An online store has several benefits, whether you use it to sell products alongside your conventional business or as a standalone e-commerce venture. Read our list of 10 reasons why an online shop could be great for your business.
1. Reduced overheads – in general, an online store costs less to set up and run than a physical shop, although it’s important to recognise that making e-commerce work requires continuing investment.
2. Lower marketing costs with better targeting: online promotion can be more precisely aimed at potential customers than using conventional media. It’s also much cheaper, for example, to send a marketing message by e-mail to 1,000 customers than it is to send 1,000 newsletters by post.
3. Expanded geographical reach: a local business can become nationwide or, depending on the product, international, just through having an effective e-commerce strategy. Bear in mind that if you do sell outside the UK, you’ll need to comply with regulations and understand tax and import/export issues. Find out more at the Open to Export website.
4. Being open for business 24/7: with automated order and payment processing, sales can be made at any time, and customers can buy when it suits them. Research* shows that the most popular time for online shopping is 12pm to 2pm weekdays, and on Sunday evenings.
5. Greater flexibility: an online store can be updated instantly and as often as you like – for example, to promote a ‘deal of the day’ on your front page, without the need for expensive printed display material.
6. Broader potential customer base: an e-commerce business is an additional buying channel, capable of attracting customers who have not bought before.
7. Improved customer profiling, with the opportunity to target products and services at specific groups based on buying data.
8. Increased visibility for your business: with investment in search engine optimisation and online promotion, an online shop becomes more accessible to customers searching for your products.
9. The ability to tell people about your business: this is particularly valuable when an online store operates alongside a conventional high-street outlet, providing information about opening hours, contact details and answers to Frequently Asked Questions.
10. Another marketing channel: your online store can support your digital marketing efforts by including customer reviews and testimonials.