The online presence of a modern business is now essential. And when it comes to online presence, we are not just talking about a Facebook page or an Instagram account. Granted, social media are an important part of an online business presence, but this is by no means the only way.
The most important part of a company’s online presence and the center of its overall strategy, is, undoubtedly, its website. And when we talk about a company that sells products of any kind (both physical and digital), a website should provide a detailed product catalog and at the same time enable customers to shop online.
Therefore, in addition to the importance of having social media or even a website for a business, the need to maintain an eshop by the professional himself becomes imperative.
In this article we analyze the basic benefits of an eshop, which apply to all types of businesses.
Let’s see them in detail:
Up until now, a basic condition for someone to buy your products was to come to your physical address. With the creation of an eshop, potential buyers no longer have a specific location. You can receive orders from existing or new customers located in another city or even another country.
Orders can be placed while you are busy with other work or even completely absent from work. An eshop is a tireless seller. It has no working hours, it does not take a break. The good thing is that this seller can be in all the places where your customers are at the same time, answer their questions (as long as it is well-made and gives all the necessary information) and execute multiple orders at the same time.
A modern eshop allows you to make offers every time you want to promote a product / products. Buyers love offers!
For example you could very easily activate offers like these:
Of course, the above are examples indicative of the possibilities that an eshop gives you to increase your sales volume through offers. It is statistically proven that when one buys for the first time from a company, it is very likely they will turn into a loyal customer who goes to repeat purchases and also advertises the company from which he shopped in his circle of friends and acquaintances. Offers are a strategy used by many companies to make it easier for them to turn first-time customers into loyal customers.
With your eshop, you can accept multiple payment methods. For example, if you integrate payments via PayPal, you can accept any credit or debit card (VISA, Mastercard, American Express) through the PayPal environment. At the same time, having an eshop does not necessarily mean that your customers have to pay you by card. Cash on delivery or a bank deposit on your account can be mentioned as alternative payment methods.
There are ways to get traffic to your online store beyond advertising through Google & Facebook. A smart way to get very relevant traffic is to work with Quora by providing answers relevant to your products. At the same time if your eshop has a basic structure that is Search Engine Optimized (SEO), you can start getting visitors directly from google searches.
An eshop consists of two parts: the website that your visitors see and the dashboard to which you have access so that you can manage your products.
Your management environment is usually extremely simple so that you can perform almost all the actions required for the complete management of your online store, such as:
Apart from the cases where the products are available for sale in the store, there are also cases where the customers may not be able to purchase a product due to the fact that it is out of stock.
With your eshop you can invite users who want a product that is in short supply to register by filling out a form, so that they can buy it as soon as it becomes available.
By the same token, you can also accept pre-orders for new products that have not yet arrived in your warehouse.
Along with your eshop, you also get a complete solution for managing your warehouse. If your product is digital and can be distributed in multiple copies, then this may not be so important. But in the case of physical goods, warehouse management is something you must have as a function. In many cases, buying a warehouse plan would probably cost a few thousand euros. Your eshop also has a built-in warehouse management function.
So you can simply have the so-called Stock Management where you inform the system about how many pieces are available per product code. Each time a sale is made in your online store, the stock is automatically adjusted and the number of items purchased from the available stock is deducted.
At the same time you have the option to make public the number of available items to your visitors, or to keep it only for your own use and hide them from your eshop.
With a simple campaign on facebook and a low cost of 50 € you can announce the existence of your eshop to a few thousand people, with precise targeting in relation to their interests and the area in which they live. If you want to advertise your eshop in smaller cities, the initial campaign costs can be even lower.
As mentioned before, running an eshop does not require any programming knowledge on your part. You can also grant an assistant or an employee of yours access to the dashboard. In fact, if you choose one of the new platforms mentioned below, you can build an eshop yourself.
Have you noticed that in the big online stores (eg Amazon, Ebay), next to each product there are suggested related products?
Have you also noticed that in the same large online stores, when you are in the payment process, you get offers for additional purchases of lower value products related to the product you have in your cart?
The reason these stores use these techniques is simple: it works.
In your eshop you can easily connect products with each other and apply the same techniques.
In many cases each product has variations. For example, a garment of clothing may have the same product code but be available in different sizes and different colors. Your eshop allows you to display this information on the same page with the user never having to change the page to see the different sizes and colors. These variants are defined by you and you have the ability to insert photos and even different prices for each variant.
Your eshop gives you information and very important statistics for making business decisions. You can very easily see:
These and many other useful statistics are part of your dashboard.
Last but not least is the cost of acquiring an online store. To the question of how much an eshop costs, there is no one-word answer because the cost each time depends on the customer’s requirements.
A few years ago, in order for a company to acquire an eshop, it had to invest a large amount of money and at the same time wait a long time until it was delivered. Of course even today, large companies that have very specific requirements from their eshop (and usually very complex), invest (and rightly do) in an expensive, custom-made online store.
But is this the ideal solution for small and medium enterprises? In 2020, when the online presence and the possibility of online shopping are now necessary for all businesses, there are solutions much cheaper than those chosen by large companies which are in such a financial position that they can afford the high prices of eshop construction.
All the above functions described in the article, can now be available to small and medium enterprises at a cost that is more than affordable.
You can create your own eshop on the Shopify platform if you do not want to start with an eshop company, and start with a ready-made platform.
In business, there is a methodology according to which a company applies flexible development methods without high costs and strict decisions in order to always maintain the ability to change and control costs.
The well-known book The Lean Startup: How Today’s Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses by Erik Rise presents the LEAN method thoroughly.
This methodology is not so new, as countries like Japan have been applying flexibility in business innovation for many years. The Japanese apply the so-called KAIZEN according to which every business decision is based on the result of a previous decision.
All decisions are about small evolutionary steps rather than big ones. The small step can be implemented by the management of the company and the entrepreneur quickly and without great cost and can also measure its efficiency.
In short, imagine KAIZEN as a large staircase with a very short distance between the steps. Each time the decisions concern the very next step. The only thing that the company must pay attention to is that these steps are continuous in that each step must be performed, measured and immediately followed by the next step.
In the next chapter I refer to the existing technological environment and the way it is connected to KAIZEN & Lean.
A few years ago, the know-how around digital business belonged to a few, large companies that could absorb all trained staff resulting in a limited number of agencies undertaking a huge number of eshop construction projects. The prices were prohibitive for the small and medium entrepreneurs on top of which they had next to no say in any potential changes.
In short, the business decision to build an eshop could not follow the KAIZEN methodology with the existing technological means (fast decision – low cost – flexibility).
In recent years, however, technology has made a huge leap: new platforms have emerged, enabling entrepreneurs to build an eshop on their own without the help from an expert. This possibility has opened new avenues as now the business decision to open an eshop (which also means the strategic positioning of companies in the online business) is extremely easy and not at all expensive.
The existence of startups that allow the construction of eshops by entrepreneurs themselves rather than by experts form a new technological and economic environment to which the existing companies for the construction of online stores must adapt.
Following is a brief presentation of the platform based on the “Build eshop myself” model.
As there are many technologies that more or less offer this possibility, we have chosen the one that enables the construction of an online store without any prior programming knowledge and without the need for a developer.
For example, the popular woocommerce platform allows the entrepreneur to upload products on his own and manage his online store, but it presupposes the existence of a site in wordpress technology that one cannot do without the knowledge of setting up a website without the help of an expert.
So we are talking exclusively about a platform on which entrepreneurs can open an account instantly and easily without any other conditions to upload their products, set prices and start accepting orders the very next day.
Shopify is the largest platform at the moment for users who want to create an eshop from scratch without the help of an expert.
The entrepreneur only has to choose the subscription plan he wants and immediately upload his products. There is a free trial for all packages and absolutely no knowledge of programming languages is required. The end result is a complete eshop with the possibility of online payments.
The Shopify billing model is subscription based. There is a fixed charge per month and additional extra charges for services that entrepreneurs want.
The shopify subscription packages are:
Lite – $ 9 per month
Basic – $ 29 per month
Shopify – 79 $ per month
Advanced Shopify – $ 299 per month
In this presentation we will focus on the Lite and Basic packages and the possibility of obtaining an eshop even from $ 9 per month (Lite).
The LITE package does not allow the acquisition of a separate eshop but professionals can sell their products through Facebook and Messenger. It also allows you to use the Buy Button with which the entrepreneur creates a product. This button is situated on an existing site that is not an eshop.
The LITE package is not suitable, in my opinion, because firstly, it does not support the possibility of a separate website and secondly, the Buy button presupposes the existence of a website.
The Basic subscription covers the average entrepreneur and is my recommendation if one chooses the Shopify solution. With the Basic package of $ 29 per month, the entrepreneur can build his own eshop and have:
The basic plan essentially gives a complete online store to the entrepreneur to manage. The price is extremely affordable ($ 29 / month) and also gives the possibility of free trial use for 14 days.
The advantages include a very up-to-date blog with training about the use of the platform, although the process is generally extremely easy and understandable.
As there are other online solutions from companies such as WIX or Weebly we would say that Shopify is currently the best solution for someone who wants to set up an eshop on their own. Technologies are changing, new business models are emerging, enabling entrepreneurs to enter the digital world faster, more easily, and at significantly lower costs.