So you own a small or medium enterprise, and are looking for an eCommerce platform to get your business online. Care to take a guess what are the numbers projected for eCommerce sales. 100,000? Or maybe in the millions? Not even close.
In fact, The Straits Times reported that online sales hit $8 billion in Singapore in 2021.This trend continues in 2022, with Southeast Asia’s e-commerce gross merchandise value forecasted to nearly double to US$254 billion in five years. The report also showed that Singapore alone added 70 million new digital shoppers since the start of the pandemic.
Unsurprisingly, mobile commerce is expected to overtake desktop sales as the most popular channel for online sales. Online shoppers are buying on every digital platform, and marketing managers have realised how crucial it is to be omnipresent, and differentiate their content offering from their competition.
Last year, brand storytelling became the differentiating factor to help businesses reach their customers. 81% of marketers in a survey have said that rich brand-related content drove their eCommerce sales on every platform.
Consumers are also wary about sharing their data online. Retailers need to build their customers’ trust by choosing secured eCommerce platforms and being transparent about how their customers’ data is used. With online sales heating up, businesses that are not online stand to lose out.
But first, you need to know how to choose a suitable eCommerce platform as a business owner.
What is e-commerce?According to Investopedia, the term electronic commerce (eCommerce) refers to” a business model that allows companies and individuals to buy and sell goods and services over the Internet.” E-commerce can take place over any digital device: computers, tablets, smartphones, and other smart devices.
The way forward: Online salesDigitalisation within the company and providing a seamless customer experience is the way for businesses to future proof themselves.
Even before working from home became the new normal, digital technology was transforming how work is done. In these new technology-enabled roles, employees can work remotely and still be productive.
The online sales experience also shapes the customer decision journey. Customers now have many options to research new products and services. Digital channels are crucial for promotions, sales, and increasing market share. Google’s parent company Alphabet recently announced a 41% jump in revenue from ad sales, a vital sign that retailers believe in advertising to reach new customers.
According to research from Mckinsey, two-thirds of the decisions customers make are based on the quality of their digital experiences.
With this in mind, choosing the right eCommerce platform is one way forward.
Before you choose your e-commerce platform, define your business needs and goals. Business needs are the organisation’s basic requirements and are implemented when a business employs people, carries out projects, reorganises operations, and purchases goods.
Your business goals determine your needs and the requirements you need to meet. It also reflects the problems that the company needs to solve to reach its future goals.
Business goals represent a company’s larger purpose for all employees to work together and achieve. These are broad outcomes that the company wants to reach in a fixed time eventually, and they can be set up differently for individuals, departments and the entire company.
For instance, a company may have a business goal to create a customer-friendly digital interface. To do so, it needs to delegate access to authorised parties properly. Based on this need, the company can consider looking for new or existing market opportunities and technology that will help them to achieve this.
By setting clear business goals, you keep your employees on the same page and provide a way to measure success. It also helps you to streamline your business operations and sets future targets.
Let’s take a look at the food and beverage (F&B) industry as an example of how you can define business goals and needs, and how this affects your choice of eCommerce platforms.
Food and beverageThe food and beverage industry has three common goals: to increase profit and revenue, improve employee performance, and achieve effective business growth.
To increase profit and revenue, restaurants need to understand their finances and choose a cost-focus strategy since the industry faces the challenge of overcoming low-profit margins.
One aspect of an effective cost-focus strategy is to improve inventory management. Food waste and shrinkage, which reduce profits, can increase costs, so knowing your stock levels helps. Using a smart point-of-sale system that syncs to your inventory management system allows you to enter precisely the amount of ingredients used per dish. With every sale entered into the till your master inventory will update and provide you with an accurate picture of when and how often you sell certain items.
Retail and beautyIt’s been a lacklustre year for retail sales in the beauty industry.
According to reports, overall retail sales – skincare, colour cosmetics, haircare, fragrances and personal care- had declined by 15%.
The industry has pivoted by offering essential products like hand sanitisers, but its core business products are experiencing sluggish sales.
There are some attractive figures, though. McKinsey reports that in May 2020, Sephora’s US online sales are reportedly up 30 per cent versus 2019, as were Amazon’s beauty-product sales for the four weeks ending April 11. In China, McKinsey research has seen online revenues for beauty-industry players rise 20 to 30 per cent.
The industry has always been resilient generally, but it looks like the critical business goal now is to review e-commerce opportunities and strategies. Experts say that offering customised service online through social selling is one way of reaching out to consumers. An eCommerce platform that allows you to create blogs and newsletters can keep your consumers informed and feel connected with the brand.
The third step is for businesses to define their budget when moving online.
You will need to consider the cost of the eCommerce platform. Some platforms charge yearly fees, while others charge a monthly subscription.
You also need to factor in design, and development costs, as you need to decide whether you prefer pre-designed templates or hire a designer to custom make your brand’s website.
Additionally, businesses need to consider ongoing variable costs such as maintenance fees, transaction fees and hosting fees.
Digitalising looks different in every industry. Ultimately, knowing your goals, needs and budget will help you choose the best platform.
The next option to consider is how you would like to host your eCommerce platform.
A hosted website is built on a website builder such as Shopify. These are platforms that have an all-in-one website solution. They provide what you need to make your website, including pre-designed templates. But you’re limited to using their tools and templates, and you have limited customisation space.
A self-hosted website option allows you to download software and modify the site as you like. You will need the technical knowledge or hire a website developer to open an account with a website host. If you have the know-how, you can easily integrate plug-ins like WooCommerce with WordPress (a self-hosting platform) to create the eCommerce solution that you want.
Finally, whether you use Shopify or WooCommerce, you will want a smart point-of-sale (POS) system that seamlessly integrates with both. That way, you can be more efficient in tracking online and offline sales.
Lastly, start a free trial and ask the right questions. Connect with sales and support staff to sort your doubts. A free trial helps.
You can consider questions such as:
ClosingWhether you are a small-medium enterprise or a large corporation, consider your business needs and goals to choose an agile point of sale(POS) partner when you get ready to take the next digital leap.
Qashier solutions offer a smart POS system that integrates with popular eCommerce platforms such as Xero, Shopify and WooCommerce.It helps you manage your inventory whether your customers purchase your goods and services online or go to a retail outlet.
This seamless integration helps future-proof businesses. As an all-in-one payment system that does everything from accepting cashless payments and managing your inventory, to tracking employee sales and launching customer loyalty programs, Qashier POS makes running your business effortless.
An out-of-the-box, plug-and-play business solution will take care of your payment needs, leaving you to focus on what matters most.
Speak to us to see if Qashier’s Smart POS can meet your business needs. Schedule a meeting with us here, call us at (+65) 3165 0155, WhatsApp (+65) 8882 8912, or email [email protected]/sg.