An E-Commerce Guide: Traditional Shopkeeper to Online Retailer
With the e-commerce industry booming, the days of the local shop, serving its offerings to the local people has shifted to a more global model. But exactly what has changed?
81% of all purchase decisions now start with an internet search. The results shown from that search, are not just product information but a convenient opportunity to buy.
We’ve put together this e-commerce guide to help those who:
- Work in a retail business with no e-commerce
- Work in a retail business with limited e-commerce channels
- Currently run an e-commerce business but are spending more than 3 hours a week manual managing your process
What is working smarter?
- Efficient and effective processes and behaviours
- Using software, automation and outsourcing to reduce workload and increase profitability
- Avoiding busy work, prioritising important work
To the latter, data entry and filing does not qualify as important work.
While these tasks obviously need to be done, they are not activities that push your business forward or that require your brain power.
“The greatest enemy of progress is not stagnation, but false progress.” Sydney J. Harris
New Horizons (Replacing the old dusty till)
Technology, software and automation used by the modern retailer:
Retail has been at the focus of many great software companies, looking to bridge the gap between brick and mortar stores and e-commerce environments. Vend, Shopify and Airsquare have all seen this coming, creating systems that cover EPOS, E-commerce and even stock.
Some of the key benefits of EPOS:
- Built-in reporting
- Card readers with no initial cost or long-term contracts
- No long-term contracts (the standard is 30-day rolling contracts)
- Integrate with stock, e-commerce and accounts
Integrated Cloud Stock System
Cloud stock/inventory systems link with your EPOS, E-commerce and Accounts. This means that your stock levels are live and always up-to-date.
Have revolutionised SME business software and accounting. Products like Xero make staying on top of your day-to-day accounts easy.
Step 1 – Picking Your E-commerce Platform:
The most important feature from an e-commerce platform is user-friendliness and the ability to self-manage.
Platforms such as Rocket Spark, Shopify, WooCommerce, BigCommerce or Airsquare are great.
Step 2 – Setting-up Your Online Store:
Another advantage of these websites is they provide guides on how to set-up your new e-commerce website including how to import and update products as well as best practices to help you get the most from day one.
Step 3 – Online Marketplaces:
There are several places you can sell your goods online alongside your main website. Places like Amazon, eBay, Etsy and Not On The High Street are examples of this. Simply set-up a sellers account, list your goods and start selling.
There are many benefits of using online marketplace:
- Audience – Each platform provides an audience, Amazon for example, has over 304 million active user accounts. By joining a seller, you can get your products in front of this huge audience.
- Find your niche – Sites like Etsy, Folksy and other smaller sites are a great avenue for sellers of niche goods.
- Reach – Open your offerings to the world as the marketplaces attract a worldwide audience who you can supply.
- Marketing – Not only do the new customers that you bring in through the marketplace become part of your client base, but your products can be pushed in front of potential buyers with features like “people who bought this also bought”.
- Trust – Being part of an established online marketplace provides a level of trust between you and the buyer.
Step 4 – Integrated Stock:
Your cloud stock and accounting systems will become the hub of your business.
Cloud stock/inventory systems link with your EPOS, E-commerce and online marketplaces. This means that your stock levels are live and allowing for reliable stock levels, live stock levels on websites and automating purchasing.
Step 5 (optional) – Wholesale Order Platforms:
A great development for hybrid wholesalers (those who sell both retail and wholesale) as now you can offer your wholesale clients a value-adding ordering portal, which makes ordering easier for them and managing it becomes largely automated for you.
Step 6 – Integrated Cloud Accounting:
Along with stock, the accounting element is at the core of your cloud e-commerce environment. While the stock/inventory software becomes the core of all your goods, sales and purchasing, your cloud accounts package is your financial centre where you can check invoice, view reports and reconcile your bank.
When set-up correctly these will be the areas you will do all your work.
The future is bright for small businesses as new global opportunities open to companies of all sizes, new cloud software improves work habits and automation becomes commonplace.
The vast majority of first-time retailers now start selling online first. It is more accessible and cost-effective than leasing and fitting out a brick and mortar, you reach a much larger audience for far less cost and you can manage your business at your convenience, your e-commerce store is open 24/7 but you may only need to work just a few hours a week to manage that.
Traditional small retail businesses have a till system, requiring a manual cash-up at the end of the day. This information is either input into an accounting system like Sage or into Excel spreadsheets.
Stock too is usually managed manually on spreadsheets, taking regular stock checks to update and then manually raising purchase orders where required.
These different systems are usually linked together through manual data entry only. Which is great right!? There is nothing like a long evening of data entry after a busy day working in your shop to relax and love life…