Selling online has a number of advantages over selling by traditional methods, including:
- Making savings in set-up and operational costs. You don't need to rent high street premises, pay shop assistants or answer a lot of pre-sales queries.
- Reducing order processing costs - customer orders can automatically come straight into your orders database from the website.
- Reaching a global audience, thereby increasing sales opportunities.
- Competing with larger businesses by being able to open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
- Being able to receive payment more quickly from online transactions.
- Attracting customers who would not normally have investigated your type of high street outlet.
- Improving your offerings using the data gathered by tracking customer purchases.
- Using your online shop as a catalogue for existing customers.
Online selling will work best if you have:
- well-defined products or services that can be sold without human involvement in the sales process
- fixed prices for all types of potential customers
- products or services that can be delivered within a predictable lead time
Many businesses can run pilot e-commerce sites without significant investment. However, creating a fully automated online shop tailored to meet your precise requirements could be expensive.
Whatever form of online shop you choose, it's important to take a strategic view. If you launch a website that disappoints your customers or is overwhelmed by traffic, you risk damaging your reputation and losing sales.