What are the advantages of e-commerce and E-Commerce?
It is not necessary to be called Amazon ... to do online commerce (E-Commerce).
It has even become quite simple to do business on the Internet today, as long as you know the advantages and disadvantages, and that you fully appreciate the stakes before you start.
Selling on the internet and creating an online store has never even seemed so simple.
You can almost do it in a few clicks with some platforms.
Optimize 360 gives you some advice on the subject and, while it is not a complete guide, it does provide you with the most important points to know.
Advantages of Online Sales and E-Commerce
Availability 7/7 and 24/24
This is indeed the major advantage of online sales compared to traditional commerce.
Your shop is available at any time of the day or night.
You can therefore free yourself from the legal 35 hours of factual...
An Internet user will be able, as you probably already do yourself, to order from his Ipad in his bed on a Sunday evening at 10pm. No need for a physical point of sale.
No doorsteps or goodwill.
Take advantage of this opportunity to reduce your operating costs! Buying online allows you to free yourself from a business, its structure costs, maintenance costs and personnel costs.
However, there will also be a marketing cost, but potentially less than a physical store with a street address.
Open to the world
Distance selling on the Internet gives you a window on the whole world as soon as you are present and visible (seo and/or sea referencing) in the search engines.
No boundaries. If you work in such a way as to emerge in Google, which accounts for 95% of the world's web searches, and succeed in being ahead of your competitors, then the El Dorado of online sales is yours.
Ability to target the Buyer Persona
This is the enormous advantage of the internet beyond the 7/7 - 24/24 opening to the world.
Here too you will be able, with a little technicality, to target very precisely the Buyer Persona (= the typical buyers of your products).
Thanks to natural referencing and paid referencing, Google gives you the opportunity to capture Internet users at the moment they are searching for your products or services.
Building up a customer database (and qualifying them)
Most E-commerce websites, will allow you to build an online customer file, since if only for purchases, you will need to collect data from your customers.
Last name, First name, address, E-Mail at least. And if you encourage your customers to leave more data - for birthday gifts / ex - for possible sponsorships, newsletters, future promotional offers...), you will be able to build up a very large qualified customer file.
Improve customer experience / Speed
If your website is well done, the speed of the transaction is much faster than in a physical shop where you sometimes have to wait in line before being served.
The product sheets are here directly your showcase, and if they are well organized, presented and make you want to, your e-commerce site can be a real "war machine".
Multiple orders can be placed at the same time (Simultaneous order processing capability), which is rarely the case at the checkout of a physical store.
Generate Additional Revenue with your E-commerce site
The E-commerce site can indeed be a very good complement to one or more physical shops.
As we have seen above, customers who are unable to travel, or who arrive outside of business hours, will be able to continue to buy from you.
It is therefore a substantial source of additional turnover potential.
Manage a profitability mix (volume margin)
Here too, nothing prevents you, once you have observed the margins of your products, from highlighting and promoting (on the Front Page) the best sales, and especially the products that provide you with the best margins.
Take advantage of this opportunity. It's as if you're highlighting your store's most profitable departments.
Disadvantages of Online Sales and E-Commerce
Of course, having a merchant site can be complicated for a number of reasons.
Global visibility = global competition
Just as a physical shop will have local competition in its catchment area, an online sales website will potentially have global competition.
This is necessarily the counterpart of the advantage of being open to the world.
To emerge on the internet (referencing), and better than its own competitors will therefore be a "Must Have" as 80% of internet users only click on the first page of search results.
Reactivity to be stronger
Reactivity to a competitor will also have to be stronger. Overnight, new E-Commerce sites may be placed above yours in search results, and you may lose sales or market share.
How to manage an E-commerce site
An online sales site requires back office management of the product database, customer database, logistics and payment information.
Whatever system (CMS) you will use, you will have to administer all these parameters and therefore have a minimum technical knowledge with the Software used.
In addition, you will probably have to advertise online by setting up digital campaigns (Google Ads / Google Shopping).
To do this, you have to avoid going it alone. Even if we think it's simple, it's much more complicated than it seems, and potentially very expensive if we don't set up the campaigns with method and ROI (Return On Investment) in mind.
Google is auctioning its keywords to allow you to appear in its top 4 sponsored results at the top of its number 1 results page.
And the fiercer the competition, the more expensive it gets.
If you want to appear in "Google Shopping" results that require a great deal of parameterization, you should also ask someone to accompany you if you want to appear in the results.
Possible Competition from Marketplaces or Distributors
Especially since you will probably be dealing with direct competitors if they operate in the same market or with the same products as yours.
But potentially also to "E-commerce marketplaces" such as Amazon, Fnac, Darty, if you sell products that they have also referenced.
The conversion rate and the ROI of your expenditure must therefore be controlled as finely and efficiently as possible.
Potentially complex shipping logistics
If you decide to sell internationally and take advantage of a potentially global market, your site will need to be in a multilingual version to make it easier for Internet users arriving from abroad to understand.
But the most constraining point will probably be the logistic organization to adopt to ship your products from France to abroad with the related costs and customer service problems (if defects, loss, breakage or returns of goods necessary, and ... refund).
Especially since, as we will see below, the law has evolved and requires you to be able to respect, including in E-Commerce, a withdrawal period possible on the part of your customer.
And it can get even more complicated if your products require special protective packaging, gift wrap, greeting cards or birthday cards slipped inside.
On top of that, the fact that your products are seasonal and highly ordered over a short period of time will make things even more complicated in terms of organization.
No fitting before buying (potentially returns to be organized)
Unlike a physical shop, the Internet user will not have the opportunity to touch or try your products before they arrive at their destination. (at home)
Therefore, a color that does not have the same rendering, a difference in size, perception or dimensions, can cause numerous unwanted returns.
So be very careful on the one hand about the information provided on your product sheets, but of course about the online appearance, which will have to achieve the feat of being as faithful as possible to the physical product.
Think that the Internet user is not necessarily equipped with Apple's latest Retina screen and that he may in good faith think of ordering a product that does not correspond to the reality of what he had seen.
Therefore all means of reassurance (Magnifier, Product sheet, clearly indicated dimensions, and of course clear selling price including delivery costs) will be extremely important, even crucial in E-Commerce.
Having to manage an online customer service
Even if you don't have a "physical" salesperson in the store, you will still have to manage a customer service department, which, if it is not on the same schedule as your site, will have to be very responsive anyway.
Otherwise, you run the risk of being hit with murderous comments on social networks and on media that carry opinions and comments about your products, services, and your brand or company.
Having to ensure its E-Reputation and manage it
Are therefore essential when you start selling online.
You should therefore be able to analyze and manage this E-Reputation, because even if it turns out to be very good on the whole, a few bad comments alone can create a viral Bad Buzz and pollute all the efforts you have made overnight.
A fortiori if you sell products with a deadline, with products not to be ingested, or products that simply would not be in the mood of the Good Thought of the moment ... ( Not Organic, fattening, using additives or palm oil, having non-recyclable packaging ...)
In short, it includes any "pretext" for controversy vs. the hygienic atmosphere defended by consumer associations, the media, or a few influential Internet users.
The 4 major tools to create your E-Commerce site
There are many more, but let's focus on the 4 main players in this field.
Without going into too much technical considerations, WooCommerce is a kind of extension that is affixed to a wordpress site and that does the job well for small businesses that want to launch in E-Commerce
Shopify is a saas system (Service as a Software), a kind of platform allowing you to develop your online shop (almost) without any coding notion.
It is based on monthly subscriptions, has the advantage of being potentially operational relatively quickly, and is rather efficient from an E-Commerce point of view (as it is designed for).
The big disadvantage is that on the one hand it's like a rental. You never own the source code, which makes you extremely dependent on this solution and this provider.
And on the other hand, that software takes between 0.5 and 2% of your turnover in addition. This is rather problematic for high turnover or low-margin products.
For Magento and Prestashop, they are two competing systems also designed for E-Commerce, but not at all "ready to use".
Both require the intervention of a web agency specialized and "approved" by these two softwares in order to have the assurance of a start up corresponding perfectly to the needs of the online merchant.
They are therefore much more expensive in "One Shot", but the structure of the site, once created belongs to its buyer (even if he will not be able in most cases to "torture" it himself beyond the back office of operational administration[/stm_iconlist][stm_iconlist icon= "stmicon-arrow-more "]
Do Social Networks allow you to sell online? (Social Selling)
On the subject, there is no ready-made answer, but Optimize 360's point of view is that, except in exceptional cases (fashion, fashion, impulse products), the answer is rather "NO"
So don't dive headlong into Social Selling or you'll be faced with a number of setbacks...
Because Internet users have a radically different attitude on the one hand on Google, and on the other hand on social networks.
- On Google we are dealing with a public that is active (in an active search phase, therefore often ready to make a purchase in line with its searches).
- On social networks, we are dealing with a "contemplative" public that came there to have fun (exchange with friends, post news, surf randomly), but not with the intention of looking for something to buy.
"You don't look for something to buy in the Facebook search engine" ...
Therefore, and again with few exceptions, and/or products that may be relayed by (real) influencers, there are a top priority for an E-merchant
Be Present, Findable, Visible, and better than the competition on Google!
Points of Vigilance on Online Sales
Beyond the points we have already discussed, there are still a few, and not the least, to be able to sell on the internet:
Pay attention to the rules and laws that apply to E-commerce.
One should already be aware that in E-commerce, the E-Merchant is subject to the same rules as the "classic" trader in terms of reporting obligations (Consumer Protection, VAT, etc.).
What are the obligations for E-Commerce:
The legal obligations apply to all types of online business activities:
- sales of new or used products ;
- services that concern paid work, such as online training, computer troubleshooting, coaching sessions... ;
- hosting services ;
- transport services ;
- meal delivery and catering services;
- leisure activities.
1) Protection of personal data
Personal data is information relating to a natural person who is identified or identifiable, directly or indirectly, by means of an identifier or one or more elements specific to his or her identity.
Name, address, email, an IP address, photo, social profile or any other additional qualifying information
Comply with the obligations of the RGPD as well!
The General Data Protection Regulations is the latest European directive concerning the storage and use of personal data.
It defines the obligations relating to the portability of personal data and the accountability of data custodians.
The online sale requires the collection of personal data for identification, payment, delivery and possible commercial exchanges. ,
Therefore, you cannot do what you want with this information.
You have an obligation of transparency towards your customers regarding their use.
On the subject, you must:
- obtain prior consent from customers for emailing,
- inform them of the use of their personal data,
- to give them a right of access to their data and to correct them,
- give them the possibility to oppose the use of their data (sale of files, canvassing),
- respect your customers' right to data deletion and dereferral.
To find out all the details governed by the law, go to the CNIL page
2) The contract of sale
The order in E-Commerce, must be made in 3 mandatory steps:
- visualization of order details and total price
- error correction
- order confirmation
The site manager is entirely responsible for the execution of the contract concluded at a distance (including delivery), unless the poor execution is attributable to the buyer, a third party, or to a case of force majeure.
The seller must therefore send an e-mail acknowledging receipt of the sale and must also issue an invoice to his customer upon delivery.
3) E-commerce means of payment
In online sales more than anywhere else, you benefit from being clear and explicit about the different means of payment accepted on your e-shop.
Specify the rules governing payment: payment in installments, with or without fees...
On the Internet, even more than elsewhere, secure payments are essential.
Indicate on your e-shop which is your payment system and which is the provider who manages your secure payment.
Indicate well the email address and phone number of the customer service in case of problem to reassure your customers about the online payment.
4) Delivery date and means of shipment in E-Commerce
The law requires e-merchants to ship the packages within a maximum of 30 days from the date of order.
Concerning the delivery charges, please indicate the rates for each delivery method you offer (standard, express, relay point...).
Set up a simulator of the amount of the delivery charges in the shopping cart.
You will thus fulfil the legal obligation to provide information.
The amount of delivery costs - included in the total to be paid - must always be mentioned at least on the summary page before the order is finalised.
- the late indication of delivery costs leads to a high basket abandonment rate. Especially if the indicated costs are high. Delivery is the first factor in basket abandonment.
5) E-Purchaser's Right of Withdrawal and Returns
The Consumer Code is as follows::
Every mail order consumer (mail order) has a right of withdrawal of 14 days from the day after receipt of the goods or acceptance of the service.
In order to comply with the law, you must clearly indicate the different steps your customer must follow to return his or her product.
You can set up the process of a product return in the form of a very precise list of "specifications".
Include them in your GTC, which may, if necessary, allow you to contest your customer's withdrawal in the event of non-compliance with these conditions.
Also be clear about the maximum time limit for the refund of purchases
The https protocol
De facto present as soon as you exit E-buyer on the payment modules, it is strongly advised to adopt it on the navigation of the site itself even before reaching the payment.
Google Chrome, and other browsers are beginning to indicate "unsafe site" when a site is not secure.
Even if the impact on SEO is for the moment minor (it could become), it is really a Must Have for the credibility of an E-Commerce site.
Referencing for E-Commerce sites
Even if we mentioned it above, the natural referencing (seo) and paying (sea) are essential for an E-Commerce site.
If the online shop is not found and is not viewed and visited, the products listed there will not be sold. It's as simple and trivial as that.
On the other hand, the referencing of an E-Commerce site is slightly more complex to carry out than a traditional site.
First of all, because the potential number of products can be high and possible errors are multiplied.
If this is the case, the penalty from Google and other search engines can be severe. And you can let the competition pass you by.
On the subject, absolutely call upon a Search Engine Optimization Agency to help you and to take all the Advantages of E-Commerce!