An eCommerce website is a an online store through which products or services can be bought and sold. Having an eCommerce website is becoming an ever more essential requirement for businesses due to increases in both the number of people shopping online and the amount they are spending.
In this article we will explore the ins and outs of eCommerce to help you understand whether it’s suitable for your business, with additional tips on how to get started.
Types of eCommerce Websites
It’s easy to imagine that eCommerce sites are restricted to retail companies, and while the majority of sites are selling to consumers (B2C), there are also many businesses to business (B2B) sites such as manufacturers selling to retailers.
Other eCommerce websites include consumer to consumer sites (C2C) like Ebay and Depop, and even highly successful consumer to business (C2B) eCommerce websites, where consumers post a project with a set budget and businesses bid to win it.
As the popularity of mobile devices continues to soar, eCommerce websites have evolved to be mobile-responsive. This helps to optimise websites to be viewed on mobile devices and enable people to make purchases more easily.
Social Media eCommerce
Social media has also become a crucial driver of eCommerce traffic, and platforms such as Instagram and Pinterest are having a huge impact on retail conversion rates either through organic (unpaid) or paid social advertising.
Benefits of having an eCommerce website
There are a number of different reasons why a business would choose to have an eCommerce website.
More online shoppers
In recent years more and more customers are browsing and purchasing items online, with UK online retail sales alone breaking the £50bn barrier last year. Figures also show that the number of eCommerce transactions occurring worldwide is increasing year on year, with a growth of 17 billion transactions between 2011-2015. With so many potential customers, it’s an obvious choice for businesses to have an online presence.
Because there are fewer costs associated with running an eCommerce site, businesses can pass on the savings to customers. This not only encourages more sales but can reduce overheads, making eCommerce websites a much more affordable option compared to a brick and mortar shop.
Higher customer satisfaction
There are numerous benefits for customers of eCommerce websites. Not only are prices generally cheaper due to lower overhead costs, but customers can often find a wider range of products online too. As a website, eCommerce stores effectively have no closing time either, so customers can buy whenever they want to 24/7 and enjoy the convenience of items delivered directly to their address.
Reach a wider audience
eCommerce websites allow small and medium sized businesses to expand their offering and reach a greater number of customers from different geographical locations. Taking your business online can help even the smallest business engage with a larger customer base, with no need to spend a fortune on advertising.
Advertising budgets stretch further
An eCommerce site opens up the door to many marketing opportunities for a much smaller budget than traditional advertising. By successfully optimising your website for search engines (SEO), you can drive more users to your website by what they are searching for online. You can also use social media to increase visits to your website or even spend some budget on paid advertising to target specific types of customers and encourage them to visit.
You’re not locked-in to a physical location
Some companies might never want to own a physical shop in the first place, so having an eCommerce site allows them to maximise their profits without the hassle of purchasing and managing a physical location. Operating an eCommerce website also potentially eliminates the need to employ multiple members of staff, which helps to reduce labour costs.
Examples of great eCommerce sites
Engaging, easy to navigate and eye catching, Missguided is the perfect eCommerce site for young female shoppers.
A visually engaging and responsive website design and layout puts Nike at the top of the eCommerce league table.
Apple always delivers exceptional work and their eCommerce website is another example of this.
What could be delicious than luxury chocolate? Locating exactly what you want via Hotel Chocolat’s user friendly eCommerce website.
Getting started with an eCommerce website
Now that you’ve learned about eCommerce, it’s time to get started and create your own eCommerce website.
Not sure where to begin? Don’t worry – our partners can help you out. All you need to do is complete the form at the top of the page.
Creating your site
Many people wonder how much an eCommerce website will cost to make, but the truth is it’s relatively affordable.
SquareSpace and WordPress offer simple, mobile-friendly and ready-to-go eCommerce templates that you can use to get your shop up and running immediately. These options can be very reasonably priced depending on the complexity and design of what you’re after.
You could also build your own, or invest in a developer who will create the site for you.
A major consideration when creating your eCommerce site, is which method you’ll use to accept payments. You’ll need a system that can handle both credit and debit cards, as well as popular digital payment methods like PayPal, Google Wallet or Square.
Consumer security is also fundamental, so make sure that you choose a legitimate company you can trust. Don’t forget that as your business grows, you can start to think about using more advanced and secure payment processing systems
Any eCommerce business selling physical goods will need to determine how it is going to deliver them to customers. PayPal and other processors work with shipping merchants, including USPS and UPS, to make it easier for you to process postage.
It’s recommended that you stick to national postage while you are finding your feet, then you can move onto overseas shipping once you have more experience.
Know the law
You may be required to obtain a permit for selling online or overseas. In the UK, eCommerce is regulated by the Electronic Commerce (EC Directive) Regulations 2002. This directive governs all eCommerce sites across Europe and is designed to safeguard consumers and boost confidence in online shopping.
As an online retailer, you are responsible for the large amount of sensitive consumer data submitted to your website, such as addresses, card details and contact information,.
You should also research any online advertising laws that may impact your business, such as copyright infringement laws. It’s definitely wise to know your facts before it’s too late. In addition to this, you will also have to determine how much tax you pay, plus how much VAT you charge on items.
As consumer shopping habits are consistently edging towards online, it is a good idea for every business to have an eCommerce website.
However, running an online shopping site can be a challenge which shouldn’t be taken lightly. If you are unsure as to what it entails, do your research and find out what you must do to comply with legal regulations before you create your site.
If you’re looking to create or redesign an eCommerce website, then Moodia can help. Tell us what you need in the form at the top of this page and we’ll match you to the best UK web designers for your business! It takes just 60 seconds to complete and could help you save up to 30% on the cost.