Did you know that according to eMarketer, U.S. consumers will have spent over $709 billion on ecommerce in 2020, representing an increase of 18% from 2019!
There’s no doubt of the growing prevalence and importance of ecommerce, so if you’ve always dreamed of starting your own online retail business, now could be the time!
That’s why I’ve taken a look at the various advantages and disadvantages of opening your online store, which will hopefully help you weigh the pros against the cons before you get started.
The advantages of ecommerce
With the various types of ecommerce that exist, the possibilities for getting involved in online sales are plentiful. Here are just a few of the benefits you’ll enjoy as an ecommerce entrepreneur!
1. Ecommerce: a booming market
There’s no question that the world of ecommerce is a particularly dynamic market. Figures show that it has grown exponentially over the last few years and is on track to only continue.
According to e-Marketer, the total percentage of retail sales from ecommerce has risen from 9.9% in 2018 to an all time high of 14.5% in 2020 in the US. By 2022, ecommerce alone is expected to generate over $860 billion and over 15.5% of total retail sales.
The development of ecommerce has led to a change in purchasing habits. In fact, 62% of U.S. consumers shop on the internet at least once a month, with more than 50% of consumers purchasing products on their mobile phones or tablets.
These figures speak for themselves: there’s no stopping the growth of ecommerce. It is one of the most dynamic markets in commerce and will continue to develop and increase year over year.
2. Opening a store online doesn’t require a huge budget
Despite the great potential of online stores, opening one doesn’t require a large upfront investment for your business, no matter what products or services you offer.
You need thousands of dollars in your pocket to open a brick-and-mortar operation, primarily because you must purchase or rent a physical space. By going the dematerialized route, your business costs are considerably reduced, which is a significant advantage especially for a new business.
Solutions such as WiziShop even make it possible to create your online store in only 90 minutes, in an ultra-intuitive way. They offer a variety of services and features in return for a monthly subscription and a small percentage of your sales.
What’s more, the website hosting and customer support for your ecommerce business are included! In addition, if you’re not already familiar with the world of ecommerce or web marketing, WiziShop offers a complete training course so that you can familiarize yourself with all the tools, as well as a 15-day free trial.
3. Your office is wherever you want it to be
In creating an online store, you have the flexibility to work from wherever you are in the world. The only constraint is that you’ll need to have an internet connection.
Regardless of your location, you’ll be able to launch and manage your ecommerce business with ease. No longer dictated by commutes, public transport, and traffic jams, your office is wherever you are!
4. Be your own boss
By swapping your working life from full-time employee to entrepreneur, you’ll quickly see that you can enjoy total freedom as the owner of your ecommerce business.
Be careful, as this doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll work less. However, you’ll no longer have to report to anyone!
Furthermore, by opting for an online store, you won’t be constricted by the typical opening hours of a brick-and-mortar business. Your working hours are completely flexible, and you can work based on your other commitments. Want to work overnight? No problem. In any case, your ecommerce business is open 24/7.
5. Reach customers all over the world
Traditional physical stores in various markets are limited to their neighborhoods and surrounding areas for potential customers. However, online stores make it possible to reach a much larger customer base.
You can tap into a wealth of different markets around the world with an online store. You’re not only limited to your country, as you can attract potential customers all over the globe. You now have the chance to export your products and share them with customers on the other side of the world.
With a brick-and-mortar store, your customers are often the same, but with the help of the internet, your products are as likely to be sold in the US as in Europe or in Asia! Your online store is able to welcome an unlimited number of customers.
It’s very simple: selling on the internet allows you to increase the sales power of your business!
6. Your store stays open 24/7
Online stores not only allow you to sell your products anywhere in the world but also make your products available no matter what time of day. Your customers can access your site and shop for products whenever it suits them, even at 3 a.m. on a Sunday evening, which is usually not a possibility with physical stores.
This is even more of an advantage than you might first imagine, as it allows your business to reach clients around the world, irrespective of time difference. It also brings in customers who work non-standardized hours and who might not have the time to do their shopping in brick-and-mortar stores.
With ecommerce, you don’t need to think about paying your employees double for working through the night to keep your store open.
Make money while you sleep!
7. Optimize your sales by highlighting your best-selling products
With an online store, it’s very easy to showcase your best-selling products. By putting these products on the homepage of your website, your customers can’t miss them! You can also bring in the added advantage of positive customer reviews and other marketing strategies for your business.
Believe me, it’s much easier to highlight a product online than it is to reorganize your entire store and window displays to bring your customers’ attention to one product in particular.
You’re also free to change and re-design your store as often as you wish. You can even personalize it for your customers for when they’re logged into their account online.
8. A plethora of marketing tools to increase your sales
To help you develop your ecommerce business, a whole host of marketing tools are available. These are especially designed to aid you in encouraging impulse purchases and getting customers to add additional products.
For this to work, we suggest that you pay special attention to the quality of your product photos as well as the layout of your site. Likewise, you should make sure to have a strong advertising strategy in place for your business.
These may seem like tedious tasks to begin with, but we cannot stress their importance enough. Trust us, it’ll be worth it.
Ecommerce enables you to fulfill a large number of orders with a range of products at once without having to think about staff or larger premises. It therefore helps promote the rapid development of businesses.
9. The possibility of varying the forms of content
To encourage organic traffic to your website and provide interesting content for your visitors, I also strongly advise you to vary the media and types of content used.
Who said your site should only have text and photos? To make your site more original, add some videos or some blog articles related to your products.
This will assist your business with looking more professional and more like a specialist in your field, all while improving the SEO of your website for search engines. Optimizing the content of your website for search engines is essential, as it can assist in making your online business visible to more potential customers.
A great content management system is one of the essential functions of electronic commerce websites. Fortunately, managing the content for your store on the WiziShop platform is super simple!
10. Keep up with the latest trends
Online stores are also totally customizable and adaptable, which allows the business to stay on top of the latest trends or different times of the year.
It’s not necessary to redo your entire business or undertake large-scale work. All you need to do is change your background and add a few extra items here and there to transform your website from one with summer vibes to one with a cosy winter theme.
11. Ecommerce: real shopping convenience for the customer
The advantages of ecommerce are not only limited to you, the seller. It also makes life easier for your customers, which also explains the incredible growth of ecommerce sites.
With only a few clicks, your customers have access to an enormous array of products of all kinds. Filters and search engines allow them to better target their purchases.
They can purchase what they need from your website without leaving their sofa, at any time of day.
So, as a retailer who cares about the comfort of your customers, what better experience can you offer them than this?
12. A less intrusive sales style for the customer
Some more introverted consumers hate going shopping, simply because they don’t enjoy interacting with staff.
They feel that store assistants are often invasive and that they can’t be left to do their shopping in peace.
This is why many people prefer to make purchases on the internet. In addition to online shopping having attractive offers and services, its sales methods are much less intrusive.
When needed, certain online businesses also supply chat or messaging options if customers have any questions. However, customers are otherwise left to their own devices to browse and buy as they please.
13. An impressive resource to enrich your customer database
Finally, note that it’s much easier to gather customer data through an online store than in a traditional business.
When clients buy something online, they are obliged to fill out certain fields, such as their address, email, and/or telephone number. It even seems totally normal to them…
In a physical store, however, they are generally far less willing to share this information with the cashier.
For this reason, online shops have far superior and up-to-date client databases. This information helps you to better understand your customers and create tailored advertising.
The disadvantages of ecommerce
As you’ve seen, opening an online store has a lot of potential and is a great opportunity for starting a new career. However, I’d be lying if I said that there are no downfalls and that managing a store online has no inconveniences…
1. The competition is tough!
Even if the internet has fantastic potential, competition is particularly fierce in the world of ecommerce. According to etailinsights, there are 2.1 million online retailers in the US, representing approximately 25% of all global online retailers.
The top ranks are obviously shared by the ecommerce giants: Amazon, eBay, Walmart, Etsy, and Home Depot. A study published by Statista found that in the US alone, Amazon controls 45% of the ecommerce market share, up from 37% in 2017 and expected to surpass 50% by 2021.
Nevertheless, rest assured that, despite this competition, online stores of all kinds of sizes can be profitable.
WiziShop has put everything in place that you need to succeed: support from our Business Coaches who are ecommerce experts, complete and free ecommerce training, 400+ tools included to assist you with selling online, and more.
2. Beware of technical problems that can make your site unavailable!
Besides the competition, another major disadvantage is from a purely technical point of view…nothing is more damaging to an ecommerce business than a website that’s down or too slow.
Therefore, I advise you to be very careful when choosing the web host for your online business. Don’t let yourself be tempted by offers that are too good to be true and feature reduced-price web hosting. They’re likely hiding something!
Prioritize quality web hosts that allow you to integrate extensive amounts of content on your pages while also making them accessible to a large number of visitors. Even though you can never rule out a breakdown, technical problems should only be occasional and shouldn’t damage your online business.
Luckily for you, these problems are more frequent with open-source ecommerce solutions. A SaaS platform like WiziShop offers a range of services that take care of all the technical infrastructure behind your online store. This leaves you more time to focus on the marketing aspects of your business and selling your products.
Any technical interruptions are nearly nonexistent, and our team is extremely reactive if there is a problem. It’s never something that you’ll need to manage yourself.
3. Ecommerce doesn’t allow shoppers to try before they buy
Buyer’s remorse is a sentiment felt across all kinds of commerce. This feeling can often be avoided if you have the chance to try products beforehand before committing to a purchase.
Another major problem with ecommerce, often cited by customers themselves, is the inability to try the items.
Of course, it’s possible to return a product when it doesn’t suit you or to purchase several items and pay only for what you keep. However, this requires action from the customer. Not having the option to try or test products beforehand is one of the major obstacles to shopping on the internet.
Rest assured, though, with the development of technology and notably thanks to augmented reality, customers can now have an increasingly realistic preview of the rendering of their articles.
Some websites are focusing on more interactive experiences, which even allow consumers to try on their new glasses or even to test their makeup on their face!
The problem of not being able to try a product beforehand will therefore soon be just a bad memory...
4. Clients must be patient when waiting for responses to their questions
Ecommerce can sometimes be frustrating for impatient consumers. If the buyer knows exactly what they are looking for, this doesn’t pose a problem.
However, if they have a question about a product, they can sometimes have trouble finding answers.
In a store, all they need to do is ask a store assistant for help to solve the problem.
With an online store, though, they must send a message or contact customer support to get a response.
To avoid misunderstandings and guarantee the satisfaction of your customers, I urge you to be as responsive as possible! If your online store is growing, don’t hesitate to outsource this task to specialist advisors who can work longer time slots.
5. Items sold must be shipped
While talking about the impatience of the consumer, it’s important to note that delivery times and delays can be one of the biggest drawbacks of ecommerce.
When customers really want or need an item, they can receive it much faster if they go to a traditional store to buy it.
In contrast, when making a purchase online, they have to wait for the product to be prepared and then shipped. There’s also always the potential of delays with the mail service.
Online purchasers are becoming increasingly impatient to receive their products that more and more are subscribing to paid subscriptions and fast delivery services.
In any case, always clearly indicate to your customers your delivery times when they place an order and make sure to respect them…the satisfaction of your online buyers depends on it!
6. Information security is a key issue
The vast majority of internet users will use their credit or debit cards to pay for their purchases.
This is why your site must be secure.
The internet addresses of secure sites are easily identifiable since they always start with “https” and not with “http.” A small padlock should also be displayed in the closed position, next to the address of the payment page.
Note that all WiziShop stores have a native HTTPS security certificate.
In addition, the 3D Secure system can also ask customers for an additional code, received by text, to secure the transaction.
All of these methods help fight effectively against fraud and help reassure consumers when purchasing online. It’s imperative that you have this in place on your site!
7. Physical stores are still popular with the public
Finally, despite all of the above elements, and even if ecommerce continues to grow, brick-and-mortar options still remain popular with the public. According to the National Retail Federation, 90% of all retail purchases are still made in brick-and-mortar stores.
Why? Because people still want to see, try, smell, and touch the products they are going to buy.
However, isn’t there enough room for both physical and online stores?
Now that we’ve been through the major advantages and disadvantages of ecommerce, let me remind you of a few key statistic for the market. Optinmonster reports that by 2023, 300 million Americans will be online shoppers. That’s 91% of the country’s population and represents $709 billion for 2020…
In other words, even if the competition is high, the significant potential of ecommerce leaves you with plenty of room to have a piece of the pie in the market.
With the WiziShop solution, there’s no need to be an IT expert to create your online store. Put your marketing strategy in place, launch your new business, and feel that sense of euphoria when you make your first sale!
It’ll soon be possible to create an account with the English version of WiziShop and enjoy all of the amazing benefits that our platform provides. Be sure to visit our homepage and provide your email address to sign up for early access and email updates!