You were told you needed to sell online. It’s not a choice! You must do it! So on a shoestring budget you had something built and attached it to your website. You don’t remember the last time you were there, and you’ve never seriously marketed it. So can it ever be profitable for your business? Well that depends… (I love that answer!)
Most people think of ecommerce as selling a “widget” and shipping it out to their customers. But it doesn’t necessarily have to be. You can think of ecommerce as giving your customers the ability to pay their bills online, buying tickets for events, even purchasing Service Level Agreements for your company. One of the biggest goals we hear from service companies is they want more people to purchase service agreements, yet they don’t provide customers with the convenience of purchasing them online. Remember, the easier you make it for people to do business with your company, the more your customers will like you!
In our busy world after putting the kids to bed, spending time with our significant others and watching our favorite DVR’d show, we’re often sitting on the computer at midnight taking care of the bills or researching things we want or need to buy. Our customers are doing the exact same thing! So the first step to thinking about how ecommerce can benefit your business is to think about how ecommerce could benefit your customers.
Once you have that figured out then it’s time to determine who you can hire that you can trust. Just like handling credit card information in your storefront or office has risk associated with it (dishonest employees, someone hacking into your network, someone breaking into your office and stealing improperly stored credit card information) so does the web. If you hire someone who doesn’t have much experience or doesn’t pay much attention to online security, you’re opening your business up to unnecessary risk. We routinely have companies approach us who had someone build a WordPress website for them with an ecommerce module which ultimately led to their website getting hacked. (Read my previous post WordPress is not a shopping cart.) Or there are a multitude of Content Management Systems out there that offer ecommerce “modules”. But the unfortunate truth is that many of them have limited functionality and security vulnerabilities.
That’s why we only recommend real shopping carts for our clients. Besides the fact that they offer more functionality than plugins for Content Management Systems, they are generally more secure. (Open Source shopping carts should be viewed with a skeptical eye because you can be at the mercy of the people developing your cart, and they may not be experienced enough to build a solid solution.) At the end of the day, any software on the web is “vulnerable” so why risk your company’s future by not doing it right? If your customer data gets compromised it could mean many thousands of dollars in fines from the credit card companies. So make sure you think about solutions that can help your customers and give them a safe, secure and convenient online experience. That will help your business grow!