Shoppers’ ways of purchasing products and services have changed dramatically in the past few months of 2020. With 52% of consumers avoiding crowds and 32% staying home more often, stay-at-home orders have left brick-and-mortar retailers struggling to stay in business.
While it may sound scary — and even counterintuitive — to consider opening a new sales market during times of uncertainty, it can actually be a smart move right now. If COVID-19 has shown retailers anything, it’s the importance of expanding into e-commerce and making sure the online portion of their business is doing all it can to attract and engage consumers.
Whether you’re considering becoming a pure-play retailer (e-tailer) or are simply thinking about adding an online component to your business, here are four reasons why it’s important to have an online presence.
It Lets You Stay Competitive
While many customers will always be die-hard in-person shoppers, there’s no doubt e-commerce is gaining in popularity. The number of e-commerce shoppers is expected to top 2 billion in 2020, or more than 26% of the world’s population.
But if you’re still focused exclusively on brick-and-mortar locations, you’re missing out on capturing your share of the estimated $3.46 trillion consumers spent worldwide online in 2019.
So why not capitalize on this evolving customer preference by taking your business online? Not only will it help you expand the reach of your store to shoppers outside your local customer base, it will also help you remain competitive in today’s increasingly popular e-commerce marketplace.
An Online Presence Helps Expand Your Reach
As we mentioned above, part of staying competitive is going where your customers like to be, which is online. Launching an e-commerce store lets you reach new customers and new markets around the world.
Cross-border e-commerce is hot right now and is showing no signs of cooling off. With global online sales expected to top $4 trillion by 2025, merchants who expand online can take advantage of the most active countries for e-commerce, like Brazil, China and Japan.
It Can Help You Meet Customer Expectations
Customers want what they want, when they want it. And it can be all but impossible for brick-and-mortar merchants to deliver on those expectations, whether it’s due to lockdowns or simply by having standard operating hours. But having an e-commerce component to your business gives your customers stress-free, 24/7 access to your products and services — all from the comfort of their homes.
Customers are no more patient when it comes to waiting for answers. To address customer questions and concerns during nontraditional business hours, you can set up a variety of ways for shoppers to contact you, including chatbots, 24/7 customer service lines, and Facebook and email messages.
Shoppers appreciate the ability to make personal connections with you online, and you’ll have the opportunity to earn their trust by serving them wherever and whenever they’re shopping.
Going Online Reduces Costs
Every merchant wants to turn a profit. But it can be hard to do if you have a lot of overhead costs, like buying and storing products, paying rent and utilities, and purchasing office supplies and store fixtures.
But when you move your business online, you can eliminate many of these overhead costs. Some larger retailers can even operate directly from their homes, using dropshippers to offer a wide range of products without having to invest directly in expensive inventory that needs to be stored in and shipped from a warehouse.
Here two other reasons why moving online can be a low-investment approach to growing your business.
Reduced Marketing Expenses
Digital marketing costs are generally much less expensive than their traditional counterparts, and digital marketing strategies like robust blog posts and user-generated content can easily fit into the tightest of budgets. Even email marketing through a free solution like MailChimp can make reaching out to prospects and customers through targeted emails quick, easy and inexpensive.
Taking your business online might help you reduce your staffing expenses. You might find you can outsource customer service to virtual assistants or robust chatbots and manage sales and warehouse roles with dropshippers.
How to Safely Make the Move Online
Today’s brick-and-mortar retailers are smart to notice the trend toward more consumers using their shopping dollars online, current pandemics notwithstanding. And when merchants shift some or all of their operations online, it gives them an opportunity to connect with new customers, build a better brand and increase revenue.
Moving a business online isn’t without its risks, of course, and one of the biggest threats to you and your revenue and reputation is card-not-present fraud. But when you partner with a trusted, fully outsourced solution, you can reduce your fraud risk, minimize false declines and protect against chargeback losses.
Talk with a ClearSale credit card fraud analyst today to learn how our multilayered approach can help protect your profits and free you and your staff to focus on growing your new online business.