Doing business online goes by a variety of names: eCommerce, online commerce, Web commerce, eBusiness, eRetail, eTailing, and even EC. But whatever you call it, it’s likely to be beneficial to growing your small business.
Marketing and selling goods or services online requires several features not found in traditional retail or on typical business websites. These include a merchant account that offers Internet credit card processing ability, an online product catalog, a virtual shopping cart and a bulk email program. Once these are established, the benefits of eCommerce can start to pay off for both merchants and their customers.
For example, the upfront costs for establishing a virtual business are less than for a brick-and-mortar operation, and the process can generally be accomplished more quickly. Other benefits of eCommerce are:
- An online presence makes your business more accessible to potential customers, business associates and product manufacturers, which in turn creates new relationship opportunities.
- Customers have 24/7 buying access via the Internet, but you don’t have the associated costs of a round-the-clock operation. In a sense, eCommerce allows you to put your business on auto pilot during non-business hours and still reap the rewards.
- Promoting your brand gets easier when millions of potential customers worldwide can visit your website, peruse your inventory and make a purchase. That kind of traffic just isn’t available in a storefront operation!
- eCommerce promotes customer loyalty. Consumers like shopping when it’s easy, convenient and interactive. Being able to shop whenever they like, wherever they like and paying with a credit card ranks high with them. Remember: a satisfied customer is a repeat customer.
- An online presence gives your customers instant and direct access to product information, specials and promotions, and practically anything they need to know about your business and the services or products you offer.
- Moving a business online reduces your operating costs. There’s no physical location (and related expenses) to contend with, and fewer paid staff are required to run the operation. That’s money in your pocket that’s pure profit.
- By cutting costs and increasing your exposure to potential customers, your bottom line is likely to grow, making it possible to take your business in new directions.
Taking the first step towards tapping the eCommerce market begins with talking to your merchant services provider about adding a merchant account for online credit card processing so you can start reaping the many benefits of being an online merchant!