In 2016, worldwide online retail sales are forecast to exceed US$2 trillion.
By 2018, that number will leap 50%, to US$3 trillion.
But in Australia, online sales growth is projected to be a paltry 10%. Why?
Partly because less than 12% of small and medium sized businesses here have an online store.
There are also other issues for local small businesses who want to use e-commerce.
In Sept 2013, Australia was ranked 30th in the world in terms of broadband speeds. Now it’s ranked 60th!
The promises of faster speeds via the NBN are still a distant dream for huge parts of the country.
This means it’s slower and less fun to shop online for local customers.
But even if they do shop with you, then the next issue is getting them their purchases quickly.
A NRMA Motoring and Services survey last year showed 73% of businesses that send 10 or more parcels a month are still using the post office.
But Australia Post can be expensive for small business; plus the sheer size of our country can mean slow delivery times for both domestic and overseas parcels.
It’s not uncommon for product bought in the UK and the US to make it to Australian destinations faster than stuff bought locally because global logistic companies can outperform our mail infrastructure.
The tremendous benefits of an online shop
Despite these challenges, the advantages of e-commerce are huge.
It means the whole world can access your product 24/7.
And considering that more and more offline sales are web-influenced, it’s becoming critical for the survival of retail business owners in the current market.
Other benefits include:
- More precise audience targeting through online promotion.
- A broader potential customer base through greater visibility.
- Improved customer service through increased buying options.
- The ability to manage your business from anywhere in the world.
Do the research
Setting up an online store for your product isn’t hard and can cost a fraction of bricks and mortar retail.
But first, do some due diligence and study your competition online
There’s so much for sale on the internet.
Getting clear on what your Unique Sales Proposition (USP) is critical.
Make sure you know what makes your business a standout.
Price is just one factor. Others could be quality, after sales service, delivery time or cost, returns, warranty, options, etc.
Register a domain name (you need your ABN for this): There’s no shortage of places to do this online.
Consider registering the .com as well as the .com.au to protect your brand.
Look at all-in-one online solutions
You'll also need to make decisions about software and hosting, design, content, delivery, payments and any other related issues.
Be old school online
Paul Greenberg, the Executive Chairman and founder of the National Online Retailers Association (NORA) has some great advice for those starting out in ecommerce.
“Speak to other retailers and network with them via blogs, forums, business chambers and ecommerce events.
It's a very collaborative ecosystem. Get involved.
Use common commercial sense and don’t get too seduced by the technology.
Good old fashioned retail principles still apply online including the Four P’s –product, place, price and promotion,“ he says.
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