There is no denying that eCommerce is hot and often a place to start for budding entrepreneurs. As new online sales platforms and Web design tools continue to emerge, becoming an eCommerce entrepreneur is an increasingly attainable dream for many aspiring business owners.
According to the US Census Bureau News, as of February 18th of 2014 “that the estimate of U.S. retail eCommerce sales for the fourth quarter of 2013… was $69.2 billion, an increase of 3.4 percent from the third quarter of 2013.” eCommerce has been on a steady increase since 2004, with no site at bottoming out anytime soon.
Here are three reasons any entrepreneur should incorporate eCommerce into their business:
1. eCommerce has fabulous long-term growth potential.
The total market today is robust reaching above $1Trillion and with steady predicted growth of 17% per year. And this is only the beginning. Online sales are familiarly established in the US, but there are immense growth opportunities not yet touched in emerging markets. For instance China’s eCommerce now delivers sales of $1Billion – per day! Contemplate how sales could continue to skyrocket as India, Brazil, Russia, Southeast Asia and other emerging markets catch eCommerce craze?
2. eCommerce gives you the hands on skills of a General Manager.
So many jobs let you see a little piece of the puzzle, but never the whole enterprise at work. In any eCommerce scenario you will be exposed to product marketing, supply chain, pricing and profit management, customer acquisition, cross-selling, up-selling, customer service and much more. Giving you a look at the bigger picture, not just a tiny glimpse through a port hole.
3. eCommerce boosts your learning curve by giving you access to real-time market data.
Testing, testing, and more testing. Many brick and mortar companies either don’t test at all, or they perform very disciplined tests that tend to take a great deal of time to accumulate actionable results.
eCommerce on the other hand, gives you the platform to test till your heart’s content. The best part is you get a report card back from the customer back every day, minute, or hour! The real time loop aggressively accelerates your marketing learning curve.
Harnessing Amazon for your eCommerce needs
So you are asking how do you harness all of the above and reign it into something that actually makes you more than a few headaches and more dollars in the bank. These days one can’t even google “How to make money with eCommerce” without getting blasted with several queries with the legendary name Amazon in them.
It’s been several years now since Amazon was a brazen eCommerce startup. It has become the runaway leader in online sales thanks to a network of more than 40 US warehouses (and counting). Amazon has also evolved its platform to provide tools and technologies for other businesses to use. Here are a just a few:
1. Sell your product on Amazon.com
You can sell your product directly on Amazon utilizing the “Sell on Amazon” program, either as an individual with a handful of products, or as a “Pro Merchant” selling more than 40 items per month.
The pros are that you will gain exposure, create a new sales avenue, and get your products in front of Amazon’s huge customer base. In addition, Amazon also offers fulfillment services for your products.
2. Advertise on Amazon
There are two ways that eCommerce businesses can advertise their products on Amazon, Product Ads and Display Ads, both are pay-per-click programs (PPC) which are similar to Google AdWords.
Sellers can set up an Amazon Product Ads account through submitting a detailed product feed, and filling out some basic information. Product Ads are the less prevalent links at the bottom of the search query page. However, unlike listings on the marketplace, Product Ads listings link the shoppers directly with the seller’s website where it is up to the seller to handle the transaction and everything that follows. This of course gives the seller the ability to grow their email lists, increase lifetime value of those customers, and given their brand more visibility.
3. Amazon Webstore
This is the most well-known marketing channels for online retailers. It is a relatively complete, turnkey eCommerce platform that allows sellers to set up their own store. The solution is enticing for beginners who do not have a lot of experience or knowledge with eCommerce store setup. To list products on the Amazon Webstore, sellers are required to set up an account, and then send Amazon a product feed. However, unlike Amazon Product Ads, the Amazon Marketplace program will not forward shoppers to a merchant’s site since all transactions are performed on Amazon.com. Sellers can either choose to have Amazon fulfill their transactions or handle the fulfillment themselves.
4. Amazon Payments
Whether you are a seller that uses Amazon Webstore or a have your own website on another platform, you can now offer “Checkout by Amazon” as a payment options for your customers. Like PayPal and Google Checkout it is a hosted payment option that many customers already have established trust in. Much like its counterparts, PayPal and Google Checkout, pricing is simple and also includes Amazon’s fraud detection technology. There are no monthly fees, just a percentage of the final sale price of the transaction, albeit possibly a bit higher than PayPal or Google Checkout.
5. Amazon Affiliate
Sign up to be an affiliate through their Associates Program. You will make a commission every time someone purchases something through an affiliate link. Great for bloggers or email marketers alike. Unlike Google Ads you can hand pick from a variety of items to sell. While 4% commission on a single book sale for instance isn’t much, if you promote a high value product (such as a camera) the commission can be worth the effort.