eCommerce Website Guide: What You Need To Know
eCommerce has grown over the years and the outbreak of coronavirus only served to speed it up. Today, you’re at a great disadvantage if you don’t have a business website. It’s a necessity if you want to grow your business. But most business owners are scared about running eCommerce websites. Their hands are already full with product sourcing, accounting, and other business operations. While eCommerce websites are complicated and require resources to run, they aren’t as confusing as they’re made to seem. This guide will look at different aspects of an eCommerce website so you can have a better understanding and leverage it to grow your business.
Let’s first look at different types of eCommerce businesses.
Types of eCommerce Businesses
There are different types of eCommerce business. It depends on who’s selling and who’s buying. You can sell your products to individual consumers, other businesses, and even government agencies. Similarly, individual consumers can sell items among themselves. These are the most common eCommerce business models:
- Business to Consumers (B2C): This is the most common type of eCommerce business. Retailers that sell products directly to end consumers fall under this category. You can build your own online store or sell your products through larger marketplaces.
- Business to Business (B2B): If you are a B2B seller, it means that you sell your products to other businesses. Examples of B2B businesses include raw material suppliers, wholesalers, office material suppliers, and branded company merchandise suppliers.
In some cases, businesses deal with government agencies under a model similar to B2B. This is known as Business to Administration (B2A).
- Consumer to Consumer (C2C): This involves individuals selling their products directly to each other. Sites such as eBay among other online marketplaces provide a platform for C2C businesses to do their transactions. Sellers use the platforms to sell items they no longer need. But the C2C model isn’t scalable as most platforms have strict restrictions for unverified individual sellers and most sellers end up transitioning to B2C in order to grow.
- Consumer to Business (C2B): Individuals can also sell products to businesses. For example, software developers and freelancers provide businesses with a variety of products and services. This is a C2B business model. It’s mostly service-based. Bloggers who sell advertising space on their websites also fall under this category.
When individual sellers engage in a transaction with a government agency, it’s referred to as Consumer to Administration (C2A). The model is the same as C2B.
There are various ways you can source and distribute your products. This can be done in the following ways:
1. Drop shipping
In dropshipping, you’ll list products for sale then forward customer orders to your supplier who ships them directly to the customer. It doesn’t require you to keep an inventory or pay for warehousing. You’ll make your profits from the difference between the listed price and the supplier’s price.
Wholesaling requires you to maintain an inventory as you’ll be fulfilling customer orders yourself. While most wholesalers are B2B businesses, you can also sell directly to consumers at wholesale or retail prices. If you sell to direct consumers at wholesale prices, you’re likely to build customer loyalty.
3. Manufacturing and private labeling
Manufacturing doesn’t necessarily involve large factories and several workers. Small businesses can make handcrafted products. For example, you can make and sell knitted socks on your website. Private labeling refers to outsourcing a manufacturer who makes products that are exclusively branded for you. Amazon’s Amazon Essentials are an example of private label products.
4. White labeling
Sometimes businesses customize generic products with their own branding. This is known as white labeling. It isn’t the same as exclusive private label products because white label products can be offered to any business. You can white-label products that are being drop shipped by having the supplier label the products with your brand. Examples of products that you can white-label include water bottles, phone cases, watch bands, and customized pin badges.
5. Subscription services
You can offer subscription services for products that require regular replenishment. This helps you to build customer loyalty and recurring revenue. Examples include health supplements, disposable items, and pet food among others. For instance, Birchbox offers a monthly subscription box containing personalized beauty product samples for €10 per month.
It’s important to note that as a business, you can use more than one model for your products. It’s not uncommon to have businesses combining both B2C and B2B transactions on a single eCommerce website. Each transaction can have different products, purchase options, and pricing. But this depends on the functionality and capacity of your website or software.
Types of eCommerce Websites
As an eCommerce business, there are different types of websites you can use to sell your products. Some of them include:
1. Vendor-specific websites
These are single seller websites that sell a particular brand’s products. The website serves as the brand’s online storefront to let customers buy their products remotely. Such businesses also have their own business model. Most online stores fall under this category.
2. Online retail websites
Online retail websites are owned by a vendor who also sells products from other brands as well. Other sellers can also sell their products on the platform. For example, Amazon allows third-party sellers on the platform despite being a seller itself. The sellers are vetted and verified before being onboarded.
3. Online marketplace
Unlike online retail websites, anyone can be a seller in an online marketplace. Sellers range from individuals to established brands. An example of an online marketplace is Facebook Marketplace. One of the benefits of online marketplaces is that you’ll be exposed to a large number of ready buyers.
4. Aggregator sites
Aggregator sites search a number of sites and compile information on a particular category so that buyers can easily find the best deal for a given product. They are mostly used for airline tickets and accommodation bookings.
Benefits of eCommerce Websites
There are several benefits to selling your products online as compared to a brick-and-mortar store. For starters, eCommerce websites eliminate geographical boundaries and allow your brand to have a global reach. You can sell your products across the globe. You can then use shipping services such as DPD to ship to international buyers. The Irish Store is an example of an eCommerce store that ships worldwide.
eCommerce also lowers your business operation costs. You don’t have to worry about rent, utility services, staff salaries, and additional costs for store security. Since customers pay for shipping, you only have to worry about website maintenance costs and warehousing. If you are drop shipping, then you don’t have to budget for inventories and warehousing.
You can also run your online store 24/7. People can shop at their convenience and you get to arrange for deliveries and shipping later. This means that online businesses aren’t as physically exhausting and time-consuming as offline stores.
Other advantages of having an eCommerce website include improved customer service delivery, easy business scalability, automated and personalized marketing, availability of performance measurement tools, and lower startup costs.
Duration It Takes To Build a Website
How long will it take you to put up your website? Well, the truth is that there’s no definite answer to this. It depends on a number of factors such as the type of website you’re building, the number of products on offer, and if you’re building your website from scratch or using a preexisting template on a platform such as Wix or Shopify. It can take as few as two weeks or as much as 12 months. Ecommerce platforms are the quickest way to build an eCommerce website.
But the time it takes to build your website doesn’t matter much. What matters is its functionality and ability to serve your customers and meet business goals. There are also legal requirements you’ll have to keep in mind when building your website. The website should have:
- Terms and conditions for web visitors
- Disclaimers related to the web content, products and services, or affiliates
These policies enable you to communicate clearly to your web visitors. Besides that, ensure that your website has these 12 smart features for optimal performance.
eCommerce Website Maintenance
Website development doesn’t end after you build your eCommerce site. You should periodically review and upgrade your website. Website maintenance is key to business growth for an online store. Periodic reviews help to keep the business functioning efficiently and optimally. Some of the reasons you need to perform website maintenance include:
- Improve service delivery to customers
- Improve your website’s search engine ranking
- Improve your website’s security
- Update your business focus
App Development, Why It’s Important To Get An App?
According to Statista, there are over 3.5 million smartphone users in Ireland. The penetration of mobile devices has had a significant impact on consumer behavior. About 27% of mobile device users prefer shopping from a mobile app. One of the reasons for this is because they don’t have to memorize long URLs. Other benefits of developing an app for your business include:
- It helps to boost customer loyalty
- It reduces the response rate and builds the business’s trustworthiness
- Apps offer a better user experience compared to websites
- Improved conversion rates since customers have easy access to your store
- Better data collection for targeted marketing
Mobile apps are increasingly becoming a major component of online businesses. If you have the budget for it, then you should consider designing a complete e-commerce mobile app and consistently keep upgrading it. Engage users and reward them for their feedback. This will encourage them to give positive criticism that helps you to grow.
eCommerce has made it easier, convenient, and faster for businesses to connect to their customers regardless of their physical location. The Irish eCommerce industry is valued at €7 billion and is only bound to grow. This guide can help you get started on eCommerce so you can get a piece of the cake. Regardless of what eCommerce business model you choose, you will need resources to develop your website. You can learn more about how to get a website grant here. When looking for a website development agency, these are the factors to consider. Shop and support Irish- get an eCommerce website today.