Should Your Business Have an eCommerce Website?

It’s not easy to compete in the retail game, is it?

Competition is fierce, and while business owners across both business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-consumer (B2C) markets have big plans for their companies, many struggle to make ends meet. Taking the right approach is key for success.

More and more businesses are seeing that building an eCommerce website offers a viable channel for revenue growth and small business management.

Is it time for your business to start selling online?

Why are so many companies going digital?

Research predicts that worldwide retail eCommerce sales will break $4.2 trillion by the end of 2020 alone, a staggering figure given that modern eCommerce is relatively young in the consumer landscape.

Why are so many business owners jumping on board? After all, most small business owners have enough to deal with — day-to-day operations, employee management, marketing, and long-term growth planning. Who has time to manage an online store?

The idea might sound a little intimidating to overworked business owners, but in fact it’s easier than ever to break into eCommerce, particularly for website users backed by the WordPress.com suite of eCommerce features.

What a WordPress eCommerce website can do for you

At its most basic, a WordPress eCommerce website lets you sell products or services online. Some companies opt to sell entirely online through digital channels, while others prefer to use their online store as a supplement to their brick-and-mortar retail operation. 

For WordPress users interested in adding eCommerce functionality, there are two approaches, based on how your site is hosted. Those hosting through WordPress.com can keep it simple by setting up a WordPress.com eCommerce plan, which offers different levels of subscriptions and functionalities to get your online store up and running fast.

Those with self-hosted WordPress.org websites can also unlock these functions by purchasing dedicated plugins, such as WooCommerce. These tools are more limited than the suite of features offered in WordPress.com eCommerce plans, but they’re affordable and easy to integrate – perfect for self-hosted businesses interested in exploring their options.

Create new revenue opportunities

Let’s be real. The main benefit of selling online is that you’ll have access to a sales channel that runs 24/7, letting you generate sales and revenue while you sleep. This should be enough to pique the interest of most business owners!

Stay competitive

Selling online helps you stay competitive in your market. Several of your competitors are probably already selling online and capturing revenue that could be yours. Naturally, this isn’t what business owners want, particularly those who work in small local businesses that rely on repeat business.

And if competitors aren’t yet selling online — even better! Being one of the first in your area will give you a leg up on your more sluggish competitors. An online store lets you get your brand in front of a bigger audience, helping you grow and retain your customer base.

Support existing sales processes

Of course, some of you may already be selling products online without the aid of a dedicated eCommerce website. If so, you might be surprised at the efficiency boosts an eCommerce plugin provides. Plugins like WooCommerce offer a huge range of eCommerce functions to support your existing sales processes, including payment portals, location-based pricing, and customizable checkout processes. These tools support an integrated eCommerce experience where business owners are always kept in the loop, no matter how many website orders, sales data, vendors, or customer details there are to manage.

Boost SEO value

Don’t underestimate the value of a robust WordPress eCommerce website for SEO! Every landing page, product page, and product image you include can be optimized for search engine value, helping you to earn a high spot in the search engine results pages (SERPs) and increase visibility in Google! Given that so few of us ever click past Google’s first results page, you’ll need a bit of SEO to get noticed.

Customer experience management

There’s also the matter of customer experience to consider! You work day in and day out to provide a quality experience for your in-store customers, and an eCommerce website lets you do the same for your online channels. Whether they’re coming in for a cup of coffee or buying a bag of beans online, customers deserve to have an effortless, secure shopping experience. And if they do, the company profits. In a Qualtrics study, 87% of customers who had a “very good” experience reported being “very likely” to purchase more from the company.

And better yet, with an eCommerce website behind you, you’ll have more ways to capture customer feedback, reviews, and details — all of which can be fed back into your operation.

Sell anywhere and everywhere

An important aspect of eCommerce is that it’s region-agnostic — businesses can sell almost anywhere they want. And while you might not have realized that international sales were within your reach, they absolutely are. The WordPress.com eCommerce plan, for example, allows you to accept payments in over 60 countries. This is important for small businesses to consider, as research shows that online retailers can boost sales by an average of 10-15% just by offering products to international customers.

What are the expected challenges?

There are a few drawbacks to eCommerce worth noting, though depending on the eCommerce website plan you go with, your service provider may be able to give you a hand.

Data security responsibilities

Naturally, if you’re going to sell online, you’ll need to make payment security a priority. There’s a lot to cover here, but this generally involves setting up your online store payments system to stay compliant with payment card industry data security standards. This can be one of the trickier aspects of eCommerce to pin down, but fortunately, many eCommerce website plans — such as WordPress.com — come with built-in encryption, ongoing monitoring, security testing, and regular backups to make things easier for users.

They actually have to like it

Here’s something that few eCommerce providers will tell you about setting up your own online store: Customers have to like it! Just having a store won’t guarantee that they’ll buy from you. Business owners will need to set up a structured online sales process to support their customers from initial research to checkout. Again, this is a big topic to tackle, but it’s an important one for online store success.

According to one survey by Digital Commerce 360, a mere seven percent of business buyers rated the eCommerce sites they use as excellent. Only seven percent! And among their complaints, 76% cited a lack of transparency in the shipping process as a key detractor.

In other words, your customers may appreciate having the option to buy online — but to earn their continued business, you’ll need to make their shopping experience as effortless as possible.

What if my WordPress site is hosted somewhere else?

If you already built a WordPress website using another host, you can still transform it into a versatile eCommerce site — it’ll just take a little extra effort.

One of the most popular ways to bring eCommerce functionality to self-hosted WordPress sites is the free WooCommerce plugin. Visit WooCommerce.com to find out more.

WooCommerce is a great way for self-hosted users to bring in new commerce functionalities as needed:

  • Payment processing
  • Email marketing integration
  • Social media integration
  • Site auditing and maintenance
  • Analytic platforms

The benefit of WooCommerce is that it lets you start for free, and it gives you the no-commitment flexibility to explore different options at your leisure. If you’re looking for a way to add an eCommerce element to your self-hosted site, this is a great way to begin.

Get started with a WordPress eCommerce store

It’s clear that eCommerce is the way the world is moving. Put some thought into how you want to set up your online store and which hosting solution makes the most sense for your brand.

But above all, try to have fun with it! It’s easy to get caught up in the details, but selling online can open up a world of possibilities (and revenue) for a growing company. It’s a well-earned milestone in your company’s growth that you should be proud of. And with the right eCommerce strategy behind you, you’ll be ready to take it to the next level.

Ready to get started? Learn more about the perfect WordPress eCommerce options to suit your growing company.

Thousands of small businesses and online stores call WordPress.com home.

Whether you’re looking to promote your business or share your story, we have a plan that’s right for you.

Create your own website

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

The WordPress.com Team

At WordPress.com, our mission is to democratize publishing one website at a time. Create a free website or build a blog with ease on WordPress.com. Dozens of free, customizable, mobile-ready designs and themes.

More by The WordPress.com Team