All of us know online shopping or the form of electronic commerce that allows consumers to directly buy goods and services from a seller over the internet using a web browser or mobile app, is experiencing growth like never. Almost all the netizens prefer to research products online and buy things of their requirement. Almost 10% of total retail sales may account for online sales depending on the region and the nature of products.
The market research firm eMarketer analyzing digital transformation of marketing, media and commerce estimate that global eCommerce will rise 20.7% in 2019 up to $3.535 trillion. Online shopping is experiencing growth, especially in developing countries although this might differ region-wise and product-wise. It is a strong growing domain showing no signs of decline. Also, with the increasing use of smartphones, buying through mobile apps is showing an increasing trend. According to data provided by Eurostat, online shopping shows the biggest growth among young individuals in their early twenties.
How can online stores be a better experience?
It is easy to buy and cancel online transactions from the comfort of one's own homes or workplace or for that matter from any convenient location. It saves time, gives competitive prices, detailed information of product, reviews of products, product and price comparisons, and overall customer satisfaction. The benefits of convenience outweigh the disadvantage of lack of the touch and feel of the product of purchase.
Does that mean every retailer should opt for an online store?
Yes, it is a great idea to start the online way as it helps catering to a wider range of customers with some niche featured products to start with. Customers prefer to visit the website to find out about products and services offered.
Online selling either happens through an online marketplace such as Amazon sales platform or a self-owned online store. Owning an online store can help to maintain a customer database, returning customers, having a good inventory management tool to prevent sending out wrong items, setting up of Stock Keeping Unit (SKU) to the products one is selling. One can also get a report on the inventory with just a click and receive notifications when the stock is low. These advantages can justify the owning of an online store rather than selling through an online marketplace.
What can be the limitations?
Online stores no doubt would take sales to new customers every day, however business can also easily go away to a competitor if customers experience poor customer service or excellence compromised. Ecommerce retailers must strive for excellence when it comes to experience, products, delivery, and service.
Does the online boom mean a slow death for the brick-and-mortar store?
With the growth of online shopping, it has also been highlighted that this increasing trend of buying and selling through the internet might be the cause for the slow death of the bricks -and -mortar retailing meaning the physical stores. However, this has never been proved. Online stores still represent only a small portion of total retail sales. This means that retail stores still have a significant contribution to sales. Physical stores help customer experience the look and feel especially for non-digital goods. They are highly useful for brand building.
Former Macy’s CEO Terry Lundgren says “9 times out of 10 across all retail, including food, consumers are still choosing in-store shopping over online.” One of the challenges for a physical store might be the price of the goods as compared to its online counterpart.
What is the ideal way?
The trick to surviving the current retail disruption may not be as simple as moving a shop online, said former Macy’s CEO, Terry Lundgren. Instead, Lundgren said, retailers, today need to have a presence in both worlds. The current retail disruption in some cases is not proof of going online altogether. The best way to survive is to have a presence in an online store or website as well as a physical store to improve a clientele.
How to build an online store?
One can either hire programmers to build an online store or hire an agency to help them build one. Although eCommerce software are available for the purpose, one would still need professional expertise in setting it up and customizing it to fulfill business needs.
It seems like we are all set for an online store.
By Swaleh Saigal
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