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A Brighter Future for a More Inclusive Global Economy: E-Commerce is the Answer 36per cent of small businesses do not have a website and those who do face a lot of challenges when it comes to building their presence online

By Ankit Gupta

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At 18per cent, India is today leading the growth rate of internet users across the world. Phenomenally low- cost data plans and prevalent usage of smartphones are revolutionizing how customers across the country consume services and information. We are now habitual to having everything available only a few taps away, in the palms of our hands and at the tips of our fingers. Digital is increasingly taking over a wider stretch of population, thus minimizing market gaps and opening up countless opportunities.

The internet has also improved information flow between buyers and sellers, thus making transaction across demographics more convenient and hassle-free. This is evident in the fact that worldwide e-commerce sales in 2015 hit an estimated $25.3 trillion and are still growing at a robust pace. Manufacturers, suppliers, and retailers across India are waking up to this shift and are using this e-commerce wave to flourish, turning it into an opportunity and the internet into a fertile ground for business growth.

However, making the online transition is no child's play, especially for smaller businesses. This is evident from the fact that 36per cent of small businesses do not have a website and those who do face a lot of challenges when it comes to building their presence online. For a smooth transition from offline to an online format and be successful; they need support and guidance from experts.

Here, then are a few tips to help offline businesses make them move online and capture the numerous opportunities that it offers:

Getting Started – Making a Website

Creating a website for your business is easy. What is difficult is creating and delivering a seamless online shopping experience to your potential customers, from search and discovery to engagement and final purchase. The user interface (UI) on your website has to be uncluttered and intuitive and must provide your online customers all the information that they need to make their purchase decision. Strategically-placed rich media content can also help you create and capitalize on upselling/cross-selling opportunities, thus driving more favourable customer behaviour.

Getting More Attention at a Lower Cost – Digital Marketing

Creating an online store is only half the job. The other – and arguably more difficult – part of the digital transition is making your presence felt in a highly-competitive and extremely competitive marketplace. This is why you need to adopt innovative digital marketing strategies to attract customers to your website.

Digital marketing initiatives such as SEO, SMM, SEM, online advertising, content marketing, and native marketing can drive higher RoIs, even for small businesses with limited resources and budget. These strategies help your business drive online visibility, which in turn helps in creating and sustaining brand salience amongst your target audiences.

Understanding Customer Behaviour

The customer was, is, and will remain the king – especially in the hyper-competitive online space, which makes it essential to create a differentiated value proposition. This is where new-age technologies come to the rescue.

By expert use of visitor tracking and artificial intelligence, you can analyse the behaviour of your online customers and gain a deeper understanding of what drives people to make purchase decisions. Such in-depth insights can help you to better position your online brand and enhance customer retention, in addition to improving your customer-facing marketing campaigns and sales initiatives to effectively influence customer behaviour.

Online Payments

Payment options are an important component of the B2B e-commerce sales process. Furthermore, you need to provide a seamless transaction experience. For this, you must integrate multiple payments options (net banking, credit/debit card, mobile wallets, PayPal, etc.) into your online website. Care must also be taken to ensure that the entire payments process is completely secure and compliant with the relevant information security policies.

Monitor Your Progress With Web Analytic Tools

Every click that your customers make on your website is a data point that tells you something about the interaction that they have with your offerings. Web analytics can help you in understanding the story behind this data and devise strategies to heighten their engagement through greater personalization. On the one hand, this can increase sales driven through your online store, while, on the other, it can massively improve customer retention and lead conversion.

Leveraging these tools can help you create more value for your online business. However, gaining the relevant expertise to effectively implement them can be a big challenge. This is where leading B2B marketplaces come to rescue. By leveraging their vast experience, extensive technological capabilities and business capabilities, these platforms can help you bridge the gap between your offline and online operations, bringing you closer to a more inclusive global economy– and shaping the future of international markets.

Ankit Gupta

Vice President, COO,

Making a Change

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