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Getting Started with Online Retail

[ Edited ]
Google Employee
# 1
Google Employee

Getting Started with Online Retail

with Shopify

 

According to Forrester, e-retail sales in the US are expected to grow 57% in the next few years. For small businesses, this represents an opportunity to get new customers or reach your existing ones in different ways. Shopify joined the Google Small Business Community to discuss how you can expand your business by getting started with online retail.

 

 

Getting Started with Online Retail

E-commerce gives you the tools to reach the 200 million customers shopping online. Shopify explains how.

 

Forrester stated that U.S. e-retail sales are expected to grow from $263 billion in 2013 to $414 billion in 2018. If businesses don’t have an online presence, they’re losing out on huge revenue. The biggest misconception about selling your products and services online is that it’s too hard, but it’s actually easier than you think.

 

The first step a small business should take is researching the various e-commerce platforms available on the market today. Most platforms will handle the website, payment gateway, order management, inventory and customer information. There are many tools and guides to help you sell once your store is set up.

 

Creating an online store is just the beginning. Just like a physical store, you need to drive traffic to your online store to begin selling.You can do this with SEO, social media marketing, Google AdWords, content marketing and great product photography.

 

“There’s no better time than now for entrepreneurs to start selling online.”

Harley Finkelstein, Chief Platform Officer, Shopify

 

Selling on Amazon, eBay or Etsy is different than selling on your own website. When you use an e-commerce platform, you’re essentially creating a home for your brand. On other platforms, you’re renting space from them, and there’s very little mention of your brand. With your own online store, you also own your customer’s experience and data.

 

The cost of failure trends toward zero in ecommerce. With an online storefront, it’s easier and cheaper to experiment and try new things than it is to renovate your physical store.

 

Originally published February, 2015

3 Expert replyverified_user

Re: Getting Started with Online Retail

A G
Follower ✭ ☆ ☆
# 2
A G
Follower ✭ ☆ ☆
@Brielle B thanks for sharing. Do you think that with the growth of online retail we will see a significant decline in brick and mortar retail businesses?

Re: Getting Started with Online Retail

Google Employee
# 3
Google Employee

That's a great question, @A G! Personally, I think that the constant increase in ecommerce transactions may affect certain types of businesses, but there's definitely still a place for brick-and-mortar retail. Ecommerce can be more enticing to newer business owners as there's less overhead (don't need to rent a location, install fixtures, etc.). It can seem difficult to compete with the big online retailers (especially if they're offering similar products) but you can't ignore the convenience of being able to take a ride and pick up exactly what you need, when you need it (no matter how great 2-day shipping is).

 

I definitely think it's wise for existing brick-and-mortar business owners to make sure that their business has an online presence (and a website, especially), but obviously not everyone needs to go with a full ecommerce, online store experience. Doing so can open a totally different can of worms when it comes to handling sales (being able to provide online support, working out the logistics of shipping product, etc.). I think that many (if not most) small businesses will still get the most out of focusing on local optimization - bringing potential customers into their brick-and-mortar stores!

 

Besides, brick-and-mortars are the awesome foundation of American small business! I read a great article this morning from Inc. which discussed the possibilities of taking advantage of the huge popularity of the latest trendy mobile game Pokemon Go to drive potential customers to your small business (here's the article). There's certainly many ways to drive traffic to an ecommerce site (email newsletters, good SEO, online coupons, etc.) but I love that there's also great opportunities like this that a local small business can take advantage of to attract new customers!

 

This morning, we shared a great blog article that brought attention to the fact that many vacationers don't really decide on activities until they've already arrived at their destination. This means its important to make sure your small business can get found online when people start pulling out their phone and doing local searches. Making sure your business hours are updated and business info is correct, knowing what's going on around your small business (events, popular travel destinations, etc.), recognizing possible promotional opportunities - definitely some advantages of a being a brick-and-mortar small business, wouldn't you say?

Re: Getting Started with Online Retail

A G
Follower ✭ ☆ ☆
# 4
A G
Follower ✭ ☆ ☆
@Brielle B great points. I believe as millennials have a greater role in the work space it is inevitable that an online presence will increase. More and more innovative ways are being found to connect with customers. You can now text or tweet to order a pizza and a robot might deliver said pizza. I read an article that Dominos is introducing DRU a robotic delivery service in Brisbane. I believe if businesses are able to intertwine the core values of their business with what is current they will not only keep ties with loyal customers but gain connections with new ones. We actually noted PokemonGo's influence on businesses in a HARO request. Thanks for sharing the articles!

Re: Getting Started with Online Retail

Google Small Business Advisor
# 5
Google Small Business Advisor

@Brielle B - Shopify is a great platform for anyone that has a physical store but no ecommerce platform yet, to get started. It's so simple to upload products!

Re: Getting Started with Online Retail

Top Contributor
# 6
Top Contributor
I don't think it will matter for many small businesses who's location is necessary to do their business such as a coffee shop or restaurant car repair facility etc.

For other brick-and-mortar businesses though it can phenomenally expand the geographic area that they serve assuming that their products are suited to be sold and distributed from the web .

In the past the big box stores and national chains really hurt local businesses by competing in the local market with small businesses who could not compete in the wider National market
The Internet has turned the tables enabling small businesses to compete nationally .

The same is true in the music industry the web has allowed unknown acts. Do you have access to the global stage. The downside is that everyone has access to the global stage baking competition very fierce. The solution is making use of skillful marketing methods and advertising on platforms such as Adwords.