Memorial Day Weekend: Remembrance and Deals
As we come back to work following this long weekend (in remembrance of all those who have passed while serving and protected our country--our team wants to acknowledge the sacrifice and give our acknowledgments to the families), many of us also spent the past weekend checking off our to-do lists and scrolling the internet.
Despite the meaning and history behind the date, Memorial Day has also come to be associated with deals and shopping. Many big brands, such as Amazon and Chewy to name a few, offer generous deals on their popular items. Big media outlets, like People magazine, strive to let consumers know about the best deals and where to shop. In 2019, on this weekend alone, Americans spent around $36 billion*. For e-commerce shops, visits doubled, marking an increase of around 17% which is a large increase on its own*. When estimates compared 2019 numbers to 2020, there was an expected 380% traffic increase in online clothing stores alone*.
Shoppers: They are Online
Who would've thought that the first purchase of an online product in 1994 would be the start of a trillion dollar industry**?
There is a trend towards shopping online that has caused many brick and mortar stores to close their doors. By 2023, the e-commerce industry is expected to reach $6.5 trillion**. Another interesting fact is that despite if the consumer ends up purchasing online or brick-and-mortar, 63% of the beginning of a shopper's journey, aka the "research phase", starts online**.
Benefits of Having an Online Store
As indicated by the trends listed above, having an online presence for your store is crucial, especially if you are looking for growth. There are many benefits of having an online business. One is that the expenses of running an online business from an operational sense are lower than running a physical storefront. Another is greater reach: you aren't restricted to a single location, but can reach potential customers further away. There is more convenience for your customer, as well as flexibility, which can increase their desire to purchase.
There are more benefits that can pop up based on the type of store you establish. These benefits can only arise if the creation of your online store is successful.
Types of E-Commerce Stores: Platforms and Models
There are many benefits to having an online store and many different considerations to being successful in this large industry. There are also many ways to start. A website is a big one as it has a great capacity to present your products/services and process orders. A few big e-commerce platforms are Woo commerce, Wix store, Wix restaurant, Squarespace e-commerce and Shopify. Woo commerce is an e-commerce plug in on Wordpress that is for small to large businesses that is popular because it is simple to install and highly customizable (as Wordpress as a hosting platform is often used for: the customizability.) Wix store is a plugin on Wix for shop owners that allow custom product pages and can manage your storage, inventory, shipping, and fulfillment of orders. Wix restaurant is another storefront on the hosting platform Wix, but specific for restaurants and can help with menu design, reservations, and online orderings. Squarespace e-commerce is the hosting platform's online selling side that allows for product selling. Shopify is another e-commerce platform that assists you with any transitions (whether you are already online or not), marketing, and management of an online store.
There are different selling models for e-commerce sites. The first is based off of the customer type. These include business to consumer (B2C), business to business (B2B), consumer to business (C2B), and consumer to consumer (C2C).
There are also different business models to consider. A few common business models include the following: There is a single good/product to a consumer, where the directive is to sell said product/service to the customer. Bundling is connecting two or more products and providing a discount for purchasing together. This model is similar to wholesaling, where products are sold in bulk to either a B or C, although the difference is in wholesale the item is the same versus in bundling there are different offerings together. There is dropshipping, where a third party is the middle man between the B and C. Subscription is where customers pay a fee to get a product/service continuously provided for them. Freemiums is providing a free service/product, that is paid for in another way (like ads) and you can "upgrade" to pay for a better service/product. There are more, but we will end with these examples to not overwhelm you. The basic principle is what model you pick will be based off your customer type as well as what your offering is. Not every business model will match every consumer.
The platforms discussed, at the beginning of this section, should be picked based off of what business model you are striving to implement as some are better than others. For example, let's say your business model is subscription based and you are between Wix and Woo Commerce. Both are able to create a subscription-based model for your e-commerce store. However, Woo Commerce is more customizable, but also more advanced. Some coding can be necessary to get it to the operation you want. Wix offers pre-designed templates for your selling. So if you are looking for more adaptability, then Woo Commerce would be more up your alley. If it is ease, then Wix will be better for you, as they do have dynamic pages and multiple themes and designs you can pick from. Another thing to think about is Wix is the hosting platform while Woo Commerce is a plugin on Wordpress, so when comparing who you want to work with, you need to also delve into whether you want your website on Wix or Wordpress.
An online store can be established on multiple channels--either solely or interconnected. A few ways to ensure you are successful includes:
Patience! Don't rush, put thought and consideration into each decision.
Be Customer-focused! It is important to think about your store as "What does the customer need and how can I solve it?" versus just assuming that everyone will want your product/service. There are many products/services out there, but not all of them properly ID and handle their customer appropriately. Even if you aren't in-person, customer service is a big element to not be overlooked.
Don't overlook search engine optimization! Any form of organic traffic (customers you don't have to actively pay for) reduces your expenses as well as builds you as a company. Customers are the best marketers for you as if they love it, they will tell others about it and bring more people to you.
Be mobile-friendly! So many consumers purchase items from their phones so it is critical that your store is designed for efficient use on a mobile device.
Social Media! The more channels the better, but social media is a big one for engagement and interactions with customers.
An example of a successful, thriving e-commerce store is Chewy. Started in 2011, they are an online retailer for pet food and other pet-related items. They estimated $26 million in total revenue, despite losing money in their first six months of operation. Fast forward to 2017 and they are a part of the largest ever acquisition of an e-commerce store (purchased by PetSmart). In 2021, their valuation was almost nine billion.
What went right?
They struggled just like other startups to get their feet off the ground and get investment, especially when battling behemoths like Amazon. However, due to their customer service and unique branding (personalized notes sent to customers), they increased their brand reputation and customer loyalty. They committed to showing they truly cared for each customer. Hand-written thank you notes. Surprised oil paintings of their pet. A level of personalization and commitment to their customers that normally only happens at a mom-and-pop pet shop in a community.
"The idea is to 'wow' the customer and to provide a delightful experience where they would never dream of shopping elsewhere"
Ryan Cohen quote about his successful business venture.
There are a lot of different ways to start an e-commerce store and the amount of information and resources can be overwhelming. We understand. E-commerce stores are trending and have the ability to scale quickly and impressively. At LiveFive Web Design, we are experienced in building different kinds of e-commerce stores and can help you achieve your dream of running your own! Along with the power of knowledge and understanding how your store operates broken down into simplified terms and steps. Reach out to us to learn more and get started!
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LiveFive Web Design LLC
Image for article comes from Freepik: <a href='https://www.freepik.com/vectors/memorial-day'>Memorial day vector created by freepik - www.freepik.com</a>
*statistics come from the same site, accessible from clicking on the link on "$36 billion" and here
**statistics coming from the same site, accessible from the link on "1994" and here