Why ecommerce for small business strategy is integral

July 27, 2022

In an increasingly digital world, even small business owners can’t discount the importance of having a strong ecommerce presence. 


Ecommerce (short for Electronic Commerce), has become a standard shopping practice across all industry types. The U.S. Department of Commerce reports the continued growth of ecommerce sales year-over-year with ecommerce making up 13.9% of all retail sales currently.  Businesses of all sizes have begun to offer online options, with some moving to a completely digital storefront and others crafting a hybrid shopping experience for their customers. Regardless of size or industry, ecommerce is an important part of a successful business strategy.


How ecommerce helps small business owners

Customers expect convenient online shopping options, and with this trend ever increasing, having no ecommerce experience means you’re missing out. There are 2.5 million online retailers in the U.S. alone, the majority of which are small businesses. Ecommerce provides your company with a unique opportunity not only to serve those in your area who want to use online shopping options, but it also caters to customers outside your physical vicinity. By bringing part of your business online, you are opening the doors to growth potentials simply not possible with just a brick-and-mortar model.


Building ecommerce into your small business operations

If you are going to include ecommerce as part of your business plan, it will require some extra attention and care to be successful. Consider the time, knowledge and resources it will take to create this new commerce channel before you begin, such as:

  • Set up and maintenance of the online store
  • Marketing and advertising for your new ecommerce option
  • Processing and handling of goods sold online
  • Managing inventory with multiple payment portals

Including an ecommerce strategy in your business plan doesn’t mean you have to demote focus on your brick-and-mortar; in fact, the two can work in harmony with each other with the right systems in place.

When adding online shopping options to your business’ landscape, you want to do so with intention to avoid any future headaches around data-consolidation or inventory management. This means either finding a solution that will integrate with your existing systems or upgrading to a cloud-based point-of-sale system with online functionality. Most modern POS (point-of-sale) software will offer both in-store register options as well as an online shopping portal. This way, no matter how or where you sell something, it will be measured against the same inventory counts, avoiding overselling.

Here are some features to consider when choosing a small business ecommerce-ready POS platform:

  • Ecommerce functionality: The site functions should be intuitive and easy for your customers to understand and access and should not overly complicate your business’ operations.
  • Look and feel: Your digital storefront is an extension of your brand. Look for software that is visually appealing and customizable to align with your brand.
  • Security: Not only does the shopping experience need to be easy, but it needs to be safe, too. Do your research on the security of the payment processing services available through your POS before making any decisions.
  • Mobile functionality: Nearly three out of every four dollars spent online is done on a mobile device, meaning the functionality of your ecommerce site should be high on your list of requirements.
  • Analytics and reporting: Being able to access and translate POS data in a convenient way is easiest when all your business is done through the same POS system. With modern POS software, inventory and sales data is shared via cloud-based storage, making them easily accessible from anywhere.


Creating a small-business ecommerce strategy

An ecommerce shopping option puts your business in a good place for dealing with competition and conversion, but just having an online store won’t deliver results. You need to utilize this new platform strategically to see growth. An ecommerce plan will also help you understand your new market. Here are some topics your small business ecommerce strategy should cover:

  • Objectives and goals: What are the purposes behind the addition of an ecommerce platform? How will ecommerce elevate your business? What kind of growth are you aiming for? Put your goals in terms of real numbers and statements.
  • Audience: Your digitally based customers will be similar to or the same as your current customers, but with different shopping preferences. Having a thorough, documented understanding of your target audience that you can reference will be immensely helpful when making future marketing, merchandising and inventory decisions.
  • Ecommerce competitors: While opening a digital storefront greatly increases your audience reach, it also multiplies your competitors. With such a large market, it can feel overwhelming or almost impossible to compete, which is why it’s important to give weight only to direct competitors. Direct competitors are those who offer an almost identical product or service, which is why it’s important to differentiate yourself. How does the quality of the product differ from your direct competitors? What about the speed of service, or the helpfulness of your customer service? Your ecommerce strategy should include ways that your business will stand out against its competition.
  • Reach: Having an online store is one thing but getting traffic to that store is another. Part of your ecommerce strategy should include marketing efforts, as these will differ from your in-store marketing strategies. Engage with your existing customers by letting them know about your new shopping option. Offer first-time discounts to customers who use your online service. Make sure your website is optimized for SEO. Promote your digital storefront through a strategic social media campaign.


Ecommerce for small business strategy: What’s next?

With an ecommerce small business plan in place, you can follow through on the objectives and goals laid out in your small business ecommerce strategy. Refer back to this small business strategy as your ecommerce plan rolls out and revisit your goals often.

A thoughtful small business ecommerce strategy will allow you to apply the right amount of focus towards ecommerce without sacrificing the quality of the business at your physical location, and the right tools will make it all that easier.


Learn more about the ecommerce-ready POS options available through U.S. Bank.

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