One of the many things that the Pandemic has changed, is the ways in which direct consumers are interacting with the businesses. The lockdown and social distancing have kept us away from seeing our friends and close ones as frequently as we used to. It is no different in the case of a brick and mortar store. With an ever-rising number of cases, shopping at a retailer isn’t the first thing on your customer’s mind these days. But this does not need to go against the businesses. Instead, it is a blessing in disguise for all the offline retail businesses who probably thought that e-commerce was affecting their business negatively.
It is no surprise that the increasing penetration of the internet has made information accessible on-the-go. According to a report by Statista, India is expected to have up to 350 million shoppers by 2025. Furthermore, various digital advancements such as digital payments, improved logistics by existing online companies and friendly FDI policies will support the growth of e-commerce in the coming years.
Specific advantages of moving a store online:
1. Establishing a 24*7 presence:
Unlike a brick and mortar store, you don’t need to disappoint a customer by hanging that closed sign. We are living in a world where the idea of free-will is leveraged by many businesses to suit their customers convenience. Meaning, your customer can go through the details of your business offerings at their own convenience right from picking their own time and place, to access information about you. At the same time, you ensure that your potential customer finds you when they need that product and don’t go to your competitors.
2. Enhanced customer experience:
Instead of utilizing the resources to give detailed information, dedicating time to resolve repeated customer queries and so on, the online website enables you to put together all the information on the website, have FAQs listed and update information with ease. This not only helps you optimize your business resources but also offers faster and better customer support to your potential customers.
3. Lower costs:
As an offline store, there are costs barriers to business expansion. But with an online business, you get access to reach a wider range of customers without having to worry about the overheads. Tying up with suppliers also reduces the hassle of inventory costs and can offer speedy delivery of your product at the customer’s doorstep.
Where do you start and which platforms to use?
Instead of having to go through the process of building your own website and then optimizing it, you can get a headstart by subscribing to software services provided by D2C platforms such as Shopify. This platform offers a customized solution to setting up an online store without having to worry about the technicalities of the digital world. With a presence in 175 countries, Shopify has over 1 million businesses running on its platform.
The first step is to create an account on Shopify with your email, password and business name for a 14 days trial. You can pick up a domain name for your business and register it using Shopify itself. This business name will be used as a default URL for your online shop which customers will access to view and buy products.
There are three different plans offered by Shopify – Basic Shopify, Shopify and Advanced Shopify with different features and capabilities. It is always advisable to start with the basic plan and based on the scale of your business, you can always seek advancements.
Shopify allows you to choose from a variety of themes to offer a great visual appeal to your online shop. There are more than 100 free and paid-for Shopify themes available. Under settings, you can set up an Account email for communication with Shopify and customer email (email@example.com) through which your customers can contact you. Setting up payment gateways, checkout pages and shipping are all simplified by the platform. All you have to do is choose the settings that are executable by your business.
Once the settings are in place, you can start listing your products on your online store under the tab – Products. Ensure having an appropriate title and description of each product with updated images and prices.
Furthermore, Shopify makes it easy to view, track and adjust inventory with a couple of clicks, importing and exporting inventory with CSV files and hiding products which are out of stock. The analytics provided by Shopify also gives you ABC analysis of products. In cases where you have partnered with suppliers to fulfill the delivery of the product, you can simply integrate a 3rd party software and choose dropshipping. Basically, depending on the product or service you are selling, Shopify has flexible and different ways to offer easy shipping options.
Other Platforms to Build Your Store:
1. Ease of using platforms
Just how we saw, right from setting up an account to managing different settings, Shopify offers a clean and beginner-friendly interface. It offers a great deal of customization and integrating different B2B partners at multiple points without having to leave the ecosystem of Shopify. This multi-channel e-commerce platform offers a store presence on mobile, social media and supports the integration of channels such as Amazon, E-bay, etc. The most important benefit that comes along with this integration is that it becomes so easy to synchronize product and order information and understand the market trends. This further enables you to plan your marketing strategy and keep your customers engaged while expanding your business.
2. Seamless integration with inventory & billing softwares
While Shopify offers great inventory features to help you track and manage inventory, it also helps tackle the complexities for your multiple stores or large scale business. You can take complete control of your Shopify inventory even with multiple sales channels. There are multiple inventory software such as Zoho inventory, Trade Gecko, Stitch Labs, etc. that can be easily integrated with Shopify to offer greater functionalities with large-scale capabilities.
The easy plugins by various third party payment gateways further allow your customers to pay conveniently without having redirected to several pages.
3. Savings and long term value
It can be pretty daunting to build your own store piece by piece, not to mention the development and maintenance costs associated with it. But Shopify takes care of these aspects for your business so that you can focus on other aspects such as ensuring you are providing what your customers are looking for and integrate multiple sales channel to offer a great customer experience while building your business in a cohesive manner. Besides, based on your business volume, you practice your choice of whether and how much investments are necessary. Compared to
It’s easy these days to build your online store as there are multiple D2C platforms available. But before you decide on your platform make sure you study in detail all features of the platform and what value they will bring to you. Once the store is setup start online advertising to acquire customers and retain them through effective digital marketing strategies and build your online brand.