The rapid dissemination of information and communication technologies (ICT) and particularly the massive adoption of the Internet in the past decades have boosted the use of e-commerce as a distribution channel. The growing role of e-commerce resulted in unprecedented structural changes in many industries. These transformations are already generating a major reorganization in the way some products are manufactured, marketed and purchased, as exemplified by the travel and tourism or media industries. Today business to consumer e-commerce represents only a small segment of total retail in most developed countries. But it has been showing impressive growth rates even during the recent economic downturn. This augurs a rapid expansion in the years to come.
The expected benefits of e-commerce are manifold. For consumers, it provides a useful and convenient platform to buy an enlarged set of products and services from more vendors at presumably better prices. Consumers can use search engines and price comparison sites. This significantly reduce search costs, to find and compare many different offers for the same product. In addition, electronic markets allow consumers to shop at anytime from anywhere. As a result they avoid the problem of opening hours, distance to shop or availability of items.
E-commerce also benefits firms by providing a channel to better promote and distribute their products. Electronic markets allow sellers to efficiently transfer relevant product information to potential buyers, which reduce their search costs. Moreover, firms can use digital technologies to increase product differentiation and soften price competition; to differentiate themselves by superior interfaces with respect to competitors and create switching costs. Furthermore, electronic-mediated transactions offer new ways to gauge customer preferences more truthfully. Hence offer opportunities for targeted advertising, personalized marketing, product customization and price discrimination. Hence, numerous reasons suggest that social selling can positively affect social welfare. The question of who benefits more remains a matter of empirical analysis (Bakos, 2001).
The Internet is great because it lets you punch above your weight in attracting customers. In fact, with a well-designed website, your business can reach just as many people as a much larger company. What’s more, creating an e shop has never been easier—making it possible to sell to a global audience, 24 hours a day. Here are three steps to help your business reap the benefits of e-commerce:
Start with an online strategy—a roadmap that guides your Internet activities while supporting your overall business goals. A lack of planning can lead to wasted money and effort. Your online strategy should identify goals for your web presence, your target audience, your content strategy including key messages, and a mobile strategy to ensure your content is accessible on smart phones and tablets. Finally, you need an action plan, including a timeline, who will do what and a publishing schedule for online content.
Next, you’ll need a website with an online store that attracts Internet traffic and convinces visitors to buy what you’re selling. Many options exist depending on your budget. The simplest solution for entrepreneurs with little web experience is to hire a web designer to create an e-commerce enabled site. If you’re more budget-conscious, you might want to consider various free or low-cost e-commerce services. These services provide tools to create a basic website that includes an online store with a digital shopping cart, payment via credit cards or other methods such as PayPal. They also allow you to offer an online product catalogue, options for customer reviews and feedback, and data on your sales to help you track performance.
Before you launch your site, be sure your company is ready to handle the new business. You’ll need the infrastructure to handle orders, shipping and returns. Also make sure to integrate your online efforts with your other operations. For example, sales reps should know about any online promotions. Order fulfilment is a huge part of e-commerce, but it’s often an afterthought for businesses. If you have all these orders but can’t fill them or make mistakes and get tons of returns—there goes your investment.
Social selling is about leveraging your social networks to attract the right prospects and to build trusted relationships. Ultimately, social selling is a strategy used to help you achieve your sales goals by answering prospects and potential buyers questions through thoughtful content and social interactions. In a nutshell, social selling is the process of using tools like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn to create relationships, define your reputation, gain visibility among your target market, deliver value to your target market and establish credibility.
The benefits of social selling will certainly affect a business as a whole. Of course, the main impact will be for sales and sales teams. But this does not mean social selling is only for your salespeople. Below are the benefits of social selling for your company and employees.
Social selling ncreases brand visibility. When more employees are sharing content and optimizing their social profiles, their networks are clicking and engaging. Many times, these are people who are not familiar with the company or do not even realize the value they are missing.
It also drives more leads and higher quality as well. Just as brand visibility increase, so do leads and the quality of those leads. When you have a team of social sellers armed with content, they are educating their social connections. People on LinkedIn for example are especially more interested in this kind of information. Plus, people trust recommendations from friends, colleagues, and family over any other forms of marketing (ads, corporate handles).
Additionally it boosts web traffic. As your brand visibility increases and more employees sharing company content and news, more people will click or search for the company website. it helps boost sales results, too. Besides the increase in quality leads that can help sales, social selling is also a great way to increase deal size and drive better win rates. Meaning more clients and customers and more revenue for your company.
Naturally, companies gain the most from having most or all employees active in social selling. But, employees of various departments also reap the benefits by becoming active social sellers too. For expample, social selling builds their personal brand. Not every employee will care about creating their own personal brand, but sharing on social networks and optimizing their profiles can quickly and unintentionally do so.
It also peers see them as thought leaders. Similarly to personal brand, not all employees will care to be thought leaders. However, employees can become the go-to source for information and are the trusted resource to prospects, buyers, and customers.
It is also important that it gives future career opportunities. By optimizing their social profiles and actively being a social seller, more people will notice. This includes employers, recruiting firms, and talent acquisition leaders. It doesn’t just mean new future job opportunities but could lead to article interviews, writing gigs, etc. Of course, your company doesn’t want to lose employees, but you can’t stifle their growth either.
Finally, social selling contributes to company success. Besides bringing their talent already to their specific job duties, employees are contributing to the growth and financial success of their company even further. This can help add more pride into their work and company. That, of course, can fuel them sharing more content and talking about the company they work for even more.
Nowadays due to the pandemic more and more things that we used to take for granted are being overturned. People spend more time at home than they used to and are trying to adapt to the new market conditions. Hence when they wish to purchase a product, they search online. As a result we have two types of companies. Firstly, there are companies that have an online presence which not only are noticing an unexpevted increase in their sales, but they get the oppurtunity to gain a long tern relationship with new customers.
Secondly, there are companies that don’t have a website because they don’t think it’s very important. These companies usually find themselves trying to keep up with the new data. For the second type of companies it’s difficult – but not impossible to succeed in establishing themselves in e-commerce. If they start to build a website right now they can only benefit from it.
Even before Covid-19, e-commerce was rapidly growing. According to Digital Commerce 36, the past few years online sales are meeting a bigger growth than the retail sales in general. In 2007 e-commerce had only the 5,6% of the total retail market. However, by 2017 this number was increased to 13,2% and in 2019 to 16%! Overall online sales are growing by 14-16% per year since 2015, while retail sales in general are growing only around 4% per year.
The pandemic has definetely helped online sales to grow very quickly, because more and more customers are discovering the convenience and the benefits of an online purchase while they are in their homes. This doesn’t necessarily means that online sales are the only way. But it is an indication that the companies that have an online presence are enjoying huge benefits unlike companies that exclusively depend on their physical store.