Whether you sell uniquely manufactured goods or commonly-found retail items, having a business website is a foundational requirement in today’s day and age. It not only brings your business’ brick-and-mortar operation to the web but also lets potential customers know about what type of products you sell under your banner.
But having a typical website is completely different from an e-commerce website. While the former only introduces your business to anyone who logs on to your domain, the latter operates as a virtual storefront for your operations. That is why many businesses choose to go with an e-commerce website to sell their products over the web.
However, that is also where the questions arise: Is an e-commerce website beneficial for your business? Is it able to provide you with the necessary revenue? Most of all, is it worth the time, expense, and effort?
To help you answer these questions, here’s a lowdown on the pros and cons of using an e-commerce website for your business.
Pro: Sell Your Products To Anyone, From Anywhere
One of the biggest advantages of operating an e-commerce website is the ability to sell your products to a wide-ranging area. Depending upon your operations, you can offer to ship your products throughout the country and even to international locations.
This provides your business with a wider pool of potential customers and allows you to expand your revenues. As a result, you can scale your business and extend its outreach without having to operate different physical stores or offices in each of your service areas.
Instead of diverting a huge capital towards physical stores and payment equipment, you simply need an online payment gateway such as a PayPal shopping cart to accept your orders from the web. The setup process for these solutions takes a little time, but these services stand apart due to their significant benefits for an online business.
Con: Customers Are Unable To Test Products Before Purchase
Whether you sell handcrafted furniture or designer apparel, anyone who wants to make a purchase from your store is unable to test your products in person. This can affect the decision-making process for some potential costumes who are skeptical of buying a product before seeing it in person.
This point generally applies to those members of your target audience who happen to be doubtful about online purchases, especially from a store that they haven’t dealt with in the past. It is also especially true for personal care products such as makeup, where many customers prefer to find the perfect shades in person before ordering them online.
This requirement can hold back anyone who wants to sell their products through an e-commerce store. With that being said, it can be countered by measures such as detailed product specifications as well as high-quality images.
Pro: Round-The-Clock Operation Hours
Running a brick-and-mortar store requires you to maintain a staff presence at all times. But that is not the case with an e-commerce website. Even when you don’t have anyone on board to actively manage features such as live chat, your potential customers don’t need much guidance to complete their purchase if they have their minds already made up.
This allows you to run this potential revenue generator with round-the-clock availability. For instance, even when you are well past your business hours on the East Coast, you can easily cater to customers logging on from the West Coast.
In turn, this ability gives you massive chances to boost your revenue. As long as you are receiving sufficient traffic, you can reap the rewards of this extensive availability quite easily.
Con: The Online Market Is Highly Concentrated
Regardless of the type of products that you sell through your online operation, you may find that your competitors seem to swarm the market. In many cases, surpassing some of your peers may be difficult to the point of being impossible.
This makes it quite challenging to make your mark in your sector with an e-commerce website. In segments where alternatives to your business are a dime a dozen, highlighting your offering as the best value proposition for your customers can still take a lot out of you.
As a result, you may require to invest in different marketing approaches, competitive pricing mechanisms, and heavy discount offerings. Since establishing and balancing all of these aspects can be a bit complex, it may take a while for you to find your footing and generate noticeable revenue for your business.
Pro: Minimal Costs As Compared To A Physical Storefront
When you are trying to open a physical store, you have to shell out the costs for leasing space, covering its rent, and paying for physical equipment. But the expenses don’t stop there. You also have to cover employee payroll, benefits, as well as your utility bills.
On the other hand, setting up an e-commerce website that caters to multiple regions takes only a fraction of this expense. This includes all aspects of your virtual outlet including website hosting, payment system, and marketing expenses.
This outlines that setting up an e-commerce website is a financially sound decision in most cases. In addition to saving your money, it can also enhance your business operations left, right, and center. Due to this reason, an e-commerce website can provide you with an optimal return on investment.
Con: You May Require Experienced Professionals To Manage Your Website
Thanks to various content management systems (CMS), it has become quite easy to add ongoing content, edit critical details, and modify important product listings. As a result, anyone with a basic knowledge of computers can manage an e-commerce website after it has been fully developed.
But it still doesn’t give you the ability to handle other segments that require technical or specialized knowledge. This includes aspects such as search engine optimization (SEO) knowledge for enhancing your website’s rankings on search engine results, and pay per click (PPC) skills for setting up paid ad campaigns on different platforms.
For these purposes, you need to look for professionals who hold sufficient experience in these departments. This adds another requirement to the mix, where the main pressure point is finding reliable people rather than managing their costs.
While you can see many more advantages and disadvantages of running an e-commerce website, the decision to expand your business with such property often seems to return positive results. With that being said, it is a decision that you should make after careful consideration of your expenses, your time, and your plan to scale your business.