5 New Website Essentials - eCommerce
Posted by Matthew Foster in Top 5s on 14 May 2014 at 09:45
Have you ever bought something online? I’m guessing the answer is yes. And you are not alone. According to internetretailing.net (http://internetretailing.net/2014/01/uk-shoppers-spent-91bn-online-in-2013-and-look-set-to-spent-107bn-in-2014/) the UK alone spent 91 billion pounds online in 2013 and are set to spend an incredible 107 billion online in 2014. To break that down, that is just under £204,000 a minute which UK shoppers are spending online, through websites with eCommerce solutions.
By now you’ve probably worked out that number three in our top five website must haves is eCommerce. With an estimated 21% of all UK purchases now being made online, to not offer an eCommerce solution is a serious handicap to your business, something that your customers are unlikely to forgive.
So why don’t all business websites offer eCommerce? In our experience there are a number of reasons, the most common of which include presumed cost, a lack of knowledge, a lack of time or the fact that an eCommerce model doesn’t apply to their website. We’ll look more at these reasons now.
There are a number of costs associated with eCommerce. Firstly there is the integration of eCommerce into your website. However this need not be prohibitively expensive. eCommerce solutions such as PayPal and Worldpay do not require you to host the processing software on your site or build a payment platform, or carry a credit card machine in your pocket wherever you go. Instead customers using them can be taken off of your site onto their secure payment portals, then back to your site in a seamless payment process. Putting an eCommerce solution on your website does not have to involve paying a development team to rebuild Amazon for you! With eCommerce becoming more common, eCommerce solutions are becoming simpler and easier to implement. With a little shopping around, you can realistically look at getting a simple eCommerce solution onto your website for well under a thousand pounds. As with most things, it all depends on what you need. Having a conversation with a web design agency you can trust will give you a better idea.
The other cost associated with eCommerce are the transaction fees. Again these are much the same as people who begin to take credit/debit card payment. Initially giving a small percentage of everything you take seems to eat into your profit margin. However consider the other payment channels. Cash needs to be banked and so incurs a cost of time and travel to the bank. Cheques also have to be banked, plus take an age to clear, no use when you have a pressing bill to pay. Also cash and cheques generally require you to either collect them or trust them to the postal service, further stress and potential travel costs, plus further delays in getting the money in the bank. BACS payments are great, but they require a customer with modicum of internet savvy to be able to do it, plus they require you to check your bank account to see if the money has gone in. More time and delays. Now consider if you were using eCommerce. Customers can pay immediately via your website, plus you’ll get an email confirming the money has been paid. No travel. No waiting for money to clear. Does that not sound tempting?
Lack of Knowledge or Time
As with any new technology, there will be a certain amount of upskilling required when you start to use eCommerce. However this is mitigated by having a decent development team, who can keep the time spent and additional knowledge required to a minimum. As an example, we recently installed an eCommerce platform onto a website, the team behind it are a fantastic group but, by their own admission, not the most technologically adept people in the world! Being honest that’s putting it mildly. However we installed an eCommerce platform that requires pretty much no interaction from the site owners, it literally just emails them when money comes in. It does still require them to check emails of course, but that’s another story!
"But the eCommerce model doesn’t apply to my website.."
This can sometimes be a fair point. However, are you sure? Obviously, if you don’t sell anything then this is a no brainer, or is it. What if you run a charity website? Assumably you are reliant on donations and one function of the website is to garner support from the visitors. Offering them a simple way to donate online can be a powerful tool, as it catches them ‘in the moment’ so to speak, whilst they are reading about the site then they can easily donate and support the work they are reading about in real time. What about if everything you create is bespoke, so no standardised pricing? There are a couple of things to consider here. Firstly, offer a payment solution on your website for people to pay invoices through, making it easier and simpler for them to pay you. Secondly, why not offer an ‘intro service’ of some sort at a fixed price, which customers can book online. If you have a particular skill set, offer an audit in that area for a fixed price, to draw your customers in. Once they have made that initial purchase, the rest of the sales process becomes much easier and they are much less likely to go elsewhere.
In conclusion, eCommerce is only going to grow. It’s a great opportunity for your business to take advantage of, in varying forms. Speak to your web design team for more options or for ideas on how to move forward.