Advantages and Disadvantages of e-Commerce

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image: NoPanteZ

Other than porn, what else do people go online for? Yes, shopping. And yes, some of them shop for the porn.

e-Commerce has in fact become one of the most popular activities on the web. According to Forrester, online retail sales will grow to $250 billion by 2014. That stats alone gives us an insight on how good e-commerce is. And it IS good. There are many benefits an online store can offer to the owner and the customers, which the ‘brick and mortar’ stores could never have.

Advantages of e-Commerce

Business Hours: 24/7

Online store opens 24/7. Even while you’re sleeping, your customers can visit your store and browse your products and place their orders.

Global Location

Your store is located… well, online. It means everyone with internet connection, from a countryside in England to a big city in China to the jungle of Kalimantan, can visit your store without you having retailers on those places.

You, on other hand, can manage your store almost anywhere you want. Even on the go!

Niche Products

Seriously, you can sell almost anything on the web. Even if your products are targeted to smaller market, like dentures, the buyers are out there, somewhere, on the net.

Lemme present to you this really cool story…

Once upon a time there was this awesome dude, Pierre Omidyar, living in San Jose, California. He coded a simple site called AuctionWeb. Curious if people would bid on each other’s used items, he sold his broken laser pointer online. And someone actually bid it for $14.83!

Omidyar sent an e-mail to the buyer. He wanted to make sure the buyer really knew he had bought a junk. Well, what do you know? “I’m a collector of broken laser pointers.” The site has eventually been known as… eBay.

Lower Transaction Costs

With a well-implemented online store you can automate many things. By automatization you can cut the costs on areas like documents preparation, error detection and correction, mail order catalogs, phone calls and labor costs.

If your products or services are downloadable, you’ll have distribution costs completely cut off.

Easy Shelves Arrangement

If you have, say, more than 1,000 products on your store, would it be nice if you could arrange the “shelves” within minutes? Well, with online store it’s really easy.

You can also highlight feature products with few clicks. Doing so might increase the conversion rate.

Convenient Shopping

From your customers’ perspectives, shopping online would be really cool because:

  • They don’t need to physically be on the store; they can browse through your products in pyjamas, laying lazily on bed
  • They save more time and gas
  • They can browse through many products within minutes
  • They can compare prices easily
  • They can choose preferred payment gateway your online store offers
  • They can provide their important information (i.e. credit card number) more securely
  • They can do all those stuff above on the go
  • For certain products they can have better deals

Larger Purchases per Transaction

Amazon has it, other great online stores have it, and your online store should have it, too. It’s called cross sales.

With cross sales feature enabled, when a buyer views a product, he’ll see what other people who ordered the product also purchased. That way he can see related products bought by other people. If he likes those products, he’ll buy them, too. And you’ll have your sweetest smile, won’t you?

Improved Customer Interactions

Visitors are good, repeat visitors are better, but repeat visitors who actually buy from the store are the ones you really want. So you need to plan and implement the best marketing strategies for your online store.

Good news is, you can do it quite easily.

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  • Social networking sites can be your way to create the buzz about your online store. You can sign up for free on these sites, but advertising on them might cost you a bit.
  • RSS feeds for blog updates helps your customers get the latest news about upcoming products, new products, best deals, new offers and more.
  • Comment form is another way to actually interact with your customers.
  • Online advertising networks help you to attract more visitors to come to your stores.
  • Generating coupons and discounts might just be the right strategy to convert visitors into buyers.

Those are few of marketing strategies you can do instantly. There are plenty more, of course, you’ll just have to try and learn.

Transactions Recording

A good business means a good transactions recording. And with online store you can automate it. No need to hire an employee for the job, every online activities your customers engage in your store will be recorded.

You can also view the records to analyze the growth of your store.

However, e-commerce also has several drawbacks.

Disadvantages of e-Commerce

Shipping Takes Time

If you sell physical goods, shipping it halfway round the world might take several days, weeks or even more. It means you cannot send certain products as fresh food or dairy products. Who on earth would love to have stale bread delivered to his door?

A Solving Idea:
Browse through your products. Pick the ones you can easily deliver, highlight them on your online store. While products that cannot be easily delivered are the ones you should sell on your physical store, with your online store functioned as its promotional media.

Shipping Costs More

The basic shipping cost rule is simple: the more the weight, the more the cost. If you sell a couch to someone on another continent, the shipping cost would be ridiculous.

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image: ahhyeah

A Solving Idea:
Offer an irresistible deal on bulk purchase.

Doubts and Fears

Many people don’t understand the awesomeness of shopping online. They are too afraid to buy something on the web because they doubt if the store is reliable, curious if the product is as good as it looks like on the site, afraid that you would steal their money.

Doubts and fears are human basic instincts. Embrace them to deal with them.

A Solving Idea:
Write blog posts, newsletters or FAQs about how reliable your store is, about how you are going to deal with customers’ complaints and feedbacks, about how and when they can contact you. Provide security as everyone needs to feel secured.

Inability to Feel the Physical

Online store doesn’t provide the opportunity to actually touch, wear or sit on the product. Therefore selling such products as apparel and furniture online might be tricky.

A Solving Idea:
Provide the most comprehensive and complete product description. If doable, provide demos of the products.

Harmful Malicious Codes

The server backing up your online store might be infected by malicious codes. If that’s the case, your online store might be the “hellgate” that sends those little devils to your customers’ computers.

A Solving Idea:
Choose the most reliable server provider. It might cost you, but the risk of having an infected server would cost you even more.

Shopping is Social Experience

People love to shop in the mall because it gives them an opportunity to have fun with friends and family. It’s something online stores lack of.

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A Solving Idea:
Integrate social element into your online store. If matched with your products, some interactive games will do no harm.

Too Many Competitors

Yes, you can easily create an online store. Using our WordPress e-commerce themes you can even do it in less than 5 minutes.

Problem is, everyone else can, too.

If there are thousands of online stores selling similar products, how can you attract visitors so they actually buy from you and not from others?

A Solving Idea:
As any other business form, you need to be great in such element as business plan, marketing, sales, customer support and others. That way you’ll have your online store standing out in the crowd. And as any other successful businessman, you’ll just need to keep learning. Dare yourself to try new, unexplored business moves. Never be too prideful to do the cliches as they are… well, proven to be good.

Now that you have understand the advantages and the disadvantages of e-commerce, you should be ready to open your very own online store. Check out our WordPress e-commerce themes so you can have a beautiful one easily.

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