Crowd Views III: How to Set Up E-Commerce Platforms

G2 Crowd is releasing its third quarterly research report: Crowd Views. The first two focused on “Solving the Talent Crisis” and “Solving Common Enterprise Problems.” This edition is about small business and the technology they use to solve their problems. The goal of this edition of Crowd Views is to help other small businesses understand what their peers are using to solve business problems. This is the fifth blog in our 10-part series about these small-business insights.

E-commerce software tools can open businesses up to a whole new world of revenue and consumer activity.

According to a study by BigCommerce, 51 percent of Americans prefer to do their shopping online; a number that only grows over time. These percentages aren’t limited to a certain generation, either.

According to the same study, “67% of Millennials and 56% of Gen Xers prefer to shop online rather than in-store.”

G2 Crowd’s survey for Crowd Views reports much of the same findings.

“Among growth businesses, online/e-commerce at 57% was the most common channel, with direct sales a close second at 52%,” reads Figure 19 of the survey.

By refusing to sell online, businesses are essentially cutting their consumer base in half. And it’s not even the absence of e-commerce functionality that can turn people away. By lacking a significant online presence or ignoring the benefits of affordable digital marketing, businesses are, again, stepping on their own feet.

MailChimp conducted a study on the overall effectiveness of email marketing campaigns for companies of varying sizes. For companies consisting of 1 to 10 people, MailChimp found emails were opened at a rate of 21.53 percent. For companies with 50 or more employees, MailChimp found emails were opened at a rate of 22.83 percent.

From this data, we can deduce that small businesses of varying sizes see about the same amount of success from email marketing campaigns. No matter if a company employs 2 or 27 people, they’ll see emails opened from about one-fifth of their subscribers.

Businesses — even small businesses — hoping to not only survive but improve, should invest the time and resources into developing an adequate digital presence.

Email marketing can boost e-commerce, and e-commerce can boost business. You know that now. What you may not know is how simple it is to put a digital store into effect. Even mom and pop shops have something to gain from going online, and it doesn’t have to break the bank.

Managers and store owners can implement an online store either with or without an existing website. If they have an existing website, turning it into an online store can be as easy as purchasing a compatible plugin or API. For example, WordPress users can easily integrate WooCommerce in order to begin seeing online order placement and revenue.

“You can run [WooCommerce] on a shared server, you don’t need any high cost or high configuration server to run [it],” writes Yogesh S. in a G2 Crowd review.

Businesses that don’t already have a website have an advantage. They can look for website builders or other content management tools they already know to have e-commerce plugins. Squarespace is just one example of a website builder that lets you establish your website as an online store from the very beginning.

E-commerce plugins often don’t dip out after administrators have created the site, either. They can help keep track of inventory, generate reports to help managers organize sales information and gather consumer information and data to strengthen marketing campaigns. While administrators will still have to ship product through a shipping resource, the e-commerce tool and accompanying website host can help with shipment organization and notifications.

In short, the internet remains a large and populated community that users trust to provide them with goods and services. Businesses — even small businesses — hoping to not only survive but improve, should invest the time and resources into developing an adequate digital presence.

Crowd Views Report

Click here to download Crowd Views: Small Business report in full for free.