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How To Implement eCommerce In Your Business Build it into your site and get ready to step into the digital age.

By David Wither

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eCommerce, or the ability to sell products and services online, has revolutionized the way in which consumers shop. Gone are the days of heading down to the store, standing in the line at checkout and repeating the pattern – in fact, 70 per cent of Americans shop online at least once a month, and that extends beyond the realm of groceries to the entire spectrum of goods available.

That's great, and it's not a new shift, but what does it mean for your business? A few years ago, eCommerce portals were the sign of a mega brand testing the waters, but now it's essential, particularly for a smaller business trying to stay competitive.For instance, Ecwid, one of well-known eCommerce store builder aimed at small and medium business, has over a million registered merchants globally. Thanks to it SMBs can retain their investment in their existing web presence and begin selling the same day they set-up.They also can save themselves from calculating sales taxes manually, which usually poses a problem for many junior entrepreneurs.

Do you need an eCommerce solution? Can you afford it? And how easy is it to implement if you don't have a custom-designed website? These are the types of questions that this article aims to address. So keep reading to find out what eCommerce is all about and how to use it to your advantage.

Do I need eCommerce?

Too many business owners have jumped on the eCommerce train purely because everyone else is doing it. But there are a number of serious business considerations that you need to make before following the trends. For example, have you considered the tax implications of eCommerce for your business? And does your product offering really lend itself to this kind of digital innovation? Before you consider this route, reflect honestly about whether or not you need it – there is nothing wrong with operating a business in a more traditional way.

How does it work?

Once you've decided that eCommerce is a tool you would like to incorporate into your business, you need to have a basic understanding of how it all works. To summarize, eCommerce is basically technology that allows you to sell your products online. It converts your website into a storefront, and great eCommerce software has all the functionality you needed to built in – be it delivery, payment gateways, and order tracking. Build it into your site and get ready to step into the digital age.

Choosing an eCommerce partner

Once you've committed to the addition of eCommerce functionality, you're faced with the difficult decision of which eCommerce partner to choose for your business.

There are a few considerations that you need to keep in mind, including your budget, current digital setup and of course, cost.

It is highly recommended that you consider a packaged eCommerce solution from a company like Ecwid. Ecwid, which stands for "eCommerce Widgets", specializes in the creation, implementation, and management of eCommerce widgets that can be integrated into your offering. Ecwid made it easy to deploy multiple e?ommerce store fronts simultaneously to help merchants sell anywhere their customers wish to purchase.Additionally, it does not lock businesses into a single, narrow sales channels, as store owners can simultaneously operate multiple storefronts at once across different platforms.

Also, with Ecwid it is extremely simple to go eCommerce when you have brick-and-mortar store operating on Square. Retailers using Square can instantly create an online store from their Square product inventory, synchronize offline and online sales and inventory changes in real-time and add a storefront to any online presence, including Facebook. When a sale is made either online or offline, all product, inventory and order data is synchronized, providing seamless management between online and physical store sales.

The best thing about the offering is that these solutions don't require extensive coding knowledge and can be incorporated into your existing platform instantly. Plus, there are a number of custom features that you can choose from to ensure you get the best results possible for your business.

How much does it cost?

In its fledgling days the addition of eCommerce functionality to a website was an incredibly costly exercise. The development code had to be built and trialed, and multiple digital systems for delivery and payment had to be integrated and connected safely. Then there was the main barrier to entry – the consumer simply didn't believe that it was safe to share their details online.

All of these factors combined to raise the cost of eCommerce to exponential levels. However, as tech and software developed, and peoples' attitude around the security of shopping online grew, the costs came down. Nowadays, you can find an affordable eCommerce solution that's easy to implement and use, regardless of the complexity of your website and offering.

How easy are these packages to use?

The majority of small businesses have built their own web offerings. Platforms like WordPress and Wix have made it easy to get your business out there, but until quite recently the addition of eCommerce platforms was quite difficult. Thankfully there are now a number of website plugins that allow you to incorporate eCommerce into your website with relative ease.

It's more than a passing trend

eCommerce is here to stay, and it's time to take advantage. As the global market becomes more connected, we are more likely to see an increased demand for convenient, mobile-friendly shopping solutions. Provided yours is a business model suited to this kind of addition, it is definitely the time to get ahead of your competitors and make sure your customers can get what they want when they want. In closing, think of it like this – are you willing to make your customers find your nearest branch in the real world, or would you rather your products are a click away?

David Wither

Team and Startup Management Coach, Wither Leadership Consulting

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