selling platform and there are many to choose from – Amazon, Shopify, Etsy, eBay… the list goes on.
Online shop platforms are the more common beginners’ arena, they have low-cost entry points, and some are even free – even if only for a trial period.
They also have the advantage of handling payments for you and some (such as Amazon) will even handle storage and distribution as well.
Whichever business model is the right one for you, they all offer you the opportunity of a low-cost eCommerce startup.
Another huge advantage of eCommerce is the fact that your online store is always available – even when you are at home or asleep.
Websites are there for when the customer wants them. 24/7 and 365 days a year. You are always open for business! Imagine the costs involved for traditional outlets who offer this. It costs you nothing to be available whenever you are needed.
Low staff costs
A small eCommerce business can often be run by one or two people. This is a huge advantage as it saves on salaries and other staffing issues. And when you do need a few more hands-on-deck, depending on what you need, many times this can be sourced online as well. Recent need to work remotely means that many jobs have already adapted to functioning online. So, whether you need admin, designers, accountants (to name a few) you can source virtual workers from anywhere in the world. And these don’t need to be full-time, many offer services as gig workers.
Even low-cost remote product photography is available. Splento is currently offering a whole range of remote services online, including remote product photography and even online professional portraits.
Today, everything can be sourced online, tracked online and supplied online. ECommerce offers you the advantage of controlling every aspect of your business remotely, from home, from a single laptop or even a smartphone. And with this sudden adaptation to online video and audio communicating, everyone is now comfortable and familiar with meetings, training and even job interviews being conducted remotely.
The 2020 eCommerce advantage of Easy Scaling
Once you are up and running, and it is time to grow, eCommerce offers the advantage of never-before-seen scaling opportunities. Expanding a business (especially retail) used to be a long-planned, risky step requiring huge capital outlay. Now it is not.
Expanding your current business
Whether you are currently trading online or traditional retail, eCommerce offers the advantage of expansion and a great way to build your brand into new markets.
In the same way that eCommerce is a low-cost solution for starting a new enterprise, so it offers the same advantages in 2020 for existing businesses to expand.
This could be by increasing your customer base – marketing to new groups, geographic areas and so on. Online marketing has a whole range of tools at zero-to-low expense. Email marketing (subject to appropriate privacy laws) and social media marketing is booming in 2020 like never before, and there’s plenty of room for everyone. And by selling on a wide platform such as Amazon, you have access to millions of potential customers instantly.
Alternatively, you could instead increase your range of products that you offer to your existing clients. As we have seen above, launching a new product, or even an entire range, can now be a relatively straightforward project, without a great initial outlay.
Expansion into international markets
ECommerce is unique in that it simultaneously expands your market opportunities to cover the whole globe, whilst at the same time makes the world a much smaller place!
A huge eCommerce advantage in 2020 and beyond is the ability to sell to anyone in the world, anytime, regardless of where you happen to be physically based. If you are selling a physical product, international shipping has never been cheaper. Alternatively, finding storage and local distribution overseas is now as simple as clicking a mouse button, if that is the way you need to go.
Wider stock range – without storage headaches
We’ve already mostly covered this earlier, but the dropshipping model (or variations on it that you can adapt to your own business) means wider product lines and zero storage requirements.
Even if you do have physical stock yourself, platforms such as Amazon, and others, will store your product lines within their own warehouses and handle all shipping for you as orders come in. Obviously, they take a payment for this, however, these costs are far lower than physically doing it all yourself. Plus, you are not paying wages to staff for managing stock, property, packing, shipping and so on – you are paying for these services as and when a sale is made.
The 2020 eCommerce advantage of Customer Engagement
Aside from the ground we have already covered in this review, probably the biggest advantage of eCommerce in 2020 and the future is the ability to engage with customers in ways that were previously not possible.
ECommerce is not new. Customer engagement is not new. But from early 2020, what we have experienced is a mass-shift of consumers to almost exclusively online living. Many who previously shied away from using modern technology for communications, shopping and entertainment now find it a normal part of everyday life.
In the modern world, customer data is one of the most valuable commodities. At the same time, there has never been more of it available (observing all relevant laws regarding data protection and privacy, of course).
Aside from individual’s data, there is information on trends, fashions and analysis on every conceivable market, so conducting research before a product launch can be incredibly accurate and informative.
When we come to considering individual consumer’s data, there are limitless ways to get useful information to then tailor your product and marketing to appeal; we will dwell more on that in a moment.
Using customer data, you can personalise the shopping experience for them; when a customer (or even just a browser) visits your online store, you can personalise the experience for them with recommendations of similar or complementary products, customer reviews, offers of advice or even live chat query handling. Whole web pages can be customised for each individual based on their geographic location or previous purchases.
Take a few moments to read about immersive marketing and content experience.
One eCommerce advantage that is difficult to leverage in the ‘real’ world is retargeting.
Most customers who browse an eCommerce site do not purchase straight away – they are browsing, after all. Retargeting is an eCommerce tool that then keeps reminding that person about your product and nudging them to return back to your store.
It uses technology to trigger adverts and information for the products the customer browsed in your store when they are elsewhere online later on (using social media, or any website that carries advertising).
It works powerfully to bring people back to items they were thinking about purchasing earlier and is a great conversion optimiser.
Engaging customers, rather than just leaving them to browse your online store, is perhaps one of the most underused, yet powerful, advantages eCommerce offers.
Engagement drives business and at the same time can be utilised to gather more data from customers, which in turn enables more accurate and successful marketing strategies later on.
A simple pop-up asking for an email address in exchange for information, or a gift, can start an online experience for the customer that can even be personalised as it progresses.
Surveys, opinion polls, live webchats, requests for product reviews or even just comments are all incredible engagement tools. Most online businesses either do not use these tools at all; if they do, many will just collect an email address and even then, do nothing with it.
Customer engagement is what is going to define the success, or failure, of many online businesses in 2020 and beyond.
Even online, people like to conduct business with companies that ‘feel’ human. Especially at the moment (early 2020), this is becoming increasingly important to them.
Engagement and content experience provide this.
Read about marketing trends for 2020 for some more ideas about consumer-led marketing.
Take advantage of eCommerce yourself
Within the limited scope of this article, we have only just begun to scratch the surface of the subject of the advantages of eCommerce on 2020, but we hope that it has provided some food for thought and prompted you to investigate in greater depth.
Check here to discover for yourself how simple it is to make a booking.
Finally, what if you already have your photos taken and they just need a retouch to bring them up to the high standard you need? Easy – take a look at the Splento retouch service, which will give you high-quality photographs, with editing for just 49p per photo.
If you are thinking of expanding or starting a new business at this time, we hope that all the many advantages of eCommerce in 2020 will serve you well.
Contact Splento if you are in need of: