Whether it’s running an online-only store or adding online shopping to an established brick-and-mortar business, web sales are necessary. Those who don’t find a way to
sell their goods via the internet will quickly see their customers take their money elsewhere.
As of Q2 2017, e-commerce accounted for 17.5 percent of consumer spending, according to a study by comScore. The study showed that 1 in 6 U.S. dollars are spent
Shoppers cite numerous reasons for their online shopping preferences, including that it saves them time, makes comparing prices easy, doesn’t require fighting through
crowded stores and provides a larger variety of items to purchase.
Businesses have two main options for selling goods online: run their own e-commerce websites or sell their goods in an established online marketplace. To run their own
e-commerce sites, businesses need several critical services and pieces of software. Among the most important are a web hosting service, shopping cart software and a
credit card processor.
Small businesses can take the simpler route of setting up a store in one of the many online marketplaces, such as Amazon, eBay or Etsy.
Selling goods and services online has a wide variety of benefits. Most significantly, it opens businesses up to a much larger customer base than they can access with a
brick-and-mortar location alone. With an e-commerce site, businesses aren’t limited to selling their merchandise to those in and around their local communities.
Shoppers all around the globe can access the sites, significantly boosting the potential for profit.
In another plus, e-commerce businesses always stay open. While most brick-and-mortar locations may operate eight to 10 hours a day, e-commerce businesses run around
the clock. Being able to makes sales and money at all hours of the day is a big advantage.
Running an online business can also reduce costs. Specifically, online-only businesses don’t have to pay rent on a physical location and don’t have to pay employees.
Since they don’t require the same amount of manpower to run, these businesses enjoy huge cost savings. [Read related story: How to Start a Business: Step by Step]
Inventory costs also fall for online stores. E-commerce businesses don’t face the same demands as brick-and-mortar ventures, which must stay fully stocked at all
times. Online stores, by contrast, can keep inventory low using drop-shipping methods, in which products are shipped to consumers straight from the manufacturer.
E-commerce operations are also readily scalable, meaning it is easy to start off small and expand as needed. That can be much tougher with brick-and-mortar businesses,
since growing often means finding a new, larger location to house the business.