E-Commerce stands for electronic commerce and means conducting business online including selling and buying products or services online and the online transfer of money. E-Commerce business can be in the B2B sector as well as in B2C and C2C business.
Why should your company conduct E-Commerce?
E-Commerce has been growing rapidly over the last few years with a growth rate in the US of 44% in 2020. The global E-Commerce sales in the B2C sector alone increased from US$ 3,35 Trillion in 2019, to US$ 4,28 Trillion in 2020. The global B2B E-Commerce market is estimated to be 5 times the size of the B2C E-Commerce market.
Benefits of conducting E-Commerce include:
- Gaining access to new markets and new customer bases.
- Helps with building a brand and increasing brand awareness.
- You can sell your products 24/7.
- Potential to greatly increase profits.
Top 10 Tips for SME E-Commerce Exporters:
- Know your Target Market.
Before you consider exporting internationally, it is crucial for you to know your target market and destination well. Figures you should research include the import/consumption figures, competition, demographics, and economic growth. By researching your potential customer base, you can boost sales and acquire better market penetration in your target market. Additionally, it can indicate to your business, which products are in demand, what economic trends the country might experience and can give you some insights on how to capitalise further in the new market.
- Localise your website.
When you adapt your website to suit your target market in a different country, it is called “localisation”. Key features that need to be localised are the language, currency, taxes, branding and payment methods. This will allow customers to compare prices and will make potential customers feel more at home.
- Build consumer trust..
Building consumer trust is key to successful E-Commerce. If your customers trust you, they are likely to become return customers and might share their positive experience with friends and family. A recent study by ‘Forbes’ found that 81% of customers indicated that their friends and family directly influence their purchase decisions. Features of your website that positively affect consumer trust are the physical appearance, usability, consistency and most importantly the platforms transparency. You can increase your websites transparency by using secure payment methods which are well known, by providing your customers with a person they can contact for queries and by providing live calculations and live tracking of shipments.
- Sell the experience, not just the product.
In the past 2 decades, the global economy has gone from a scarcity of goods to an economy of abundance. These days there is little that you can sell, that cannot be bought elsewhere. Therefore, it is important for you to focus on how you sell your product to make the purchase memorable for your customers. Thus, it is important for you to come up with creative ways to portray your products. If you succeed in making the journey to checkout simple and memorable for your customers, they are likely to become return customers. This is especially important in B2B business, where companies often rely on return customers.
- Choose the correct Route-to-Market
There are multiple ways you can get your product to a consumer, and it is important that you choose the right option for your business.
The options include:
- Selling directly.
- Use a sales agent.
- Use a distributer.
- Form a joint venture.
Each option has its pros and cons, but all can be beneficial in their own way. When it comes to selling directly to your customer, it is more profitable as you cut out the middleman (distributer or sales agent), but this means that you cannot share costs like advertising, marketing, and customer acquisition. If you decide to use a sales agent, it could be beneficial as sales agents often have credibility in foreign markets and can significantly reduce/simplify your cost structure. However, it can be difficult to control a sales agent and make sure they work hard on your behalf. When it comes to using a distributer, the main advantage is that you avoid the responsibility for logistics and other related issues, but as previously mentioned, the distributor also needs to be paid, which means less profit for you. If your business decides to form a joint venture, it could greatly increase your capacity to access foreign markets, as you now have access to greater resources. However, joint ventures can be risky if communication between partners is not good. Therefore, it is important to tread carefully.
- Prepare products correctly for export.
It is not uncommon for goods to get damaged while in transit. Even though it may not always be your business’s fault, there are certain steps you can follow to prevent damaged goods. You could consider getting insurance, but that may not always be the most viable option, as when your goods get damaged, they will need to be sent back to you for replacement. This means that your customer will have to wait longer, which might reflect negatively on their experience. Thus, it is important that you do your part in protecting your goods even if you have insurance.
You can prevent damaged goods by:
- Choosing the correct box.
- Wrapping each item carefully.
- Filling empty space in the package.
- Doing a trial run.
- Labelling the box as fragile.
- Build your brand.
In the E-Commerce space there is already a lot of competition, that is why it is vital for you to build a good brand, so you stick out.
Building a brand is simple, it involves:
- Discovering the purpose behind your brand.
- Researching competitors.
- Knowing what makes your business stand out from the competition.
- Determining your mission statement and vision statement.
- Determining your target audience/market.
- Outlining key benefits and qualities your brand offers.
- Use social media.
Nowadays, social media can play a vital role in getting your company's name recognised. It provides another channel through which potential customers can come across your business and is becoming a key part of company's marketing strategies. Social media allows you to connect and interact with customers, it increases awareness of your brand and can increase website traffic and sales.
- Reward return customers.
If you make it easy and exciting for customers to buy again, they are likely to become return customers. This can be done by sending coupons, offering a rewards program, sharing updates and specials and creating a pleasant mobile experience.
- Talk to your customers and know their needs.
Build a relationship with your customer base. Emailing your customers individually can be greatly beneficial, as you can fins out whether there are any other products that they wish your store stocked and how they are enjoying the products they have purchased. This will show your appreciation for your customer and might bring them back to your site in the future.
The worldwide E-Commerce business is showing strong growth over the last years and it is predicted to continue this growth over the next years. Whether your business is in the B2C or B2B market, you should consider moving your business online to benefit from the potential of the E-Commerce market.