Before answering this question, let us identify what are advantages and limitations of e-stores for general industries:
- It is easy to say that an e-commerce site is convenient for consumers. Shopping can be done without the limitations of opening and closing times, and it literally brings the store to your home, an idea that could have been possible in the past through traveling salesmen.
- Discounts, promos, coupons and freebies. Let’s face it, the internet is filled with all possible bribes to keep one buying on an e-commerce store. Most online establishments already offer tons of offers like free shipping, discount codes, and other forms of money saving options.
- Intuitive tools for better consumer service. You have the screen to serve as your shelf space. With an e-store, it is possible to show different products in one screen you can also allow customers to compare products and with new tools, even suggest items that seem to match the product.
- Web 2.0- you get tools that are capable of allowing customers interact such as in comments and product reviews. A lot of customers highly rely on consumer reviews and reports so the e-store is perfect for those customers who are not easy to please.
Only on the web- there are some stores that create exclusive offers for customers.
- Without the need to dress up, drive and have a nice dinner with friends after shopping, the joy of retail has lost since it has become more practical online.
- Security and privacy issues always bombard the internet world though in the last few years, top retailers online have implemented more reliable tools to keep credit card information.
- Not getting what you paid for. With Photoshop and professional photography transforming every product to items of desire, it is a lot more risky for consumers to buy items since they might not get the item that they expected.
- Ironically, too much choice can be stress inducing. You get similar items priced differently or with other perks and it just makes the whole experience stressful.
Knowing these facts, you might ask yourself: Is my business really prepared for e-commerce? The answer lies within the business itself. Looking at these factors, you see that it is very enticing, but it does not translate to success, at least, not for the first few months. Consider these facts to know if all these things will be your concerns for your e-store:
- Study your business and do research. Is this business in search engines? Do you have products that can be found online and discussed across forums and blogs? Do you have a recognizable brand that can easily be sensed by the media? Is the business related to computers? Using these questions, you can identify if the business is web-ready. Of course, this is the easy path. You can take the hard road and start from ground zero but that is a massive risk.
- Are you ready for a unique aspect of retail? You have to set up a website, maintain it, and maybe have a dedicated IT person to manage it. You need to commit.
- Are you willing to study the legalities of the online business? You have to set up policies for returns or refunds and all other customer related aspects.
- Are you willing to invest? From payment gateways, professional photography for your products, website content, customer service, maintenance and website design.
- Set up a market plan and realign your objectives. Do you need a total overhaul or is it an aspect that can be easily introduced to the business process?