Benefits of eCommerce
eCommerce has grown into a sophisticated range of business models in the 21st century and with the recent pandemic driving multitudes online to do their most basic of purchases, it is only destined to advance at an even greater rate from now on.
But why have we taken to it like ducks to water? We can look at the benefits of eCommerce through the prism of the 4’Cs of the modern marketing mix – Cost, Convenience, Communication, and Customer. We’ll take a quick tour of the benefits of selling online for both businesses and customers.
The benefits of eCommerce for businesses
For customers, when balancing eCommerce advantages and disadvantages, one of the benefits of selling products online is that prices are often lower than those in a physical outlet. There are also more ‘online only’ price promotions, applicable even to those using a ‘click and collect’ purchasing process. Add to that the savings in time and travel, and shopping online is an attractive alternative.
You can find physical deals, bargains, and coupons, but the benefits of selling products online makes it more convenient. For instance, if a customer has a deep discount offer for two different products from different stores, it takes a couple of clicks to reap the benefit.
For businesses, physical premises incur significant fixed costs (rent, overhead, staff and so on) but one of the clear benefits of selling products online is that eCommerce allows a seller to launch an online store with far lower setup and operating costs. A major pain point used to be fulfilment – the ‘last mile problem’ – but an ecosystem of outsourced delivery services has grown up to address that issue efficiently.
The benefits of eCommerce make it much simpler, faster, and less time-consuming for a customer to search for, find and buy a product whenever and wherever they want. It’s open 24/7/365, offers quick delivery, and a returns option.
You can be anywhere in the world and with few clicks of a button you will find even the most obscure of items. It’s a global marketplace, and the sheer range and scope of the offer reflects that.
For a business, one of the key benefits of eCommerce is that their potential customer base can be located worldwide – there are no restrictions imposed by geographical barriers, transport, or tariffs. With a suitable fulfilment operation in place, they can deliver practically anywhere.
Product-centric businesses are driven by branding and the relationships they build to establish a loyal customer base. The engine for these two factors is traffic from search engines. Furthermore, with finely tuned SEO, potential customers follow a link in a list of results and land on a website which they’ve never heard of before. This source of traffic is what drives growth to create benefits of eCommerce for smaller businesses.
Communication isn’t only about enticing potential customers to your platform. It’s what the customer wants (and needs) to know about the product. In a physical outlet, there’s a limit to the quantity of product information you can display. Furthermore, even if I am lucky enough to encounter the most knowledgeable sales assistant in the store, their verbal explanation is no match for the variety of in-depth written, graphic, and photographic information provided by the benefits of selling online from well-put-together platforms.
With the range of tools available to enrich product data, there’s no excuse for not providing extensive information to enable the shopper to make a highly informed choice. In the majority of cases, this information is available for the business from the manufacturer, other vendors, or 3rd-party content providers.
The customer experience
Consumers take it for granted that they can access information across multiple channels and devices. An omni-channel retail customer experience includes physical stores, branded apps, and a variety of other online channels and marketplaces. For example, a footwear brand can sell its products on its own website, via an app, on Instagram’s “Shopping” tab, on its dedicated, branded Amazon or Alibaba platforms, or at its physical ‘flagship’ outlets across major cities.
A key set of benefits of eCommerce is the ‘always on, 24/7/365’ and the vast amounts of data such an operation can gather is used to turbo-charge customer engagement, create communities, generate user content, and offer personalised deals.
The customer is at the centre of this evolved eCommerce ecosystem. It’s straightforward for eCommerce marketplaces to personalise interactions with the brand by creating rich user profiles to enable;
- targeted product offers
- repeat purchase opportunities
- increased average order value
eCommerce customers can access advertisements on social networks, marketplaces, own-brand platforms, and many other sales channels. One of the benefits of eCommerce is the use of carefully crafted SEO to make the company’s products easy to find in search rankings. Add to that straightforward navigation to the right landing page, relevant and suitably displayed information across all touchpoints and a smooth and painless payment process, and it becomes a painless and enjoyable experience for purchasers, be they one-product-focused or simply browsers.
Payment and delivery options
Further anciliary benefits of eCommerce are the range of options for fulfilment: click-and-collect instore, curbside pickup, one-day delivery, and simplified payment processes are the norm. In future, this part of the customer journey will be fine-tuned, with drone and self-driving vehicle deliveries and shrinking time between ordering and receiving.
Businesses sell more if they satisfy their customers. That satisfaction level must be powered by SEO, to make products easy to find. But the benefits of selling online is that brands do not stop at the sale. Post- purchase, customer service can add value to the experience by;
- quickly resolving problems in the delivery or receipt of the product, or offering services such as insurance
- Following through with service to generate favourable online reviews and recommendations across social media and comparison sites.
- Targeted and personalised offers to attract customers back
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The pivotal role of product information management
Improvements in business processes
Purchasing habits of individual consumers and B2B purchasers have changed, and those companies which have risen to the challenge are using PIM solutions to manage product data through its lifecycle and underpin the benefits of eCommerce. How? By:
- optimising product information for use across devices and touchpoints
- enriching product information to make it compelling, attractive, relevant reliable and comprehensive.
- syndicating this information consistently across marketplaces, websites, social media, and all other channels, creating a seamless experience.
Those companies in danger are the ones who are not providing the CX above – the benefits of selling online mean your offer can be accessed between online and offline shopping, laptop and smartphone, website, social media or branded app, so you have gifted customers with a high-quality product experience, and the choice of when, where, and how to shop. The next time they have the urge to buy something at midnight, receive it the next day, and then return it to a physical store if needed, no problem!
What underpins all of these benefits of eCommerce is content – information about the product. At Start with Data, retailers and FMCG brand manufacturers trust us to transform their product data from a business challenge into a competitive advantage. Contact us and we can have a more in-depth conversation about how we can partner with you to provide the expertise and focus you need to meet your business goals.