The number of daily online sales has increased by 56% since the beginning of March, coinciding with an 85% reduction in brick-and-mortar footfall. This is because, for many under lockdown, eCommerce offers a source of goods and services they might otherwise have to queue hours for. Large store-based retailers are experiencing massive surges in online orders and are expanding their eCommerce facilities and home delivery options in response. Since 2010, eCommerce has been growing exponentially from a 5% share of retail sales to over 16% in 2019. As the global pandemic continues to transform our daily lives, lockdown and social distancing orders are taking their toll on high street retailers and look to have a lasting impact on the ways in which we shop.
The resources available
People have been asking themselves if now is the right time to start an eCommerce business for decades. Simultaneously many have wondered whether they’ve missed the eCommerce boat. The truth, however, is that online marketplaces such as Amazon, eBay and Etsy have made starting your own online business easier than ever. These services provide inbuilt shopfront, payment processing and order management systems which simplify the process of launching your business significantly.
Furthermore, services such as WordPress and Squarespace have revolutionised web design. Ten years ago, a website would cost thousands of dollars and weeks of work to complete. Today, they can be built and deployed within days for a small fraction of the price, all without a single line of code on your part. This has allowed entrepreneurs to establish themselves online, taking advantage of existing marketplaces and affordable web hosting solutions to build their businesses with little investment outside of their product marketing.
Evolving business models
Over 4 billion people now have internet access, and that number grows by the millions each day. This incredible rate of growth brings with it new opportunities and new niches and opens new markets. As a result, recent years have seen a number of convenient, small scale business models emerge and become wildly popular. Dropshipping, one of the most popular eCommerce business models today, is a method in which the retailer never actually lays a hand on the product. Instead, after the product is sold, the retailer purchases it from a third party and has it shipped directly to the consumer. This method has a number of advantages: because little investment is required, the retailer negates a considerable amount of risk while simultaneously simplifying their supply chain and distribution requirements.
Subscription boxes are a relatively recent eCommerce model in which consumers pay for physical deliveries of goods on a recurrent basis. They require significantly more preparation and design but have proven wildly popular for a number of reasons. Convenience is the key to success in today’s retail markets, and subscription boxes offer ready-made product selections for a range of niches from meal kits to personal grooming.
How e-Learning can fill the gap in your skills
Online learning (e-Learning) has rapidly grown in popularity over the last five years, becoming an industry worth hundreds of billions. It now plays a leading role in the lives of those looking to learn new skills of all kinds from home. This is made possible by the numerous free sources of learning material hosted across the internet, and by YouTube in particular, where organisations like Khan Academy provide free lectures.
For those in need of something more official, many of the world’s top universities offer online degrees in subjects from machine learning to business management. Digital learning is cheaper, more convenient and higher quality than ever before. Whatever skills you feel that you lack can be learned and honed through online learning, giving you the confidence and ability to launch and maintain a successful eCommerce business.
Marketing and SEO
Search engines like Google now understand user intent and recognise shady attempts at getting into the first page of results. Instead of metadata and tags, their algorithms have become so advanced that they understand user intent and site content. This means that engines now reward quality content and genuine user interaction over spam and fake social media shares. For entrepreneurs new to the eCommerce world, there couldn’t be better news because this allows you to focus on quality content relating to your niche rather than worrying about learning shady SEO techniques and potentially losing out to businesses with better resources.
Online advertising is more integrated and flexible than ever, thanks to platforms like Adsense, Google’s website monetisation and advertising service. It allows businesses of any size to serve adverts in a targeted manner, meaning that they’ll only be displayed on pages relevant to the businesses target market. Even better, you’re only charged based on user action. In other words, you are charged based on the number of times your advert is clicked rather than how frequently it is displayed. These factors, alongside budget caps and the lack of long-term contracts, make Adsense ideal for small businesses and entrepreneurs in need of affordable, effective online marketing – something that up until a few years ago just was simply not possible.
The internet is expanding at an unprecedented rate, opening new avenues of monetisation and expanding niche markets. The opportunities and resources available to entrepreneurs looking to start their eCommerce business are more numerous and easily accessible than ever: whatever skills you feel you lack can be learned through e-learning. Furthermore, modern business models like dropshipping can reduce the risk and investment required to enter the market. Altogether, these factors make now the perfect time to start your eCommerce business.