To e-commerce or not to e-commerce

E-commerce is increasingly becoming a part of what we do these days. How many thing have you bought online over the past week? The past month?

So it’s no surprise that many small business owners might want to consider adding an e-commerce part to their website. It can really help a business grow and reach more people.

But the decision to sell items online or not is not an easy one, and it’s one that can only be made on a case-by-case basis. So here are some items that might help you make that decision.

Benefits of e-commerce

So obviously, there are a lot of benefits to running an e-commerce section of your website for your business. After all, if it wasn’t an overall positive, why would so many people be doing it?

Americans are buying more and more items online. According to Trellis at the start of 2018, 51 percent of Americans with internet access prefer to shop online and 80 percent of Americans have made an online purchase in the last 30 days. And I know that number is probably similar across the world.

So e-commerce gives you a much wider reach than any brick and mortar store could ever do for you. You can hypothetically sell an item anywhere in the world and that opens up a lot of opportunities.

Plus, having an online store helps with SEO and allows more and more people to find your business. And because they can directly purchase your products, they’ll be more likely to recommend them to their friends. The possibilities for growth are almost limitless.

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Difficulties with e-commerce

That being said, it’s not all sunshine and roses when it comes to running an e-commerce side of a website. You can’t just set it and forget it. You have to run it just like you do your business, otherwise it’s just going to fail.

The first thing you need is the infrastructure to be able to sell online. This doesn’t just mean you have a part of your website to sell online. This means that you have a plan for the physical side of things: taking the orders, packaging and shipping them off.

Those things take time, and if the e-commerce part is successful, which I would think you would want it to be, it’s going to take a lot of time. And as a small business owner, any time you have to take on the e-commerce side is time you have to take away your physical side of the business.

Plus there are the other headaches, such as taxes and figuring out how you’re shipping that across the country. Just know that there are, in fact, drawbacks to an e-commerce business.

Questions you should ask of yourself, business

Before you make any rash decisions about adding an e-commerce store to your website, you need to sit down and figure somethings out. Just like anything, if you don’t plan this out beforehand, it’s all going to be a disaster in the end.

The first thing that you need to figure out is if you can handle the physical part of e-commerce. Do you have the people or time to ship out all of the items? Is it really going to be worth the time and effort you need to put in to make it successful? Will it hurt the business more than help?

Next you need to figure out if your site has that capability. Can you add an e-commerce section without needing to scrap the entire site? If you’re currently or are about create a new website, how much will it add to the cost to add in online selling? Again, is it going to be worth it?

Finally, you need to see where you want to go. If you’re just starting out or are struggling to be recognized in your own community, then maybe online selling isn’t for you yet. But if you’re wanting to grow outside of your community, then maybe it is.

I can’t answer these questions for you. You’re going to have to do that on your own. And again, you have to be honest about everything.

So before you go chasing the shiny object of e-commerce, sit down and study the benefits and costs of online selling. Then make the right decision for you and the business.

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