According to a recent report from Internet Retailer, an online tracking firm, the combined sales of the top 500 online sellers jumped by 17.5 percent in 2012! That more than quintupled the anemic 3 percent sales increase in the overall retail industry. Although still a relatively small segment, e-commerce is expanding at an incredible rate and may soon become a primary sales driver.
Why sell goods and services online?
Buying anything on the internet was once considered extremely risky. After all, there were hackers and cyber thieves who could easily intercept your credit card numbers and use them for their own ends. But antivirus and other prophylactic software essentially eliminated these worries for the average consumer. Sure, hackers still hack into major companies and cause problems every now and again, but the regular user is safer than ever. As a result, people feel more confident about buying items online, which is why the sales numbers are all on the rise.
For retailers, online sales are attractive because they help them cut overhead expenses to the bone. They no longer have to worry about paying rent, utilities, or employing large staffs. All they really need is a website and a few industrious workers. Larger sales margins, higher volumes, and smaller debts can help them reach the break even point far faster than most traditional businesses.
As potentially profitable as they may be, ecommerce startups are still extremely risky bets. Why? For starters, they often have inflated valuations. No matter what they sell, the average ecommerce business is capital-intensive and has low profit margins and high exit multiples. In other words, they must hit the ground running. They must go from zero to sixty in no time and start selling right away in order to make any return on the initial investment. If they fail to gain a loyal following or customer base, they can cost their investors a pretty penny in an eyeblink.
As in any industry, the market leaders make it hard for new companies to compete or even enter the marketplace. Stalwarts like Amazon.com and EBay often buy up businesses before they can gain much market share, which makes venture investors apprehensive about future fundraising.
The good news is that most new e-commerce startups aren’t trying to be the next big thing. They simply want to build a successful business and see what comes next, rather than dethroning Amazon or EBay. And with hard word and the help of modern technology, they can create a profitable company by selling their goods and/or services on the internet.
The modern shopper
To sell anything anywhere, you must understand your customers. The two most important questions in the history of commerce have always been: what does the customer want, and how much is he willing to pay for it? But we might also add a third, more current question to that list how does he want to buy? Online shopping has been around for well over a decade now and is actually become a bit outmoded. The latest trend is mobile shopping, which means that users purchase items on their smartphones instead of on personal computers.
What’s the difference?
Because the screens on mobile devices are much smaller than the screens of laptops or tablets, you must resize your website to mobile using viewpoint settings; otherwise, your buyers will not be able to see, let alone purchase your products. As the demographics continue to shift, experts predict that the shopper of the future will buy more and more goods and service via their mobile devices.
Take advantage of social media
Getting the word out about his wares has always been the salesmen’s greatest challenge, since it could be expensive and time consuming. But with the help of social media sites like Twitter and Facebook, business owners can promote new products and services and flash sales for nothing! They can create their own business pages on websites and reach out to former and potential customers. Our advice? If you’re thinking of investing in an e-commerce startup, sign up on as many of these sites as you possibly can and promote your business before it even opens. Get a good buzz going and keep in contact with everyone that expresses interest in your business.