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E-commerce for Small Business & Entrepreneurs

E-commerce for Small Business & Entrepreneurs

We are living in a time where the Internet is an integral part of our lives. Either it’s about choosing the right route for your destination, or, researching before purchasing something, the Internet has covered it all. There is no denying the fact that we are moving towards a world that would be Internet-dependent.

Especially during the times of COVID-19, when consumer behaviour has witnessed a shift towards online shopping, it’s the right time for you to understand the effects and benefits of e-commerce to take your store online.

For someone who is not a regular Internet savvy person migrating from offline to online can be a bit challenging. One might face challenges related to technological development, making online business strategies, and building a team of professionals to handle the business successfully.

Benefits of E-commerce 

  1. Increased Business Reach

One of the most significant advantages of e-commerce is that it takes your business to people where it’s not possible for you to be present physically. By having an online store, you can sell your products/ services to different locations from a single location. 

  1. Increased Business Revenue

As the business reach widens, the customer base would grow, which will directly impact the number of sales. Thus, it will boost the revenue. With increased revenue, business owners can increase the product line, or invest more in marketing to capture more audience.

  1. Emarketing

Reaching out to an audience by sending emails, contacting via phone, or pushing marketing messages can be a tiresome task. But, thanks to emarketing, attracting people to the online store has become much more comfortable. Through the means of an e-commerce business, you can land well in the search engines and start receiving recurring traffic to your online store. Slowly, with the best e-commerce practices, you can convert these to a steady flow of customers for your business. 

  1. Low Operational Cost

One of the benefits of having an online store is that you don’t have to build physical stores at all the locations where you want to sell your products/ services, a single eStore would do that for you. This will keep your business operational cost on the lower side. So, while you have access to customers from all across the country and internationally, your operational cost is kept at a minimum.

  1. Online Reputation Building

As a small offline business, when your customers appreciate your products/ services, it’s tough for you to take advantage of those appreciations to influence new customers. But, with an online presence of your business, your customers can share their appreciation over social media profiles of your business. These reviews are publically available for everyone to see and this helps you to influence your new users to get converted to customers. 

  1. Flexible Timings

As you would be running your business online, you can remain open for new orders and your customers 24×7, which is not feasible in the case of an offline brick and mortar store. So, by going online, you can receive orders 24X7 and never let any opportunity slip away from you.

  1. Reviews

Word of mouth is still one of the most popular marketing methods that can help any brand go viral overnight. While in a retail environment it is difficult to get customer reviews, it is much more comfortable and hassle-free online. You can ask customers for reviews online and build credibility by publishing these on social media platforms and other sales channels.

The advantages of e-commerce are manifold. It saves time and energy, and also you can sell your product or service to a huge audience all over the world with just a mouse click. Compared to other businesses, it is cost-effective. By minimising the damage of operations and increasing sales through better reach, you can do wonders for your business.

MAKETE provides state of the art digital e-commerce platform to CONNECT (communities, buyers & sellers), LEARN (business training) and EARN (selling products and services).

MAKETE provides an easy to use, secure platform to sell and promote goods and services made in Fiji.

Contact us on [email protected] to find out more on how to get your online store on MAKETE.

“We will continue to see a convergence of the digital and physical world. Those who conquer that trend will be market leaders.” – John Phillips

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The Future of E-commerce

E-commerce is a goliath industry. So it is no wonder that people are always asking about the future of e-commerce. It’s also an industry that is ever-changing. Trends are constantly shifting in an attempt to shape the way that people in every corner of the globe purchase products.

This makes the future of e-commerce exciting, to say the least. A lot of big things are expected to change in e-commerce over the coming years. 

We’re here to help you understand what the future of e-commerce will look like

  1. Many services that go online during the pandemic will stay online

Some types of services require in-person meetings. You can’t organise someone’s closet without going to their house, or draw someone’s blood for tests without having them come into the doctor’s office. But service providers and their customers are now learning just how many services can be effectively provided over digital channels. 

Telemedicine and teletherapy are nothing new, but people who may have been hesitant to try them before are now forced to. Some of those that do will find that the digital version works just fine, and removes the headache of sitting in traffic or dealing with parking. The same calculations will happen for other types of service-based businesses, like coaching and IT consulting. 

While there will definitely still be people who prefer the in-person experience with service providers they hire, others will come to take the choice for a more convenient option. 

  1. Website builders will be the design option of choice for small e-commerce businesses

The influx of new e-commerce businesses we predicted above will largely be started by people with little coding or web design experience. In the past, that would have been a significant hurdle to getting an online store off the ground. But in 2022, it’s no problem at all.

Now, new website owners have a number of affordable (or even free) e-commerce website builders they can turn to for creating a website, regardless of their skill level. Website builders provide templates designed by professionals that incorporate user experience best practices. 

New e-commerce entrepreneurs can change up the templates by switching out colors, uploading custom images, and moving elements using drag-and-drop functionality. And in a matter of hours or even minutes, they will have a functional customised e-commerce website ready.

In uncertain economic times like these, the ability to get an online store up fast and affordably will be more attractive to most than taking on a more complicated web design project. Many of the next wave of online stores will therefore be built with the popular website builders now available or potentially with new ones that come onto the market to address the growing interest. 

  1. An explosion of new e-commerce businesses will rise in the wake of COVID-19

The coronavirus has already started to reshape how the economy looks. Brands that previously had a business model entirely dependent on people showing up in-store must now either evolve or shutter. Evolving in the age of shelter-in-place orders means e-commerce. 

While there aren’t good numbers yet as to how many new e-commerce businesses this crisis has spawned and even less known about which of those businesses will survive to the other side of it it seems highly likely that the coronavirus will produce an influx of new online businesses. Some will be an evolved version of brick-and-mortar businesses from before the pandemic, and others will rise entirely in response to the new world.

  1. Mobile shopping will be the norm for a large portion of the population

This is an easy prediction because, well, it’s already true. Over a third of all e-commerce sales happen on smartphones. So while this isn’t a trend that will be new to the future, it still bears mentioning because of how significant a role mobile devices will continue to play in the future of e-commerce.

The continued popularity of mobile shopping will mean businesses must continue (or start) to include mobile devices in their overall marketing strategy. That means determining whether or not building a mobile app for the business makes sense. It may include investing in mobile-specific channels like SMS ads (short message service, the more technical term for text messaging) or running ads on mobile apps. And it definitely, at minimum, means making sure your website is mobile-friendly.  

  1. AI-driven chatbots will take over a share of marketing and customer service

In recent years, the chat boxes that pop up at the bottom of business websites have become a common sight. While sometimes these have a human behind them answering questions in real time, a lot of the time these are chatbots that serve up answers based on artificial intelligence.

AI chatbots can provide a lot of tangible benefits for e-commerce businesses:

  • They can provide answers to common questions visitors have 24/7 (while human customer service employees need to sleep).
  • They can offer personalised product and content recommendations to website visitors based on their interests.
  • They can cut down on the time customer service representatives spend answering basic questions.
  • Every interaction they have with visitors teaches them something about your audience, which makes future answers and information they provide even more useful.

AI chatbots are a prime example of how e-commerce has transformed marketing. As the technology that powers them becomes more affordable and accessible, more businesses are likely to adopt them. They will offload some of the work marketing and customer service departments do now, and provide website visitors with useful information at the moment they are looking for it. 

Nobody knew at this time last year that the world would be so thoroughly changed by a contagious virus. And none of us can know for sure what next year will bring. The best you can do is to stay on top of researching e-commerce trends and predictions, and do what you can to prepare for the changes likely to come.

The future of e-commerce is undoubtedly going to be full of exciting changes and innovations for both businesses and buyers. Whether you’re an entrepreneur, or you’re working at an e-commerce company yourself, it’s important to try to keep your finger on the pulse when it comes to changes in the e-commerce landscape.

Our best advice is to keep on learning.

About the author: Sheenal Naiker
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