eCommerce and Its Advantages

eCommerce is the purchase of goods and services online. Increasingly, people have been buying things online because of its speed and convenience. Nothing can beat Internet speed in the purchase of these goods over large distances, except perhaps bad weather. There are many other advantages of eCommerce both for the consumer and the online vendor.

Consumer Advantage

Online shopping saves time, money and the trouble of long lines. People never thought online shopping would thrive ever since CompuServe created the first Electronic Mall during the 1980’s. However, now it has almost become a way of life.

Buying online offers a greater selection. It gives you the power of choosing your most preferred goods in the comfort of your own home. It gives the consumer less hassle and less waste of resources. For instance, many people needed travel agents to tell them which airline offered the best flights for the most affordable prices. It’s like you had to pay double then, both for the ticket price and the travel agent. Nowadays though, with the airline’s websites, one can just browse through the best travel bargains and the click of a button does it all. There are also websites now that tell you the best bargains and help you compare rates from different airlines. Such are Travelocity and Expedia.

Another advantage of the Internet is for the consumer is that it is open all day everyday. No longer do consumers have to wait for stores to open, or hurry to catch a closing shop. One can shop for shoes anytime, even when they are at home or at work. Finally, the Internet offers a wide variety of selection that no supermall can offer. This is because it provides the consumers access to online shops from areas outside their own. This definitely provides diversity and variety of choices, again all in the comfort of your own home.

Vendor Advantages

The online businessmen too find a lot of advantages in eCommerce.

First, it saves them a lot of cost on hiring employees. What perhaps 50 salesmen can pitch, can be done by one well designed and informative website. It saves up on what was supposed to be the salary of the employees. Moreover, the Internet is not only the salesperson; it’s the delivery guy as well. With digital downloads, profit can be obtained automatically without deploying a middleman. The customer can directly purchase from the online vendor and payment transactions can just be arranged. This is rampant in music downloading sites like iTunes or online shops like Amazon.com or eBay. Profit will then double, or might even triple.

eCommerce also levels out the playing field for both big and small businesses. A small home-based company can reach as much a market as the global ones. Businesses don’t have to set up different branches in other places. A good website and good advertising technique will do it. If the vendor does his job right, that is, putting all the information needed in a compelling way, his online business will sure thrive.

eCommerce Website Promotion And Sale Ideas

No matter how successful your eCommerce website is, you should always be brainstorming for ways to improve it. Developing innovative eCommerce promotion ideas can be tough, but will ultimately pay off in dividends when implemented correctly on your eCommerce store. Offering promotions and special offers to your potential eCommerce customers is an effective method of driving ancillary traffic to your site, acquiring new customers, and growing revenue. Best of all, these promotions can also be used to encourage new visitors to become loyal, repeat customers. Many shopping cart platforms offer these eCommerce features, so take advantage of them!

Why Are Utilizing eCommerce Promotions and Special Offers Important?

The fact is, today’s online consumers are more savvy than ever. Combine that with the fact that there are more online buying options than ever before, and it’s no surprise that it can often take additional persuading to get your visitors to click that checkout button. In that context, consider your eCommerce promotions to be one of the most valuable persuasion tools available to you.

Boosting eCommerce Sales With eCommerce Promotions and Special Offers

Now that we understand the role special offers and promotions play in an eCommerce website, we’d like to share some powerfully simple promotions that we have seen work wonders for our clients. Of course, no two sites are identical, and what works in one industry may not work in another. Before implementing any of these ideas, make sure you are poised to collect any data needed to determine their effectiveness. That way, you will have tangible evidence behind your decisions and you can make permanent changes to your eCommerce store with confidence.

#1 – Free Shipping

It’s no secret that everybody loves free shipping. Additional shipping charges during the checkout process contribute to cart abandonment, also known as the achilles heel of the eCommerce website. Apart from eliminating an expense many of your visitors may be expecting, free shipping can simplify the entire sales process.

Whether you offer free shipping sitewide or limit your promotion to specific categories and products, your customers can browse confidently knowing that the prices listed are what they’ll actually pay (plus a little for Uncle Sam, when applicable). Plus, they won’t be caught off guard with additional charges when they’re ready to checkout. From a psychological perspective, you’ll be at an advantage if your visitors are confident that the price they see is an accurate representation of their final cost.

One thing worth mentioning is that your company doesn’t necessarily have to eat the shipping costs, you can simply “hide” your shipping charges by embedding them directly into the price of the product.

#2 – Percentage Based Discounts

If brick and mortar storefronts have taught us anything, it’s that everyone loves to buy things that are “on sale”, and formatting your product pages to have a “sale price” can definitely increase conversions. Consider showing two prices for any given product, the “retail” price and your “sale price”. Experiment with different terminology such as “Suggested Retail” or “MSRP” to see what works best for your store or niche.

Even though percentage based discounts have become increasingly ubiquitous on eCommerce websites, they are still quite effective. Somehow, the human brain is still more enticed to purchase a product if an artificially inflated original price has been “slashed” down to a lower amount. Experiment with different percentages depending on your profit margins to find the percentage that is most effective for you. Any reputable eCommerce shopping cart should be able to make these adjustments dynamically, either site-wide or specific to a certain category or product. Remember to keep your profit margins in mind when creating these discounts, as increases in revenue are of the most value when you are making substantial profit on each sale.

#3 – Buy Something, Get Something Else For Free

Again, everybody loves free stuff. You can setup free product giveaways if a certain product is purchased or if sales of a specific product are dwindling.

If you’d like to increase your average order value, try adding a free product if a certain dollar amount is spent. You’ll be giving your customer the impression that they’re receiving a better value, while psychologically priming them to have a positive outlook on your company after the transaction. At the same time, it will create an incentive for them to spend more money each time they frequent your site.

#4 – Quantity Discounts

Another great way to improve sales and average order value is to offer discounts based on the quantity purchased of a specific product. These discounts can be structured any number of ways, including a flat rate, a fixed percentage, or a sliding scale.

This can be especially advantageous to eCommerce websites that are looking to sell both to the average consumer as well as distributors and merchants that need to buy in bulk. You can setup your quantity discount structure such that those looking to purchase in bulk do not have to contact you directly to negotiate a price. The more automation your website has in this regard, the more labor hours your company can allot to innovation and growth.

#5 – Offering Reward Points

Offering your customers rewards point for each dollar spent is a great way to encourage visitors to become loyal, repeat customers. These reward points can be expressed in “points” or “dollar-value”, depending on what you think makes more sense for your target market. Many believe that website visitors are more enticed to spend “50 Example.com Dollars” vs “50 Example.com Reward Points”, so keep that psychology in mind when determining how to name your points system.

Getting creative with the naming of your rewards points system also presents an opportunity to strengthen your brand. For example, “Airplane Ticket Reward Points System” doesn’t have quite the same ring to it as “Frequent Flyer Miles”.

When To Use Special Offers:

While most eCommerce websites are practically always running some sort of special offer, there are certain times when special offers should especially be considered.

  1. Weekly / Monthly / Quarterly
  2. Pre-launch (of a website, of a new product, or anything else applicable)
  3. Holiday / Seasonal Promotions (Black Friday and Christmas are obvious, but also any holidays or seasons that align with your brand… e.g if you sell weight loss products, create a promotion centered around New Year’s resolutions.
  4. Abandoned Cart – Target abandoned carters via email with special offers to seal the deal.
  5. Email / Newsletter Subscription Offers – Include special offers and promotions exclusive to those on your email list. Advertise this on the site to encourage newsletter and email list signups!
  6. Social Media Engagement Incentivisation (e.g. Like us on Facebook for a 10% coupon)
  7. First Time Visitors – Create special offers for those making their first visit to your site.
  8. Customer Loyalty – reward repeat customers with special offers
  9. When it looks like a user intends to exit the page, you can create a special pop-up offer to entice them to stay on the site and make a purchase.

We recommend working directly with your eCommerce SEO company to help implement these strategies on your eCommerce website. Combining SEO expertise with an intimate understanding of your business is the best way to fill in the gaps from the ideas above. Furthermore, your eCommerce SEO agency will be able to align their SEO efforts with your eCommerce promotions so that your strategies can work together in harmony.

The Advantages and Disadvantages of Ecommerce

I remember my mom used to always test the water before she would put my little kid sister into the bath tub. Later my dad would say “Son, look at both sides of the coin before you start anything”. So here we are; mind made up and all ready to take the plunge but just before we do, some primeval instinct makes us pause and check both sides of the coin. The internet will provide you with a fairly extensive list of relevant, irrelevant and some downright fictional list of advantages and disadvantages of electronic commerce. What I’ve done is to lay out the real issues that would irritate or delight you on a day-to-day basis. So here goes:

The disadvantages of ecommerce

These usually consist of silly mistakes on the part of either the store owner or the customer:

1. Returned items – a major disadvantage of ecommerce
Very often customers misunderstand a description or are simply in too much of a rush to bother reading the detailed product description. Thus, an electrical item such as a cell phone charger that requires 220V of electricity and meant for use when on tour in Asia, is bought for local use in USA and subsequently returned often accompanied with a nasty “this is not working” letter blaming the seller for selling sub-standard products.

2. Back charging of credit card transactions – an irritating ecommerce disadvantage
Linked to above point, the customer will reject the charges. When that happens, the credit card company will not only reverse the credit but also levy a charge on your account. It wasn’t your fault but you’ve got to shoulder it.

3. Data entry errors – silly mistakes that are potentially expensive
Glenn, the store clerk entered the price of a box of finest pears as $0.96 instead of $10.96. Over the next two days the store owner was swamped with hundreds of orders for Pears. The missing digit nearly wiped out the profits for that month. Friends swear they saw Allan the store owner laughing and crying at the same time. Meanwhile Glenn, thanks to Allan’s generous heart, is now in the packing section.

4. The search engine fog – this a big disadvantage of ecommerce
If you set up a brick and mortar store at a prominent location, you get noticed instantly and will have customers from the moment you are open for business. This is not an advantage with ecommerce. In the virtual world, the only location that matters is the location in the search engine’s search results. If you’re not on the first page of the search results then you are relegated to the back alleys of cyberspace.

5. Can be equally expensive – hidden costs are a major drawback of ecommerce
True, you don’t have to spend on utilities or staff or for that matter, even on an office. But setting up a good online store requires a lot of hard work by professional people. First, they need to build you a good online store and then, it needs to be marketed by. The people who do it need to have special skills and deep knowledge, both of which are expensive. Successful ecommerce internet marketing of your online store results in a good search engine rank. The downside of ecommerce is that, the moment you stop spending on e-marketing, the search engine rank begins to slip. In a brick and mortar store you have to pay premium rentals for a premium location. The equivalent of premium rentals for an online store is e-marketing.

6. Rogue web hosting – a major irritation in ecommerce
My dad used to say “It’s so difficult to find good help these days”. I say, it’s very difficult to find good web hosting these days. Dropping rates have resulted in ecommerce web hosting services companies often running themselves on little more than hot air or recruiting staff who are clearly not competent. Any resulting down-time can prove potentially expensive. It is relatively easy to find good professional help to build and market your online store or office but finding good web hosting is a different matter altogether.

The Advantages of ecommerce

1. Location neutral – A fantastic advantage of ecommerce
How often have you heard the words “Location, location, location”? The first advantage of ecommerce is that it is location neutral. Every website is at a prime location and your customer only has to travel the distance of a single mouse click to reach you.

2. No need for supervisors and cashiers – ecommerce has a big cost advantage
An online store or online office does not need a separate set of supervisors or cashiers. At the most it needs one person monitoring the sales. Everything happens in a neat and orderly fashion. In fact, you can open as many online stores as you like for less than 5% of what it takes to set up a brick and mortar store or office.

3. Open 24 x 7, 365 days of the year – ecommerce does not take a break
You may be asleep but in other parts of the World, customers are awake and busy shopping. Ecommerce search engine optimization lets you take full advantage of this.

4. Go international from day one. Electronic commerce internationalizes your trade in an instant!
You’ve heard the term “global village” being bounced around by all and sundry. But did you know of its connection with your trade? By setting up an online store or online office, you reach out to customers irrespective of their location on the globe. For all practical purposes, you and your customers live in a village – a global village on an international scale. The advantage of ecommerce web site solutions truly boggles the mind.

5. Look Ma, no paper, no storage but I got money in the bank – Advantage of magic in ecommerce
Your online store emails you the orders; you collect them and email your suppliers the packing slips. Your suppliers ship out the orders. You don’t have to stock anything and can be as paperless as you like. Even your cash is collected directly by your bank which emails you a monthly statement.

In final analysis, if you’re careful, the disadvantages of ecommerce will not exist.
On the advantage side of ecommerce, its power is such that all you need is a little imagination and you could run an empire out of a laptop computer. Retailbizmd provides retail consulting services to help corporations in driving profitable traffic and optimizing conversion rates.