In May of last year, the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development released a data report on e-commerce and the digital economy. The report measured changes in online sales from countries and merchants around the world through the end of 2020. It paid particular attention to the pandemic's effect on online retail. The report found that "global e-commerce sales jumped to $26.7 trillion in 2019, up 4% from 2018, according to the latest available estimates."
Though the conference has not yet analyzed data from 2021, it's likely that the stresses of the pandemic have prompted many to continue relying on their computers for shopping. Counterintuitively, this state of affairs has presented opportunities for small business owners to grow their consumer base using the internet. In many ways, it's never been easier to take your business online.
E-Commerce in 2022
Electronic commerce (or e-commerce, for short) refers to any retail activity that takes place over the internet. Some merchants may conduct the entirety of their business online, such as Amazon, while others, like Walmart, may use it to supplement conventional, in-person shopping. The same holds true for business-to-business (B2B) sales.
Of course, one would expect large corporate merchants, like Walmart and Amazon, to invest in e-commerce. But small businesses are in luck because it's never been easier to set up a business on the internet. Whether you're selling antiques, dog shampoo, or Spanish lessons, a variety of website builders and data analytic tools (to track your sales and online engagement) are available for entrepreneurs.
For example, Shopify, the most popular e-commerce website builder, offers a bevy of features for would-be merchants. These include everything from customizable store designs, built-in payment processors, inventory management tools, a variety of marketing tools, as well as special plug-ins to connect your products to Facebook, Instagram, and Amazon.
Cheaper website builders–even free website builders–are available for merchants who don't yet have the capital to invest in something as robust as Shopify.
Getting Started with E-Commerce
Martina Betrous, writing for the online marketing service Hubspot, wrote a helpful how-to guide for planning an e-commerce business in 2022. Her advice includes considerations that any new business–online or otherwise–needs to consider. What market need does your business plan to address? What's the state of your potential market? How do you build a brand identity? How do you file legal documents for your business? And so on…
As it relates to e-commerce, Betrous stresses the customer experience more than anything else. Online merchants need to have an eye-catching and easy-to-use online store. They also need to begin building a presence on social media. What's more, they should ensure that customers can have open lines of communication, whether that's online or over the phone.
Finally, she recommends that every e-commerce business employ a multi-channel approach to selling. This means that merchants should sell not only through their own platforms directly to consumers but also on larger, more well-known platforms, like Amazon and Etsy. This ensures a greater customer base, which, in turn, ensures greater revenue.
Are you ready to take the next step in building an online business? Do you need help with building a customer base? Fill out the request form below to schedule a free consultation with Web & Marketing Bureau. We can help you perform market research, offer advice on creating a brand, and even provide guidance on the technical aspects of e-commerce.