According to the U.S. Online Retail Forecast, 2011 to 2016, a report conducted by global research and advisory firm Forrester, eCommerce sales in the United States topped $200 billion in 2011. This figure is set to rise by a staggering 62% by 2016, with the resulting $327 billion in annual eCommerce sales accounting for 9% of total retail sales. Spurred by innovative shopping models and online loyalty programs, the eCommerce sales channel is clearly benefiting from the increasing levels of comfort customers are feeling while shopping online. It’s not too late for companies of all sizes to reap the benefits of growth in this area. Assuming a product is ready to sell, the digital landscape boasts several eCommerce platforms and related services that will help companies to sell products online.
eCommerce Platforms: Several Flavors of Opportunity
eBay and Amazon: Ready Made eCommerce Platforms
Online retailers eBay and Amazon offer a quick and easy route for any business to start selling products online. The global reach of these sites means marketers gain immediate access to an audience of millions of potential customers. Despite increasing publicity in respect of the fees charged by the sites, particularly by eBay, a growing number of traders boast a turnover in excess of $1m. If nothing else, these platforms represent a practical opportunity for new companies to get started in online retail.
Shopify: Out-of-the-box Online Retail Stores
To date, over 20,000 business owners are using Shopify to realize the benefits of selling products online. This creative software allows businesses to use their own domain name, includes eCommerce hosting and an integrated shopping cart. It also boasts many online store designs customizable with over 100 ecommerce website templates. Payment for the service is made monthly with different plans available to suit businesses of varying sizes.
Facebook: Move Over Farmville
The phenomenal growth of social media has surprised most Internet users. With Facebook membership expected to exceed 900 million users by the end of 2012, a report from comScore, ‘The Power of claims that customers are between 40 and 150 times more likely to consume branded content that is visible in their newsfeed they are to visit a particular business page. Startups like 8th Bridge and Payvment are helping online retailers take advantage of this trend with the provision of innovative eCommerce solutions that encourage users to shop where they socialize.
Wordpress: It’s not just for Bloggers
While it’s true to say that WordPress was initially targeted at bloggers, it is now better described as a competent eCommerce and CMS platform. It’s a perfect option for those businesses who prefer to do things their way. Users can take advantage of free or premium eCommerce website templates and various WordPress plugins that will see their site turn from a basic blog site to a fully functional online retail store in minutes. Although all the potential eCommerce platforms discussed required that due diligence is given to marketing and optimization strategies, a business running its own online store should prioritize these aspects of success.
From Bricks to Clicks
The ‘clicks not bricks’ mentality is set to grow beyond the most idealistic of visions. Savvy business owners will give appropriate consideration to which eCommerce platforms will best suit their needs and that of their business. Many will come to the conclusion that the best solution is a combination of platforms.
This is a guest post.
- Things You Should Buy Online to Save Money Buying online and buying in-store can sometimes result in totally different prices. Click here to see what things you should buy online to save money....
- Shopping Online: The Money-Saving Secret I try to do as much of my shopping online, if at all possible. The one exception is groceries. The two local companies that...
- Universities Won’t Pass Online Enrollment Savings onto You but You’re Still Saving Money There’s a very good reason why the majority of universities across the country and the world are starting to embrace students getting their educations and...