The United Kingdom is second only to Norway across Europe when it comes to online spending, with the average weekly spend in October being £1.2 billion (Monthly Business Survey, Retail Sales Inquiry, Office of National Statistics) this is an increase of 10.7% from the same time last year and accounts for 16.9% of all retail spending, this shows the trend in online sales continues to be growth and consumer habits are moving away from shopping in-store.

Figure 6 Contributions to year on year growth for the amount spent from online retail sectors

What does this mean for your business?

While your small retail business may be focused at selling to people in your local area, you still need to think about providing your customers with the opportunity to purchase online, an e-commerce website allows you to compete with not only your local competitors but also with larger retailers who have similar product offerings to yourself.

e-commerce can offer your small company big benefits:

  • You can track your customers, Analytics can show you where your customers are coming from which allows you to more effectively target your advertising and promotion
  • Selling online means you have a simple way to track your inventory and see which of your products are most popular and who is purchasing them.
  • You can expand your online store more easily than a building, trialing new products or services online means you can test expansion before committing to a larger physical premises.
  • Customer communication is easier online, a website gives your customers direct access to you and this can allow you to build positive relationships which lead to repeat business.
  • If your small retail business is in the Highlands & Islands, many of your customers may already live some distance from your physical shop an online product offering would allow them to not only purchase more often themselves but allow people in their area they reccommend you to access to your products without having to delay until they are having a shopping trip day.
  • It can mean larger orders - statistics show people buying online often end up buying more than one item
  • You can always be open - your website is open for business 24/7

 

E-commerce Doesn't have to cost the earth

For smaller businesses who worry about the cost of setting up an ec-commerce website online, technological advances means that setup costs are small comparatively to when e-commerce retailing first started to take off. There are many platforms out there, the Ecommerce Guide offers  platform reviews here giving you plenty of information of the most popular e-commerce options

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The key for a business venturing into e-commerce for the first time is to start small but here are some things to keep in mind when selecting your platform:

  • Always assume that you will expand and ensure that the platform you select allows for this
  • Make sure that the platform you select makes security a priority, people won't purchase from your website if they don't feel safe doing so
  • Make sure people can review your products - product reviews are crucial with 68% of women consulting product reviews before making the decision to purchase

What can you do to get started?

Get your products organised, often the delay in getting an e-commerce website online is that people underestimate the amount of time it takes to prepare their online products, start preparing yours now even getting the basics together will save time in the long run:

  • Clear well shot images of your products
  • Brief product summary
  • Extended product descriptions
  • Product code
  • Price

Need Some Help?

If you feel like you are ready to step into the world of online retailing but aren't sure where to start, get in touch with us to talk about your needs - from a design and build through to training we can help you make your online business a success.

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