Physical to Digital: Is an eCommerce Platform Necessary?

Physical to Digital: Is an eCommerce Platform Necessary?

If there’s one thing every brick-and-mortar retailer should know, it’s that the next frontier for their business is online. By going digital, retailers can significantly expand customer reach. Of course, this isn’t an easy feat, especially for business owners who are new to eCommerce.

Running an eCommerce website isn’t as easy as it might seem. It’s a whole new world from running a physical store. There are a lot of intricacies worth considering carefully. Years ago, online retailers had to maneuver into eCommerce blindly. Nowadays, thanks to years of evolution of eCommerce platforms, and the guidance of now highly experienced eCommerce Web Agencies, going online has never been easier.

The other good news is that traditional business knowledge does transition very well to the online world. We have noticed that solid offline businesses tend to be the most successful when launching an eCommerce platform. That is conditional that they treat the project just as seriously than any new product launch of division launch, that the project receives sufficient backing from executives and sufficient resources. The deadly trap is wishful thinking: believing that simply throwing out a website is going to do wonders. For this to happen, you need a marketing and promotional plan, and you need an advertising budget. You have to treat this as a new business venture.

A surprising 74% of small business owners don’t have an eCommerce-enabled website. Not only does this limit sales, but it can also limit the engagement and conversion opportunities for these small business owners.

Other than these essential factors, why is it vital for business owners to get an eCommerce platform?

24-7 availability

The days of forcing people to buy only during store opening hours are over.
Resisting this is falling behind and not keeping up with our times.

People are busy at work on opening hours! After work hours, most have kids to pick up, to make dinner for, to do homework with, to take care of. Weekends? Well, those get busy too!
Customers want to buy when they have time to buy, and that may well be after (or before!) your opening hours. A friend told us: “I used to know the closing hours of all stores, now being a mom, I know the opening hours of all stores!”

 Omnichannel
Omnichannel support is essentially offering a seamless customer experience in all the ways of interacting with your brands: by phone, in-store, online by chat, on your website, via social media, etc.

It means that all your systems are connected and perfectly interwoven together for consistent customer experience. This approach allows you to reach out to your customers through an assortment of platforms and enable them to contact you on all those channels.

Omnichannel is the ideal scenario and is often a “phase #2” as an evolution of first having a “multichannel presence”. Multichannel is to have a presence on many mediums (physical store, website, etc.) but without a seamless integration. For example, a customer who buys in your store would not see his order on your website because the offline and online systems are not connected (yet). Your inventory does not synchronize automatically from your physical store to your website. Your gift cards or loyalty points system only works in store but not on your website or vice-versa.)

The top brands embrace omnichannel.

According to the eCommerce platform maker Magento, omnichannel support is no longer simply an option – it is a must-have. With the help of omnichannel support, retailers can maximize their earning potential and expand their brands.

Having omnichannel support also allows customers to access a retailer 24 hours a day, seven days a week. By increasing availability to something as simple as “always,” business owners will be able to increase their sales and engagement rates drastically. Customers love brands that are always available to reach out to them, and they are more likely to become loyal supporters.

Mobile Optimization
What most retailers don’t know is that there are more mobile users than desktop users. For some of our eCommerce customers, it can be as much as 80% mobile (phone and tablets) and 20% desktop users. With that in mind, retailers must be ready to reach out to mobile consumers. Mobile optimization has always been a challenge for website owners. It’s not just about making sure the page fits on a smaller screen; it’s also about making sure everything works well. The ordering process must be enjoyable on mobile. If your website frustrates the potential buyer on his mobile, you just lost a sale.

Ecommerce platforms can help make a retailer’s mobile bid more successful. A successful mobile version of the website will make it easier for retailers to expand their sales.

Analytics

Analytics will provide merchants with data. Then the critical part is turning that data into insights to create strategies and make the changes their business can benefit the most from. Some eCommerce platforms also come with analytics tools. Magento Commerce has Magento BI (Business intelligence) integrated with the platform. This way, retailers can maximize their insight and strategic potential to the fullest.

Security
Online security is an important, and often overlooked part of running a website, whether or not it is for a transactional eCommerce platform. Cybersecurity threats are present in all corners of the internet. Being a victim of such an attack is bad news for business owners and their customers alike.

We had examples of security breaches for major organizations: in September 2017 the credit bureau Equifax disclosed that hackers stole the personal information of 147.7 million Americans from its servers. In June 2019 and the Desjardins group (a Quebec based bank) announced: “The data breach affects around 2.7 million people and 173,000 businesses, more than 40 per cent of the co-operative’s clients and members.” The leaked information includes names, addresses, birth dates, social insurance numbers, email addresses and information about transaction habits. ”

Further controversial debates erupted in the province of Quebec when the Desjardins group offered their members, the security services of Equifax to monitor unauthorized uses of the stolen identity data. With the obvious points that Equifax themselves were victims of hackers not long ago, making the Desjardins customers not very reassured!

According to recent findings, more than 150,000 small business websites in the US can be affected by malware or data breaches at any given moment. Part of the reason why this is so is that the majority of them don’t have eCommerce platforms to back them up.

There’s a lot of crucial data that could be stolen from retailers online. In turn, stolen data could result in heavy financial and development losses.

Moreover, once companies become hacker victims, they’ll find it hard to shake off the bad reputation (such as Equifax’s loss of credibility to protect customer’s data in the Desjardins case). Most eCommerce platforms come packed with security features that allow them to add several layers of protection for their website and customers. Furthermore, users will feel more secure if they know they are properly protected.

The Magento platform is a highly robust system. Even out of the box, it’s incomparably more secure than most other popular web platforms such as WordPress.

Furthermore, the Commerce edition of Magento (formerly known as Magento Enterprise) is PCI compliant. PCI is a very strict security norm, which allows certified technology platforms to store credit card and other sensitive or confidential information.

According to Visa Chief Enterprise Risk Officer Ellen Richey (2018):
“…no compromised entity has yet been found to be in compliance with PCI DSS at the time of a breach.” [19]

Being PCI compliant, Magento Commerce truly is enterprise-grade security.

 Inventory Turnover Rates
Inventory turnover refers to the number of times a company restocks or replenishes its inventory annually. Basically, the higher the inventory turnover rate, the more sales a company has made, as it had to restock its supplies time and time again. Other than as a sign of good business, inventory turnover rates are also used by commercial bankers for assessing a company’s standing.

Ecommerce platforms allow companies to keep track of their inventory turnover easily. In addition to what’s stated above, the data can also be used to create strategies for efficient business and inventory management.

Statistics
There’s a lot more to know about the growing eCommerce industry, but, for starters, it would be right to look at the stats concerning the biggest open-source, exclusively eCommerce platform in the field, which is Magento .

Bottom line:

Going online is the future of all retailers.

While success is never guaranteed in business: the best bet is to select a top graded eCommerce platform, and to secure support from a solid team of eCommerce experts to guide the transition from in-store to online sales.

About the author: this article is a guest blog post from the hostingtribual.com, written in collaboration with the MageMontreal team.

It would be our pleasure to guide you in the transition process of physical to digital, and put in place your eCommerce store to sell your inventory online.

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