In an era where approximately eight out of ten U.S consumers shop on-line, no company can afford to ignore e-commerce. On-line shopping provides consumers with price and convenience benefits, while at the same time enabling retailers to increase their outreach and revenues. The latter are some of the reasons why retailers are increasingly providing access to their products through on-line channels which enable shoppers to purchase their products using computers and smart phones. Beyond business to consumer (B2C) interactions, businesses should also enable their partners to access their goods on-line as part of Business to business (B2B) e-commerce interactions.
Giant marketplaces such as eBay and Amazon provide an easy way for retailers to put their products on-line. These marketplaces provide global outreach to millions of customers, on the basis of the most robust and scalable e-commerce infrastructures worldwide. However, there are also cases where companies opt to develop their own on-line presence, through the establishment of an e-shop / e-commerce infrastructure.
Here are some signs that should lead a retailer to consider building and operating its own e-shop. In particular:
No matter the exact drivers, the establishment of an e-commerce infrastructure delivers distinct benefits including:
In order to leverage the benefits, retailers need to setup e-shop project. Much as this is an IT project, it also a new business case that should be successfully managed based on business rather than technical criteria. The creation and justification of this business case (including a relevant business plan) is therefore the first and most important step to the e-shop development. As part of the business case elaboration, a strategy regarding the e-shop should be formulated, including the concrete business targets and a viable route to accomplish them. Furthermore, the business case should be accompanied with a financial analysis including the costs for developing and operating the e-shop and the anticipated benefits stemming from increased sales, new revenue streams, reduction of fees to other marketplaces and more. The business case should reflect a positive ROI (Return-On-Investment), as a prerequisite for engaging in the actual development of the e-shop based on the following steps:
We end up this use case description with five best practices that retailers should follow for optimal results:
In coming years the vast majority of retail and wholesale transactions will be performed on-line. It’s therefore time that retailers embrace e-commerce as a central element of their on-line strategies. This use case post has provided some important tips that can help you in shaping a successful strategy for starting your e-commerce project on the right foot.
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