Let’s imagine two friends – Bob and Ross from the town of Splashville -who decide to start two similar businesses with $1000. Bob spends all of his money to set up a brick and mortar store, purchase inventory and create some marketing material. Ross, on the other hand, puts up a smaller store with $500 and spends the rest $500 on setting up an online store.
They start similar and Bob picks up a business faster because of the marketing flyers and posters. Bob’s customers are mostly from in and around Splashville where he has focused his marketing. Ross starts slow as she did not spend much on marketing in Splashville. Slowly, as time progresses, this changes. Bob’s customers remain to be the Splashville population while Ross picks up customers from across the country. She starts getting orders from the neighbouring towns and even states where she did targeted marketing.
Eventually, Ross grows her business larger and might even become a national brand one day. Now, Bob, Ross and Splashville might be just characters but this story isn’t unheard of.
The question of whether you should take your business online isn’t relevant today. The relevant question is where to take it. For a normal vendor, the following are the feasible options
- Go the eBay way
- Go Shopify
- Go independent
Now, each of the above options has its pros and cons. However, in the long run, it is always better to be independent or at least have an independent store set up even if you choose to go with (1) or (2). Let us examine why.
1 . Go the eBay way
This could be the most popular and easiest way. Sign up on eBay, Amazon or Flipkart. The platforms let you list your products with almost zero effort. They advertise your products, lets customers purchase them and pay you the amount after taking a platform commission. Sounds easy, right?
The catch comes when your customer complaints or requests a return. Since all these platforms are customer-driven, there are high chances of the vendor losing out on the money due to fraudulent claims and returns. There are several stories where the customers return a block of stones or scrap and claim returns. In almost all cases, the vendor ends up on the losing side and this happens more often than you’d like to believe.
Also, in a multi-vendor platform, you are placed at the same level as your competitors and you can do only so much to standout. Most customers come looking for the product at the cheapest price available and if yours is not the cheapest option available, you lose out on the sale. The platform is curated in such a way that successful sellers get more business. This could hurt a newcomer as they do not have enough sales or reviews to show.
2. Go Shopify
Recent times has seen a huge increase in Shopify websites. Shopify is a wonderful platform and helps small scale businesses to kick start their online business without any delay. The platform gives you a unique domain name which you can market. It also helps you consolidate your stock, orders and your offline sales as well with their POS system.
This is very advantageous for small businesses who want to invest the minimum on software and online stores. While Shopify plans start at $29 per month, as you scale, you would soon end up paying $299 per month. If you have considerable online and offline sales, this might not seem like a small amount but you are paying $3000 per year for your online store and POS. As time progresses, you end up paying more than you should for your software in the beginning.
Now, this sounds like the hard way but with the right technology partner, this is the right way to do it. A business that wants to set up an online store should have a very competent technology partner who can do it for them. Once the partner is brought on-board, the target customers have to be identified and a store with the right user experience should be setup. A catchy SEO worthy domain name will be a huge add-on. Now, market this store to your target customers using search engine optimisation techniques and social media marketing.
The turn out will be slow initially but organically, with perseverance, you will create a customer group that comes to the website for your products and nothing else. Proper engagement methods will bring more customers and turn your existing customers into loyal brand ambassadors. Also, with location-based marketing in your locality, you can increase the inflow of customers in your brick & mortar store as well.
Several platforms exist to quickly and easily set up an independent eCommerce website. Magento, WordPress and Opencart are some of the most popular ones. While there are several platforms for the same purpose, Magento is the clear winner and is the most SEO friendly eCommerce platform available.
Magento has a rich set of features and since it is open-source, the number of third-party plugins available for every eCommerce related requirement is just wonderful. Magento offers users immense flexibility to manage content, looks, and functionality of their eCommerce store. In short, Magento blends highly scalable design, a wide range of plugins and a vast support network to become the ultimate eCommerce solution.
SectorQube is proud to offer an enriched and enhanced service in eCommerce development on Magento. Our top clients who have availed our eCommerce services include Baby Marine Group (Dailyfish), Kalyan Silks, Kalyan Hypermarket and Eastern Group. If you haven’t set up your online store yet, you’re already late but as they say, better late than never. Drop-in a message and let’s get you online right away!