free small business advice & information

Article Index
The Business Advantage
What You Can Sell
What You Need to Set Up
Setting Up a Successful Site
How Do I Receive Payments?
How Much Will It Cost?


1. The Business Advantage

1.1 An e-commerce site gives you a new outlet that is dedicated to your products or services and is open 24 hours a day.

  • You can attract new customers who discover your online shop when using search engines to look for products or information.
  • You can improve support and after-sales service for your existing customers.
  • Customers can order your products direct.
  • You can reach overseas customers who can order when it suits them.
  • If you sell niche items to a widely-dispersed market, the web is ideal to reach those interested in your products.

1.2 Once you have set up your shop, it can provide an efficient selling operation.

  • With no rent or employees needed to man the shop, running costs are low.
  • If your suppliers deliver direct to your customers, you do not need to hold stock.
  • If you hold stock yourself, you may be able to operate with a relatively low stock level.
  • You can monitor customers' buying habits to make it easier for them to re-order favourites or see and buy related items.
  • If you sell information, software, music or images, buyers may be able to download purchases direct from your website.

1.3 You can try out new ideas, adapt them, and scale them up quickly and cheaply.

  • Success can come rapidly, if you identify the right market and make the right offer.
  • Feedback comes on a daily or hourly basis through web statistics and sales figures.
  • If your idea for an internet shop is not working, you can easily pull out without the worry of making staff redundant, getting out of a lease, or writing off shopfitting costs.
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