Even businesses operating 100% locally need eCommerce in today’s on-demand world. There are several benefits of getting your local business online. We’ll review some of the benefits and three options for getting your business started in eCommerce.
Benefits of eCommerce for Local Businesses
The COVID pandemic accelerated the trend of local businesses integrating eCommerce elements into their customer acquisition and service pipelines. What used to be stand-out benefits that would impress even the most reluctant customers are now standard expectations. If you haven’t considered the benefits of e-commerce for your business, let’s take a minute to review.
Increased Online Visibility
A website can improve your marketing by helping you appear in search results. However, it will need to be polished enough to convert customers. This visibility is not about showing up in search results. Through blogging and email marketing, your website can keep you in the eye of your current customers. Effortlessly reminding customers of the products and services you offer.
Excellent Payment Options for Customers
E-commerce can provide seamless or low-friction invoicing, billing, and payment options for your customers. This can significantly benefit restaurants or service providers like plumbers or electricians. In addition, electronic payments can be accepted without meeting in person.
Strengthens Your Brand
Active eCommerce allows you to build your brand and establish a loyal customer base. For retail businesses, eCommerce can access new customers who do not live near their store.
Unlike traditional retail, eCommerce stores are available 24/7, which is crucial when serving a global market.
Increased Customer Loyalty
eCommerce sales come with a wide range of discounts, promotions, and free shipping, which means that customers are more likely to return to your store in the future. Additionally, well-developed e-commerce websites can provide valuable insights into your customers’ needs, history, and buying habits.
Getting Started with eCommerce
The section covers three ways to get started with an eCommerce website, including the pros and cons.
Do It Yourself: Or In-House
One of the “easiest” ways to get your local business started in eCommerce is to do it yourself. But it can be a misleading option, especially for those who are not tech-savvy.
One of the advantages of creating an eCommerce website on yourself is the lower cash cheap cost. You can start your e-commerce wing by investing time, effort, and relatively little money. Also, you are the owner. That means you have complete control over your business and what goes on the website.
But DIY takes time to set up a website from scratch. Even with visual builders, there is a significant learning curve. You need basic design skills and know how to manage templates, fonts, content management systems, and other technical details.
You could hire an in-house developer who already has the necessary skills. However, you will have to determine their credibility and most often pay them a full-time salary. This could be a cost-prohibitive option for a small or locally operated business.
If you are not good at technical details, the website you can create might not look professional to your customers and may affect your business. The steep learning curve is another downside of creating an eCommerce website yourself.
Hire an Out-Of-Town/State/Country Developer
This option is suitable for those who don’t have time or in-house expertise and need a website that looks professional. This is the best option if you don’t want to lose your business idea in technicalities.
The good thing about hiring an out-of-town developer is that they already know what they are doing, so you can save time. Hiring out-of-town developers will also get you a professional website with the best look and feel. Your website will have all the necessary features to help grow your business.
One of the disadvantages of hiring an out-of-state developer is difficulty finding a trustworthy developer. Not all out-of-town developers are the same. Some are not reliable and trustworthy, making it difficult to find a legit one.
Even if you find a trustworthy developer, there is a significant chance they will charge high prices for development and maintenance. Their value as skilled and trustworthy developers allows them to charge premium prices.
Slow communication is also another issue. This might be due to time zones and limited impersonal methods like email, video/phone calls, and chat.
Hire Local Web Developers
This is best if you want an excellent platform with local insight. Many cities have a plethora of independent or local design/developer agencies.
One of the advantages of working with a local developer means you are close to them. This makes it easy to communicate and voice your ideas to get the website you need. In addition, there is a substantial collaborative benefit to having discovery meetings in person.
These in-person meetings could occur with out-of-town agencies. However, flying to Chicago for a discovery meeting about your e-commerce web design in Memphis is expensive and cost prohibitive for small businesses.
Another benefit of working with a local web developer is the shared cultural and market knowledge. You won’t have to spend as much time bringing a local web developer up to speed on the nuances of your business market. Instead, you’ll already have a shared understanding of what local customers find appealing and potentially offputting.
Working with a local developer means you are both in the same location. This makes it easy for you to consult and work together. Also, it’s hard for local developers to disappear and not deliver.
While hiring a local developer offers a lot of perks, it can be expensive. However, that added expense can be offset by the local developer’s value: closer collaboration, easy-to-verify authority, and expertise.
Locally operated businesses can benefit from eCommerce and working with a local developer who knows the market and needs of your local community.