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Are online stores the right way to do business?

COVID 19 and its impact on the economies of the world need no elaboration. Thousands of smaller as well as larger business establishments all across the world are facing the consequences of the pandemic and adopting strategies to combat the impact on the downswing of the businesses in the best possible manner. 

Retailers selling a variety of products through the brick and mortar establishments have been hit hard with the lockdown imposed and closures. In the aftermath of the pandemic, buying and selling in a contactless environment is what everyone prefers to do. While online marketplaces have always existed and are popular in recent times, online shopping has become a preferred method and the safest option now to avoid the risk of getting exposed to the coronavirus especially for the old and the vulnerable. As is commonly seen, people look for buying online options for every kind of product.  Online stores selling essential items like groceries, home supplies, and other items of day to day use have become the need of the hour. 

As is well known, from the customer’s end, online stores have their own benefits. People will have many options for products to choose from, make price comparisons, read product descriptions, and so on. Also, in the case of online grocery stores assured freshness and home delivery can go a long way in tempting people to buy online. 

From the seller’s viewpoint too, online selling can be the best way to improve customer outreach and sales. Already existing retail stores for the most popular brands always have the option of buying online through their respective websites. Well, some other retail brands are online stores exclusively even without a brick and mortar presence. In fact, online stores for essential products are becoming prominent. Whatever may be the case, in the post COVID 19 phase, selling online has become the most sensible viable option for growing businesses. 

So, when eCommerce is changing the retail experience overall, will online stores be the way to do business in the future?

Most of us will agree to the fact that eCommerce stores when adequately designed can come a long way in earning good revenues in business. Well then, if that is the case, how can we start selling online? 

To simply define online stores, in the frontend they are a platform where a variety of products and their descriptions, comparisons, closely related products, etc are displayed with buying and payment options for consumers to choose their product of choice and check out from the store and the backend is a set of codes that activates or keeps the frontend working. 

Ecommerce stores can be built through a set of software applications. Although the platforms upon which online stores can be built are open source free to use the software most of the time, when it comes to themes and customizations and their adequate functioning, hiring technical expertise to set up an eCommerce store becomes mandatory. There are many types of software platforms such as Magento, Shopify, Wix, Bigcommerce, WordPress to name a few popular ones that can help easily set up an online store. Some of these are paid options for a service provided. Every eCommerce software tool comes with almost all similar features that a seller would generally seek such as offering customer coupons, accepting credit cards through the website, using a payment service such as Paypal, offering downloadable products, track inventory, etc. 

However, things are not so simple as they sound. Every store will have its own unique characteristics depending on the type of products they sell. A variety of apps are available as extensions to the basic theme customization and every eCommerce store will have its own set of extensions. As a simple example, grocery delivery stores might require a ‘pick up’ status feature or an apparel store will have more appealing visuals. All of such additional features will necessitate a professional developer’s help to develop the back end coding for the desired features to be customized. Also, smooth functioning of the platform throughout the customer’s journey of purchasing and quick responsiveness of the pages, making it every device friendly, integrating it with alternative payment getaways is what only a professional can handle. Moreover, maintaining or providing technical support for the smooth functioning of an online store is again a developer’s work. 

Retailers can hire various third party Magento, Shopify, Bigcommerce or other service providers to build an electronic store that fits their requirements. The third-party service providers after understanding the nature of products, targeted audience, or potential consumers, will design themes on available templates and customize features as per the seller’s needs to design an electronic store. The customized features include determining the size of the inventory which may be large or small, large photography emphasis, layout types like grid or column stores, and many others. As far as the expense of building eCommerce stores is concerned, it always differs on the basis of the extent of customized features and additional extended features apart from the built-in basic ones. The larger the number of extended features the higher will be the price for building an online store. However, the price paid is always worth it as an efficiently designed eCommerce store will have fewer failures in terms of responsiveness and speed, will be search engine friendly, and will perform in the best possible way to meet targeted audiences. There are different business models upon which stores can be built which is again a personal choice. The greatest advantage of online stores is that you can start a business right away to earn revenue without having to make a huge investment in the first stage. As you start earning money through an electronic store with the basic features, you will always have the option to scale up with the complex features for growth.  So then, all set to start selling online? Start building your online store today.

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