There’s never been a better time to sell products online. Every week brings new platforms and marketplaces on which to sell, and technology has afforded us speed and access that were simply unimaginable just a few years ago. Yet with every additional improvement to online selling, it’s easy to become overwhelmed and discouraged by the lumbering moving target the marketplace has become. Here are some trends worth addressing and a few simple ways to steer clear of shark-infested waters.
Thanks to advances in technology in software, hardware, accessibility, and globalized distribution, it is now incredibly cheap, easy, and fast to sell online. In the past, larger more high-level organizations have dominated the e-commerce industry, and it was very difficult to challenge them or level the playing field. While there are certainly a few big guys looming large in the marketplace, it’s easier than ever for people with new ideas to start and to grow businesses. There is an appetite in both the entrepreneurial and buying communities for new, innovative, and transformational solutions. Folks are out there figuring out how to fix problems, to create and find more efficient products, and to bring more customer joy. The e-commerce market has expanded as a result and this disruption is a huge paradigm shift.
The challenge created by this extremely complex eco-system is for sellers to be really clear on their business fundamentals: What’s the problem you’re trying to solve? How do you intend to solve the problem? Who’s your target market and where do they shop? Taking ownership of these answers can save you from losing focus and suddenly finding yourself out to sea.
As a tsunami of digitization sweeps across the globe, it becomes both easier and more difficult to share, communicate, and use data. The sheer volume of data has made it crucial to create systems that connect it all, so it’s easier and more effective to use. Fortunately we’ve seen a new sophistication of platforms and systems on the back-end and a refreshing simplicity has been created on the front end, so people can make smarter decisions. Gone are the days when you'd expect to have a room full of people doing your analytics and importing and exporting data. There's an expectation now that systems should talk, data should work, and transactions should flow effectively from a consumer standpoint.
Regardless of your business size, it's possible to make data work for you. There are now business tools in place that make it incredibly simple and easy to find the data you need and gain insight from that data even if your sales are spread across multiple channels. It can be as simple as getting to know repeat customers and identifying your most profitable item or as complex as predicting when sales might dip in 2016. Either way, data can be a real lifesaver.
There is a profound change occurring in the public’s expectation of making transactions in the marketplace. Today people expect that at any time, in any place, in any way, they should be able to transact. That could mean comparing prices, buying goods, running their business, managing their distributions, or tracking a shipment. Both consumers and sellers expect that on any device—desktop, laptop, iPhone, watch, tablet, reader, and now via the “buy” button on social media—they should have access to all e-commerce transactions in real time.
Take a look at your shoppers’ experience from a functional level. Shop on your own store and channels from various devices and platforms and introduce sharing options to each transaction. It’s a worthwhile investment to make sure your sales are optimized for any device.
We’re becoming more aware in the aggregate, and also at the detailed level, of what people are buying and selling and also how, where, and why they’re transacting. When you overlay the globalization of technology with socialization of technology, things get very interesting: A girl buys a sweater on Pinterest and all her friends can see it, so they might go and buy it, too. With what’s happening on YouTube, anyone with a mobile phone is now a publisher. They’re creating their own content, sharing it, marketing it, and turning it into a business, which in turn influences and expands the e-commerce marketplace.
All data love aside, see where you might be able to inject a bit of consumer joy or personal interaction to the buyers’ experience. The life-changing magic of social interaction cannot be predicted, underestimated, or found on a spreadsheet. And to this point, take a moment to remember why you began selling in the first place. Whether you’re just making ends meet or building an empire, sometimes stepping out of the minutia and getting back to your passion is the tiny ripple in the water that leads to a tidal wave of sales.
Learn more about streamlining your business operations by integrating your online sales channels with back-end systems, download the white paper Top 5 Ways to Conquer Multi-Channel Challenges.
Presented by Webgility, Inc.
Steven Power is the former President of Bigcommerce.com and serves as Executive Advisor at Webgility, Inc. Webgility connects and unifies multi-channel companies to have better perspective and make smarter decisions. Our solutions help e-commerce owners improve productivity, see and understand their financials, increase profits, and get back to doing what inspires them.