Earlier this year, Forrester Research reported that online retail sales could grow 13% to $176.9 billion by 2010. As a business owner, you should be asking yourself, “Where’s my piece of that pie?” Your opportunity to grow into a successful eCommerce business doesn’t mean you need to abandon your core brick-and-mortar store. It means you need to find new revenue opportunities to grow your entire business.
You may be a restaurant owner or a plumber, and you’re asking yourself, “What can I possibly sell online?” Growing your business is as simple as understanding that you only need two things: something to sell and someone to sell it to.
As a law firm, how many legal books or documents have you purchased? Why aren’t you writing and selling them yourself?
If you’re a plumber, have you ever thought about selling parts or “how-to-fix-it” books online? Or, if you have a fun brand or logo that would look good on a T-shirt or coffee mug, why not put your website to good use and sell that merchandise yourself?
As a Northern Kentucky–Cincinnati native who has lived throughout the United States, I know the importance of finding my favorite hometown foods. I don’t know how I would live without being able to order my favorite chili or pizza kits online from my hometown restaurants (that’s right, we make great pizza in Cincinnati).
No matter what you sell, odds are there’s a market for it online. And the Internet offers you an affordable way to reach customers worldwide, not just in your own backyard.
Managing your online store may seem overwhelming, but there are available service solutions that can manage nearly every aspect of your business for you, allowing you to focus on growing your business.
Here are four things you need to consider:
- Find a reliable and robust online shopping cart platform that will help you make sales and market to your customers.
- Consider how you’ll brand your store. When looking to design your eCommerce website, remember there are eCommerce designers and then there are website designers. All things are not equal when it comes to design. Be sure you’re using a company that is a trusted name in successful eCommerce design. Be sure to view their portfolio and look for their clients’ success history.
- If you hire an agency, watch out for those that over-promise and under-deliver, especially those that sell you guarantees on how your website will perform. NO ONE can guarantee #1 rankings on Google™ or Yahoo!® searches, so again, do your homework.
- Be open to growth. I’ve seen customers make a lot of money by starting with just one product. Don’t worry about flooding the market with thousands of products. If you start out as an expert and trusted source for one product, you can go far.
eCommerce is a young industry that is still being defined. The great thing about it is, if the right tools are effectively applied, a small business can compete with a mega brand. eCommerce is the great equalizer online. How you make that opportunity work for your business is up to you.