Electronic retailing is the way of the future!
In 2019, 14.1% of the world’s total retail sales were made through e-retailing, and that number continues to grow year by year.
Is your business poised to make the most of the burgeoning e-tail industry? Keep reading to find out.
What is e-retailing?
E-retailing is the sale of goods through an online platform or internet-based store. Also known as e-tailing or electronic retailing, e-tailing is a specific type of e-commerce (see e-commerce vs. e-business) that deals with physical products as opposed to services.
Examples of electronic retailing include online stores that sell things like pet supplies, clothing or apparel, electronic goods, artistic pieces, makeup, furniture, books, home accessories, musical instruments, and virtually anything else you can think of!
E-retailing can be divided into two subcategories:
1. Business-to-Consumer (B2C) E-retailing
The Business-to-Consumer e-retailing model is one where a business sells goods to an individual consumer. An example is when a single consumer purchases a book online.
2. Business-to-Business (B2B) E-retailing
The Business-to-Business e-retailing model is one where a business sells its goods to another business. An example is when an electronic retailing business sells its goods in bulk to another business that then sells those goods to consumers.
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Since they operate on the internet, it makes sense that e-retailing businesses shape and design each aspect of their organizations to operate in the online arena. That includes e-commerce advertising, e-commerce inventory management, payment solutions, optimizing for m-commerce, and more.
Note: It may come as no surprise to learn that the most popular examples of e-retailing are arguably Amazon and Alibaba, which generated total revenues in 2019 of roughly $296.3 billion and $72 billion, respectively.
Now that “what is e-retailing” has been answered and you have an idea of where the industry stands, let’s take a look at the top reasons why e-retailing can be the right choice to make for your business.
Advantages of electronic retailing
There are a number of advantages to e-retailing, but for convenience’s sake we’ve narrowed the list down to the top three benefits of electronic retailing.
Here’s how e-retailing can contribute to the success of your business:
Precise product information
How many times have you been browsing through a brick-and-mortar store and come across an item of interest, but you weren’t able to get the attention of a store associate to provide more information or answer some questions? Probably too many times to count, but you probably still remember how frustrating that experience can be and how that frustration could make you just give up on the purchase altogether.
Electronic retailing eliminates that pain point for customers. And yes, it’s worth it considering that roughly 70% of customers say that understanding how products are used is key to winning their business.
When selling goods online, not only can your store provide detailed descriptions of each item, but you can even pair that written information with visual aids. Being able to zoom in on the stitching of a pair of shoes or read each and every ingredient in a bag of dog food could very well close the deal for some online shoppers.
Quick & convenient payments
Another annoying part of shopping in person: standing in lines. And it seems like every time you get stuck in a line in a store, there’s someone at the front of the line asking one million questions, complaining about their expired coupon, or finding some other way to waste everyone’s time.
Once again, e-retailing comes to the rescue by helping customers avoid queues altogether. To ensure that your customers aren’t exchanging one frustrating experience for another, you’ll want to make sure that your online store’s checkout process is as quick and simple as possible. Part of doing that relies on having a top-notch merchant service provider (MSP) and the other part has more to do with the way you’ve designed your purchasing process.
Have clear CTAs (calls to action) so shoppers can navigate through your store with ease. Choose an MSP that allows for multiple types of transactions including a variety of credit cards, PayPal, Google Pay, and so on. A final tip when it comes to e-commerce payments: invest resources in developing a strong cybersecurity strategy. Even small businesses can fall prey to online predators, don’t be one of the victims!
Personalized customer experiences
If you run a physical storefront, fostering a personalized customer experience relies on you and your staff remembering faces and stories. Ideally you’ll have lots of customers, which can obviously make it extremely difficult (if not impossible) to provide a personal feel to the shopping experience of each and every customer.
The power of digital technology can help with that too! One easy way to create a personalized experience for online customers is to ask them to create an account. Once they do that, you can use name placeholders throughout your store so that your content addresses customers directly.
Aside from that simple solution, there are plenty of apps and plugins available that can gather customer information and use it in creative ways to engage with shoppers in a personalized way. For example, you can add a tool that automatically shows returning customers a selection of recommended items based on their previous searches or purchases. The more you make your customers feel like VIPs, the more likely they are to return and even refer their friends to your store.
E-retail customer service
Selling in-person still has its advantages over e-tailing, particularly when it comes to customer service. Providing customer support at a physical storefront can be a much easier task to take on since shoppers will expect those services during working hours. Once the doors close and the lights shut off, customers know they’ll have to wait until you reopen the next day to receive the support they want.
On the other hand, customers shopping online don’t have the benefit of being able to hold and feel a new gadget, smell a perfume, or try on a pair of shoes before making a purchase. So if they buy something and then find that the item isn’t what they had expected, they’ll almost certainly reach out to your customer support. Not only that, but they’ll probably expect a fast response from a real representative since the store is ‘open’ round-the-clock.
Does this sound more like a disadvantage of e-retailing? Hear us out…
Providing customer service online may actually be seen as a strength by some shoppers. For instance, even if your e-commerce store doesn’t have employees to answer customer support requests 24/7, you can still utilize a chatbot to handle customer questions during off-hours. That’s something that many (if not most) brick-and-mortar stores don’t offer! Using the power of technology can help you ensure that you provide at least some level of assistance to customers at all hours of the day.
The success of an e-retailing business doesn’t just depend on making a whole lot of sales (although that definitely helps!). It’s about developing a customer base that returns again and again to buy from your store in particular. After all, customers can very likely find goods similar to yours elsewhere. You need to give them an unforgettable customer experience to keep coming back to you!
Aesthetics can go a long way in the e-retailing business, and that doesn’t stop at the design of your website. Your products should also be impressive to the eye, since the senses of touch, taste, and smell can’t really be stimulated over the internet.
Choose an attractive bottle shape for your organic hair conditioner, put informative leaflets with cool designs in the box with the electronic gadgets you sell, use a box that opens in an unconventional and interesting way so the process of opening it becomes an experience in-and-of-itself, and so on.
Bottom line: Be creative!
Communication & Reviews
Compared to simply relying on your own content to promote your business, presenting feedback from satisfied customers on your e-retailing store can go much further in terms of developing trust (that’s not to knock the importance of having a strong SEO strategy).
Sign up with a service like TrustPilot and publish reviews on your website so that new customers can see how past customers have felt about your e-retailing expertise.
One of the best ways to bring customers back to buy more is to actively present other potential purchases to them that they would be interested in. That can be done quite effectively by analyzing which products customers are viewing, and then sending them similar product previews through email marketing. That strategy may be somewhat inaccurate at first, but it becomes easier to do successfully the more frequently a customer visits your online store.
Online shoppers love to be loved and want to feel that they’re being treated like a VIP. To do that, you can create special limited-time offers that are ‘just for them’ and/or tell them that a particular item they may be interested in is being reserved for them until a certain date.
You can also create special offers on a broader scale by sending coupon codes to customers who have signed up to your e-retailing website. Another discount strategy is to establish a referral program so both the existing and the new customers get some percent off of their next purchase. The possibilities are endless – just imagine what you would want to see as a customer!
Are you ready for e-tail?
With the information here, you have a firm foundation on which to start building your e-retailing business. We know that the industry is growing, so the question is whether you plan on capitalizing on that growth or not. If the answer is yes just know that you’re not the only one – get started today!