Congratulations!  You’ve taken the first step toward incorporating eCommerce into your sales process.  Now what?

The first thing to keep in mind is that your eCommerce site is both a sales channel and a customer service channel. This means that not only will you need your site to make the purchasing process easy for your customers, you also need it to be easy for you to support customer service requests.


State of eCommerce

B2B-Ecommerce

A recent study by Forrester indicates that the B2B eCommerce market is double the size of the B2C market.

Today’s eCommerce platforms enable companies to grow their business and reduce administrative costs.  As an added benefit for small to mid-sized businesses, these platforms have become increasingly affordable.

The ROI compared to more traditional methods of sales are eCommerce platforms have a relatively low cost to implement with a high return on investment.  eCommerce has continued to take share from the struggling offline economy in increasing numbers, and companies that seize this opportunity are going to continue to grow.

Most of these platforms also allow designers to focus on simplicity and ease of use; encouraging a strong user experience.

 


Benefits of eCommerce

The most valuable aspect of utilizing an eCommerce site is lowering administrative costs.  Having an online system that eliminates or streamlines phone orders, paper order forms can generate significant cost savings for a business.Many companies use their eCommerce platform to streamline their inventory management.  Most eCommerce platforms have various modules that you can use to integrate the site with your ERP system.  Utilizing this feature of eCommerce platforms cuts down on time spent on data entry as you don’t have to update both your ERP and your website separately.

In terms of new customers or existing customers, an eCommerce site has a particular strength in offering a straightforward sales channel.  This is an advantage when your target audience is among the younger generations.

Growing your business through your eCommerce site can be a cost effective way to gain new customers. When combined with online or traditional marketing as well as social media, having a good eCommerce site that effectively tells your story is a great way to gain new customers.

As always, an effective site allows you to distribute information about your products to existing customers, partners and distributors.

For example, there is a whole host of tools built into most e-commerce platforms that will allow you to manage mailing lists, update product info, maintain a blog; all things that can keep you in contact with prospects and existing customers.


Where to Start

Now that you’ve explored the ins and outs of eCommerce, you may be asking yourself: “Where do I start?”A few minutes of research online can leave even a seasoned business person a little overwhelmed.  For example there are over 500 eCommerce systems that cater to the mid-market. Mid-market means systems that are not going to cost you hundreds of thousands of dollars just to turn the key.So keeping in mind that there are many platforms that cater to the mid-market, a little research will reveal that there are a handful of platforms that consistently rank at the top of review sites.

At ChromeMedia, we use is Magento. Magento is the fastest growing and largest mid-market platform in terms of user base. It’s owned by eBay, so it’s well supported and continuously monitored and updated.Magento_logo

What to Look For

There are a few things you want to consider when choosing a platform.

  • ERP Integration

    You will want a platform that integrates easily with whatever existing back-end systems you currently use. If you have a ERP system already, you should make sure the eCommerce system you have can be synced with your ERP.

  • Account Management

    Another thing to consider is that your system needs to account for customers setting up and managing their own profiles, and also making sure your system allows you to customize content for individual customer accounts. For example, offering special pricing to different customers.

  • User Management

    If you have a distributor network, you should make sure that the platform will support a distributor log-in system and also support for reseller accounts if required.

  • User Experience

    Customers will often expect you to have features like an easy to use search, product ranking systems and user reviews. In addition, you want your site to have features that will give you marketing tools like for example the ability for customers to sign up for a mailing account.