E-Commerce: Are You Ready?

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:

Shopping online is becoming increasingly popular.

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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?)

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

Nathan Yates

Forward View Consulting, 288 Crack Rock Road, Clintwood, VA 24228, USA

Nathan Yates has been fascinated by technology and finance since he was young. He was the kid devouring the business section of the newspaper (remember those?) while others read everything else. Nathan believes that the American economy is built from the bottom-up, meaning that small businesses and local nonprofits are the foundation of our nation's success. These organizations are the lifeblood of towns and cities across the U.S. Unfortunately, most consulting firms overlook companies or organizations that don't have eight-figure budgets. Nathan thought Forward View Consulting should be different. And we are. As Lead Consultant, Nathan works with each client to deliver only the best financial and/or website development services. Nathan's years of web design experience and his business degrees ensure that professional expertise is brought to each project. Our network of contacts can offer additional specialized guidance if needed. Before creating Forward View Consulting, Nathan worked for an independent equity research firm as a Research Associate covering the industrial and energy sectors. This work involved preparing quarterly 15-40 page reports on multi-billion dollar corporations along with timely analysis of M&A activity and industry-wide news. He also managed research distribution and the company's online presence. Nathan also spent a summer serving as a local financial adviser's Research Intern. Nathan earned a Bachelor's degree in Economics and Finance from Southern New Hampshire University, graduating summa cum laude. He then earned a Master's degree in Finance from Southern New Hampshire University, where he was named the Outstanding Student in his particular concentration. Now, Nathan is an adjunct professor teaching economics and finance for his alma mater. In his spare time, Nathan enjoys fishing, reading, time with family and serving as a volunteer webmaster for the Clintwood United Methodist Church.