E-commerce is booming. There’s been double digit growth year after year, with last year’s online sales totaling $314.7 billion. That motivates a lot of people to try their hand at running an online store – but according to Forbes magazine, more than 80 percent of these new businesses will fail.
Why does this happen? While there are many things to be said about e-commerce website design, product & service offering selection, and a comprehensive marketing plan, there’s one must have item that seldom gets discussed: the aspiring retailer’s ability and willingness to put the effort into running their store.
An online store is a store. It requires every bit as much work, oversight, and upkeep as a traditional brick and mortar location. Today’s customer has finely tuned expectations of what an online shopping experience should be. According to research from Incapsulate, 80% of shoppers will leave an e-commerce site forever if the homepage doesn’t please them. Keeping an e-commerce site fresh, with new content, imagery and colors is every bit as important as rearranging the displays in a brick and mortar store is – yet only a small percentage of online store owners undertake this very necessary work.
What You Do Behind The Scenes Drives Sales
Successfully operating an e-commerce site requires both retailing prowess and technical know-how. Understanding what your customers want is step one, knowing what you need to do to make that happen is step two. For example, there’s no arguing that customers want websites to load very quickly, preferably in two seconds or less. As the store owner, you don’t have to know the actual steps to improve page load speeds, but you do need to be consistently aware of how your site performs and what to say to your web developer when you need a problem fixed.
60% of E-commerce Sales Happen On Mobile Devices
It is impossible to overstate how important smartphones and mobile devices have become to all types of retail. A recent study from GE Capital Bank found that 81 percent of all customers research purchases online before buying. This research generally happens on a smartphone, and can include social media and website visits. Making sure potential customers find accurate, appealing information that motivates them to do business with you is an ongoing process, requiring fresh content appearing at least weekly. Finding, creating and posting content is a time consuming process, but it yields rich rewards in terms of attracting new customers and reminding existing customers why they like to do business with you.
Hard Work Pays Off: That’s the E-commerce Secret
For the entrepreneur who’s willing to educate themselves and work hard, e-commerce has almost unlimited potential. Remember that $314.7 billion in sales? Part of that money could be yours. Working with a SCORE Westchester mentor is a good way to objectively determine the viability of your proposed online store, and the process of developing a business plan can help you identify the people you want to work with as your business grows.
For more information on growing your own e-commerce business please join us June 28th at 6pm for Insider Tricks to Running Your Online Store with Jennifer Shaheen, the Technology Therapist. During this workshop you will learn what you need to know to launch and run a successful e-commerce business. Discover how to attract customer attention, build lasting relationships, and streamline the path to purchase. This is must have information for anyone interested in running a successful online store.