November 30, 2020 | 5-minute read (1000 words)
An e-commerce platform can help you set up your online store or sell products. Many small businesses want to sell items online, but need the assistance of sites like Shopify, Square and others. These sites can help you with marketing, inventory management, payment processing, order fulfillment and shipping, and handle everything that you need to sell online. Check out the ways small businesses can maximize the benefits of such sites, as well as their pros and cons
Business Types You Can Start with Shopify
- Bulk Buying from Vendors and Selling Online. You can buy the stock in bulk from wholesalers and vendors at discounts and later sell it to earn profits.
- Sales of Homemade Items. Homemade items are cost-effective and don’t need storage. But you must ensure that you can scale the production of homemade items when sales increase.
- Offering Personalized Items. You can design and sell personalized items like printed T-shirts, watches and mugs. The print-on-demand business is quite simple since you will personalize the items only when you get the orders. There is a wide range of products if you want to target merchandise, books and pens for the business.
- Convert Your Services into Products. You can sell your services online by creating a market for your expertise. You can start tutoring students, providing online courses, creating e-books and designing websites to attract a new audience for your next webinar.
- Be an Influencer. If you are a content creator or writer with quite a few followers and visitors, you can promote others’ products. Your fan following and type of visitors will determine what kinds of promotions you can take from the companies. You can also take up affiliate networking to earn money.
Maximizing the Benefits of E-Commerce Platforms
E-commerce platforms like Shopify and Square offer a point-of-sale (POS) system that is a combination of software and hardware to complete and manage online sales. A POS system can store customer contact information, organize your sales data and provide insightful metrics about performance of your business. There are many POS systems available, although the best platform for your company depends on your needs and budget.
Shopify is a good option for businesses whose revenue comes from e-commerce sales. It offers a 14-day free trial and later charges a flat monthly fee, plus card processing fees for each transaction. You can cancel the subscription at any time and upgrade/downgrade services as needed.
If you run a business where most of your revenue comes from in-store sales, Square can be an affordable and a good option. It offers a 30-day free trial and then charges a fixed monthly fee for its standard POS software.
Small businesses can maximize the benefits of e-commerce platforms by leveraging the following five tools:
By using inventory management tools, retailers can avoid selling out of items and can receive low-stock alerts. You can also set inventory counts manually and track sales and returns through your toolset at any point. Shopify and Square can also support importing and exporting inventory through CSV files.
Real-Time Reporting and Analytics
The reporting feature in your e-commerce tools can allow you to access important analytics about your business and understand your core client base. Different POS systems can offer various reports, such as payment reports, tax reports, product analytics, consumer behaviors, profit reports, inventory reports, store or team sales reports, sales trends and customer payment methods.
When customers place an order, their information like name and email address get saved into the POS system. That POS system can also link the customers’ names to their credit cards at each subsequent sale. Businesses can add customers manually if they use other payment methods, such as checks or cash.
Shopify and Square can automate customer management through their POS systems and help you identify missing contact details. Grouping similar customers is another useful feature of a POS system that lets you target marketing emails.
You can use employee management POS tools to track each team member's sales targets and activity logs. With employee management tools, you can track employee training sessions and their salary transactions through assigned identification numbers. Shopify can provide you with full control over the level of access on its POS platform.
Mobile POS Apps
Mobile support has become a vital part of shopping for business POS programs. A mobile POS application can provide you with the ability to create and send invoices with a few simple clicks. Sales can also be tracked through the app and viewed per item or per day.
Shopify mobile POS apps can process credit card transactions while saving customer profiles and providing order tracking. Square mobile POS apps process mobile payments and securely store all payment information for customers.
Pros of These E-Commerce Platforms
- You can start a business with low investment.
- You can reduce the overhead costs of your business.
- Business owners who need a highly customized POS system have the flexibility to choose hardware and credit card processors (any payment provider or gateway).
- E-commerce platforms can handle speed and security on a global scale.
- You can integrate a POS system with other payment providers to create a fast loading site.
- The templates are easy to use, responsive, and work nicely on all kinds of devices.
- E-commerce platforms are user-friendly, manageable, easy to use, and can take care of the tech needs of your store.
- The platform allows you to perform cross-channel selling to boost sales. You can sell your products directly on Shopify via Facebook, Pinterest or through the app that you've developed.
Now, Check the Cons
- Business owners may find transaction fees and app prices expensive.
- You cannot automate some of your e-commerce processes.
- Limited support options in case of any technical issues, so you might have to post or ask a question in a forum.
- E-commerce platforms don’t provide email hosting, so you can’t host a domain-based email address. You may use email forwarding for receiving and replying to emails.