Choosing the Right E-Commerce Apps to Start or Expand Your Online Store
As technology has continued to evolve over the years, consumer behaviors have shifted along with it as they have further adopted the online shopping experience. While large businesses have been online for years, the e-commerce apps available today present an opportunity for small businesses to take their storefronts to this space as well. Entrepreneurs can start new small businesses online, without the overhead of a brick-and-mortar retail location, allowing them to maximize their profits while they build their brand and reputation.
The global coronavirus pandemic of 2020 has taught us that our current business landscape is not invincible. This reality has led many small business owners to either launch online stores or expand and optimize their already existing online shopping presence.
Benefits of E-Commerce Platforms
There are many benefits to utilizing e-commerce apps and platforms. Here are some of the key advantages of taking your store online.
Start collecting and utilizing customer data
This is one of the biggest advantages to having a business online. When a customer makes a purchase online, the shop can collect their personal data, such as their email address, much more easily without needing them to sign up for a fancy rewards program. You can export that information to an email marketing platform like MailChimp or Campaign Monitor to send them promotional emails that can help turn first-time customers into recurring customers.
Dropship company connectivity
Typically, when a small business starts up, they require working capital to stock up on their product inventory. A dropship business can sell some products online without the business owner first having to own the inventory. This allows shops to create, list and market new products in a matter of hours or less and eliminate excess inventory. Your online shop will simply take the order from the customer and send it to the dropship company for fulfillment. Many e-commerce providers, like Shopify and Etsy, allow you to easily connect to a dropship company so you can start selling easily and quickly while minimizing high up-front expenses.
Some of the top items businesses dropship include clothes, shoes, jewelry, toys, cosmetics and furniture.
Considerations for Your E-Commerce Apps
With the many e-commerce providers available today, you may not even know what features to look for when making your choice.
One of the first things I encourage you to consider is that you do not need your own website and domain when you are just starting out. There are many providers out there that will host your store and allow you to start selling right away. Many of them have simple design features, search engine optimization tools and other advertising tools to help you reach new customers. This allows you more time to run your business and work with your customers, leaving all the back-end work to the e-commerce platform.
Another consideration is the cost structure of the platform. There are many out there that charge an upfront cost or make their money on monthly subscription fees but are not interested in staying with you throughout the process to make sure your business thrives. There are other platforms, however, that only benefit when your business is making sales. They have an incentive to help get your products in front of as many customers as possible, because they are only doing well when you’re doing well.
Arguably the most important consideration when choosing an e-commerce platform is knowing where your customers are shopping for products you sell. For example, car dealerships found out years ago that a lot of people visit Craigslist to shop for used cars. As a result, many of them have started listing their inventory there. Take the time to research where your audience is shopping to help you choose the best platform for your needs.
Reach Out to Your Partners
While online search engines are going to be your best friend in terms of conducting research for the best e-commerce apps for small business, it’s smart to have a conversation with someone who has experience starting an online store.
In addition to getting you set up with your business bank accounts and financing, commercial bankers at Northwest Bank have worked with other small business owners as they have developed their online stores. We can have a conversation with you about what works and what may not work so well.
Contact a commercial banker at Northwest Bank today to learn more.
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