Ecommerce has developed a great deal since the first Cyber Monday in 2005. In fact, online sales were estimated to have surpassed an impressive $4 trillion in 2016. This article will explore how exponential technological developments in the ecommerce industry have revolutionized the way that we sell online.
Dropshipping: The Alternative Business Model
Dropshipping has taken the ecommerce world by storm and offers a unique business opportunity to online merchants. This method of order fulfillment involves a merchant ordering stock directly from manufacturers who then deliver it to the consumer.
credit: house of rave
House of Rave is a great example of an ecommerce store which has adopted the dropshipping model. Without dropshipping, it would be very difficult for this store to supply such a wide range of products. This store has established itself as a ‘lifestyle’ company and it supplies products from glow sticks to DJ equipment.
Is Dropshipping the Business Model for You?
House of Rave’s founder, Neville Medhora, is very vocal about how integral dropshipping has been to his business. Here’s how dropshipping has assisted in the development of his company:
- Dropshipping can be a fantastic time-hack for your business. It takes the responsibility of order fulfillment out of your hands, enabling you to focus on marketing and making sales
- This business model can also be a big money saver as you do not need a large sum to cover startup costs or to provide the storage space for stock
- Like House of Rave, dropshipping could enable you to sell an extremely diverse variety of stock to become somewhat of a one-stop-shop
- Stock flexibility is very useful – the dropshipping method enables you to find the best priced and most up-to-date products to sell on your store, rather than being committed to previously purchased stock
- Dropshipping increases your flexibility: you can work whilst traveling or from home because you do not need to fulfill orders yourself
To offer full disclosure: dropshipping is not all plain sailing. For example, inventory issues can occur when you do not own or store the stock yourself. You can be left in a tight position if you offer a product for sale online, but cannot fulfil the order if the supplier has run out of stock. This kind of problem could impact negatively on your business’s reputation.
However, dropshipping has opened up the world of ecommerce to merchants in need of flexibility, and to those who have less investment requirements in terms of time and money. For more ecommerce growth tips, check out our previous article.
Safe & Secure Payments
No longer do people feel unsure about paying online, and ecommerce merchants have been able to capitalize on this new-found financial freedom. Online shopping has become more secure for both merchants and customers, boosting the niche’s profitability.
Ecommerce platforms now integrate directly with most card suppliers and PayPal; they also include complex cash flow and sales reporting features to simplify business processes.
Convenient for Merchants and Customers Alike
Modern ecommerce platforms give you greater control over your business, make purchases more secure, and can assist in the monitoring of your cash flow, making your life easier. Here’s how:
- You can trace your pending payout balances and payment schedules from your account, which helps a great deal with cash flow management and financial planning
- Payments are usually synced with orders, which makes it easy to see how much your average sale per order is
- You can manage lost sales and chargebacks directly through your ecommerce platform
- The best ecommerce platforms do not make any additional charges for fees related to PCI compliance
- Ecommerce websites often include badges to advertise the secure payment service they offer consumers
- Greater trust can grow between consumer and merchant when the payment stage is seamless and secure.
Pro tip: Using an all-in ecommerce platform and financial management system tightens the reins on your finances and provides a better buyer’s journey for your customers. Shopify is a lead contender among a variety of platforms on the market as its payment processing service is automatic and free from any hidden charges.
The Social Media Revolution
It has been reported that 86% of social media users want to (and do) follow brands on social media. Social media has opened the proverbial floodgates of brand communications. It is now possible to engage directly with customers better than ever before, and ecommerce stores are making good use of this opportunity.
Tricks of the Trade: User Generated Content
User generated content is one of the latest trends in social media management for brands with an ecommerce store. UGC is defined as any form of content such as blogs, tweets, images and audio files which are created by consumers and often made available via social media websites such as Twitter or Facebook.
Shoe retailer TOMS created an extremely successful social media campaign with UGC entitled ‘One Day Without Shoes’ in 2011 which still runs once a year to this day. One Day Without Shoes implores customers to connect with the brand on social media and participate by posting a photo of themselves without shoes along with the hashtag ‘#withoutshoes’.
The emotionally engaging campaign makes customers think about the suffering of those who are unable to afford shoes themselves, to whom TOMS donates a pair of shoes for every sale generated. This one-for-one charitable giving is one of TOMS’ unique selling points and is what encourages so many people to purchase from them.
Pro tip: Make the most of social media to express your brand story – get customers involved in the conversation about your products by encouraging user generated content. This method can diversify your social media feed, making it more interesting, and will prevent it from getting clogged up with your promotional posts.
Social media now integrates with ecommerce platforms and vice versa. This has shaken up the way people can shop online with a mobile device, and has made it really easy to go from viewing a picture of an item to purchasing it with a click-through link.
Examples of such integration are the Instagram ‘Shop Now’ button and Pinterest’s ‘Buyable Pins’ which have recently become available to marketers.
Pro tip: Stay ahead of the game and use visual content to promote your products to a wide audience on social media, and generate direct sales with a link to your ecommerce store.
Ecommerce has come on leaps and bounds, and it is now easier than ever to become an online merchant. However, you need to stay up-to-date with technological advancements for your online store to be a success. Here are some of the recent game-changers:
- Dropshipping has made ecommerce more accessible to industry newcomers. It’s a more flexible business model that has less investment requirements in terms of time and money
- Social media has improved brand communications and opened a new world of opportunity for ecommerce companies to reach an international audience and engage with customers in new ways through UGC
- Safe and secure online payments allow you to offer a great, trustworthy buyer’s journey to your customers whilst also offering you greater control of your finances. Financial developments make ecommerce even more profitable than before.
Have any of these developments in ecommerce changed the way that you sell online? Let us know in the comments.