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E-Commerce | Who, What, Why, How

We don’t need to tell small business owners that times are tough given the restrictions placed upon their companies. As of April 7, about 306 million people are under some form of lockdown across the United States. However, there are ways in which many businesses can keep dollars flowing in while their front doors are temporarily closed to public entry. The solution for not only the present, but the future as well? E-Commerce.

With people remaining indoors for the foreseeable future, consumers are largely shopping online. If your company does not currently have a way for customers to buy products online and have them shipped to their door, or at the very least ordered online for curbside pickup, you are at a serious disadvantage.

We’ve broken down what e-commerce is, why local businesses must double down and adopt this service and how to do so efficiently and effectively. Let’s get to it.


What is E-Commerce?


By definition, e-commerce is the buying or selling of goods or services using the internet, and the transfer of money and data to execute these transactions. According to the Census Bureau of the Department of Commerce, U.S. retail e-commerce sales for 2019 were estimated at $601.7 billion, a 14.9% increase from 2018. Not only has there been a steady monetary increase in e-commerce sales, but the percentage of total sales e-commerce represents has increased year over year since 2010. While people are currently mandated to shop largely from the boundaries of their home, it is clear that e-commerce will continue to occupy a significant facet of the U.S. retail sector.


What Industries Can Utilize E-Commerce


 Thoughts of apparel and accessories come to mind immediately when considering what products are most likely to be bought and sold via the internet. However, sectors that are less obvious candidates for e-commerce are working to grow their online shopping presence. The automotive sector has been slow to adopt principles of the online shopping world. But with the coronavirus pandemic, consumers are not visiting dealerships. Instead, they are visiting auto group websites in new found fury, causing dealers to expand upon their digital capabilities to make deals online and arrange for home deliveries of purchased vehicles.

In addition, as people are eating out at restaurants less, they are shopping for their groceries at restaurants more. Sysco is offering advice and support for restaurants on how to start selling extra produce as groceries now that they have transitioned entirely to curbside pickup and delivery. Even Fortune 500 companies like Walmart are working overtime to grow online sales to keep up with the changing times and compete with e-commerce giants like Amazon.

Our point here? E-commerce is not a black and white entity. It is a fluid tool that is evolving with consumer needs. Companies within diverse industries can modify and utilize e-commerce solutions and platforms to their advantage regardless of industry shopping “norms.”


Why Local Businesses Need an E-Commerce Solution Now


We’ve covered how e-commerce sales have blossomed over the last decade. But we want to take a step back and highlight why small businesses need to adopt an e-commerce solution.

  • Impulse buying will continue to spike.
    • If you’re currently working remotely, you’re most likely spending exponentially more time in front of your computer screen and on your phone. As such, it’s much easier to bounce on over to your favorite clothing site or peruse the latest and greatest in electronic accessories. Don’t miss out on your chance to tap into this consumer base.
  • Comparison shopping is here to stay.
    • We’ve talked a great deal about reviews and online profiles recently. Not only will your company’s or your product’s reputation be compared, but the price of your products will be compared to competitors. Affordability will be compared to quality. Leading retailers are on the offensive by guiding product insights to make the purchasing process quicker, easier and more satisfying.
  • Buyers want to buy local. Give them the ability to do so!
    • Roughly 50% of American consumers frequent small businesses 2-4 times per week. The reasons?
      • Convenience (61%)
      • Better customer service (48%)
      • Familiarity (41%)
      • Loyalty (36%)
      • High levels of trust (31%)
    • Establish brand credibility and stability.
      • When a consumer is researching businesses within your industry, what will they come upon when they reach your online profile? Your job as a business owner is to earn people’s patronage. Ensure that products are well-received by costumers and resolve problems when they are not. Your online reputation goes a long way.
    • Manage inventory and cash flow more effectively.
      • Wouldn’t it be nice to manage customers and invoices, update inventory levels, set prices and track order statuses all from the same place? With an e-commerce site you can.


Need Some Assistance?


The Times Union Media Group’s Express E-Commerce Website Solutions empowers our clients to sell their products online with their existing website or a separate E-Commerce microsite. User experience matters – big time. On average, roughly 70% of online shoppers will abandon their carts without buying anything. While you can’t control all of the factors that contribute to this high rate of abandonment, you can control the consumer’s user experience. In fact, 21% of consumers abandon their cart due to a checkout process that is either too long or too complicated. What’s more, 13% of consumers abandon their cart as a result of errors on the website or, even worse, a website that has crashed.

Our e-commerce solutions create simple, easy to use product category navigation. We build your online store with a sophisticated look and feel that establishes brand credibility. In addition, we thoroughly test all possible product selections and perform quality control measures.

We’ll guide you through providing product data, setting up your banking merchant account, accepting online payments and mailing shipments in order for you to be online selling in as little as 2-3 weeks. Our proven process and expert team help local businesses launch their online store and start receiving order in weeks rather than months.

Get in touch with us today and learn how the Times Union Media Group is your partner in both these uncertain times and in the years ahead.