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Easy sell: How e-commerce can pay off for small businesses

Published:
9/03/2016

Selling your products and services at any time of the day or night sounds like heaven to a lot of small-business owners – until you mention the term e-commerce.

It can be a hair-raising topic for a lot of SMEs, with confusion about what it means and visions of budget-breaking web developer bills and cash disappearing into thin air.

 

Book now for Digital Brisbane's Power-Up Small Business workshop: e-Commerce


E-commerce – the ability for business owners to sell products and services online and manage payments and shipping – has taken a user-friendly turn recently, with easy tools for businesses that won’t cost a digital arm or leg. Three Brisbane SMEs share why e-commerce has worked for them and reveal their top tips for selling online.

Gain customers from a whole new market

Charlies Fruit Market 

Reaching new customers online is bearing fruit for Everton Park businesses Charlies Fruit Market and Charlies Fruit Wholesale.

Business development manager Elias Tahan says extending the business with an online store has increased its exposure massively and drawn in  new clientele.

“The demand for online shopping is why we pushed into the digital world and we studied the market to see what they wanted,” he said.

“The exposure to a whole new market has really paid off for us. Online sales are a really good catch of the market but we find people looking at the online store often end up coming into the physical shop, so it has driven more customers that way.

“It has also helped us generate a huge following on our social media.”

Charlies Fruit Market’s Facebook page has close to 57,000 followers, with helpful, interesting social media content driving fans to the online store.

TOP TIP – Ease of use for customers: Tahan says anyone considering using e-commerce for their business needs to put ease of use for the customers as a top priority.

“Having a user-friendly site is number one. It is key. Customers only stay on a website for 30 seconds so you need to keep them there and make it easy for them.”

Speed up your cash flow and your business

Josh Cobb 

Chief Executive of Brisbane based digital marketing company Stepps Josh Cobb says the choice to use an e-commerce solution was simple and the biggest payoff has been speed.

“Not just in relation to receiving monies, but for the clients to kick-start their new projects sooner,” he said.

“Quite simply, we didn’t want to wait to get paid. Invoicing and waiting on bank transfers is so 1996. Providing multiple payment options to our clients online – right from the start – has quite literally saved the business a staff member.

“The integration options with accounting software and invoicing is a no-brainer these days and I estimate integrations alone has saved us more than $30,000 a year.” 

TOP TIP – Get support: Cobb says businesses should seek advice and education when selecting an e-commerce solution.

“Finding a CRM, accounting package and payment gateway that all talk to each other was a challenge. But now with tools like Zapier, there’s no excuses for any business.”

Your customers will love you for it

LUXBMX

LUXBMX may be a rather cool BMX and streetwear store down a laneway in West End but that hasn’t stopped customers from rural and remote areas sending the retailer love for selling its niche wares online.

LUXBMX digital guru Mitch Wood says using an e-commerce solution has given the shop a highly valuable ‘ability to connect’ with customers.

“We get a lot of appreciative emails, phone calls and posts on social media from mail-order customers and we find that very rewarding,” Wood said.

“The fact that customers feel a connection with the store, having not set foot in it, is a great feeling.

“With BMX, our demographic is a lot younger and more tech-savvy than most industries so online shopping makes sense. E-commerce was always a priority for us from the beginning.”

TOP TIP – Only use what you need: Wood says simplicity is everything for retailers starting an online store.

“There are some pretty complex e-commerce solutions available that have elements that most businesses will never need. Keep it simple and you'll have a lot less headaches.”

Want learn how to boost your business using e-commerce? Register now for Digital Brisbane’s Power Up Small Business Program: E-commerce workshop on Tuesday March 15.   

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