E-commerce might just be the perfect subject for us to discuss because it's at the intersection of website development and finance. We certainly have experience creating e-commerce systems for a variety of companies, and we'll be rolling out one more e-commerce site this Spring. Before your business sells anything online, though, you need to answer these key questions:
How will e-commerce benefit us? Don't ever create a digital ordering system just because everyone else seems to have one! You should obviously investigate the idea if your competitors are moving into e-commerce, but that can't be your only reason to develop this channel. Think about your own unique situation.
When/where do our customers buy from us? If your customers typically occupy your time with their calls to order standardized items (i.e. t-shirts, books or golf balls), you will probably benefit from e-commerce. If you have a service business or sell extremely customized products, e-commerce isn't likely right for you.
Are our customers on-the-go? If you can implement a time-saving ordering system, especially one that's smartphone-friendly, your busy customers are likely to be happy. You might sell some pizzas just because folks can order them online easier than they can call your competitor and wait for an overwhelmed teen to get the order written down! (And how often does Junior make a mistake?)
Can we manage a flurry of online sales? E-commerce can significantly boost sales, however it's not going to be valuable if you have insufficient inventory. Customers will be upset if your website promises delivery by a particular day but they receive their order late because you ran out of stock. Don't create scenarios for customers to be disappointed! The repercussions on social media can be deadly if you break promises to customers.
Do we understand how to keep customers' payment information safe online? Don't be the newest entry into the Big Book of Hacked Companies. If your e-commerce system isn't secure, you run the risk of infuriating customers who are victimized. Lawyers will be standing in line to sue you, too! Ensure that your ordering platform isn't "protected" with a password such as "12345" or "mypassword."
While that's hardly an exhaustive list of e-commerce questions you need to address, we believe every business considering this type of system should research these topics before installing anything online. We're happy to offer a free e-commerce evaluation. As the economy becomes increasingly digitized, we believe more and more companies will need to seriously investigate e-commerce opportunities.