What is the Future of Your Online Store?

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If you’re a small business owner and you’ve established an online store, then you’ve already got a leg up on many of your competitors.

But that’s quickly changing. Ecommerce software has become far more accessible over the past few years, and so the barrier to entry has dropped. Businesses that have hesitated to launch their own online stores now realize that there’s nothing standing in their way. Ecommerce is therefore becoming more and more standard and expected, even for smaller firms.  

Today, simply having an online store is a great start, but it’s exactly that – a start. To stay ahead of your competition, you need to look for ways to grow your online sales channels in terms of both revenue and sophistication. With the right mindset, the right tools and the right strategy, your online store can continue to stand out and deliver a competitive advantage, even as your rivals dip their toes into eCommerce. To reach this goal, you should first establish growth goals for your online store, and then ask yourself: What do I need to do to reach these objectives? In other words, What is the future of your online store?

Feeling optimistic 

To answer that question, you first need to think about the future of your business. If you’re like a lot of other small-business owners, you’re probably feeling pretty optimistic at the moment.

As The Associated Press reported, a recent Wells Fargo/Gallup Small Business Index registered at 59, indicating a high level of confidence in their companies’ potential to thrive in the current economy. Of the 600 SMB owners surveyed, just shy of two-thirds called their financial situations “good.”

Preparing for success

Building your store on a sophisticated platform empowers you to take advantage of new, emerging opportunities.

In light of this, small business owners need to think about how they can capitalize on the improving economy. Naturally, that includes an emphasis on the potential for growth, and that requires a focus on their online store’s software. 

Many basic online stores aren’t built on a scalable foundation – they’re fine for low volume sales, but they run into problems as companies scale up. The issue is software: Your business needs software that can do more. As your company and its online store grows, you’ll need to be able to integrate your eCommerce platform with powerful marketing tools, offer a wider array of products to an international client base, customize shipping rates and generally have a great level of control over how your store runs.   

International issues

Look for a platform with built-in international features to simplify selling outside your country. 

Consider, for example, international sales. Expanding into markets outside the U.S. is an excellent way to grow revenue, but it comes with challenges. However, you can make the process a lot easier and more effective with an online store that:

  • Provides automatic language translations
  • Calculates currency conversions on product pages and at checkout.
  • Accommodates a broader range of international shipping options without complications

By building on a platform that can accommodate these needs through native features, you will save yourself from headaches down the road and have more time to focus on sales, marketing and other revenue generating activities. 

Elevating online

Limited control over store settings, transaction fees and other costs can hold back your online store’s growth.

International sales are just one factor to think about when focusing on the future of your company’s online store. As a company and its eCommerce operations grow, there are a lot of small issues that business leaders need to take into account, and that’s only possible when businesses embrace more powerful eCommerce platforms. Consider the following:

  • Transaction fees: These fees may seem relatively inconsequential, especially for fairly small firms. However, a lot of online store platforms start to charge noteworthy fees once the business reaches a certain number of transactions per a given period. As a company begins to scale their sales, these fees can seriously cut into profits. Choosing an eCommerce platform that doesn’t charge transaction fees can be critical for the future of the company.
  • Miscellaneous charges: On a similar note, there are a lot of other relatively small charges and fees that business leaders need to be wary of when planning the future of their online stores. Bandwidth limitations are a big factor – the store should be able to handle any number of visitors, at no extra charge. The same is also true of storage capabilities, SKU limitations and so on. A firm relying on an entry level eCommerce platform will probably run into complications and inefficiencies in all of these areas, but migrating to a more advanced solution can eliminate these challenges.
  • Shipping flexibility: As companies grow domestically and/or expand into new markets, shipping can become complex and costly. Your online store needs to be able to simplify and support a wide array of customizations and use cases related to shipping and logistics. For example, does your online store allow your business to use negotiated rates? What about dimensional shipping? Can you easily tweak your rate calculations? The answer to all of these questions should be a resounding yes, especially if you want your online store to deliver optimized value in the future.
Upgrading

If you’re really committed to growing your online store, then upgrading to a more powerful platform will help you achieve that goal.

With all of that in mind, the obvious answer for many small-business owners is to upgrade their online stores. Only an upgraded online store will empower your business to reach its short- and long-term growth goals. To that end, there are a number of key upgrades to look for. In addition to all of the points already highlighted, your future online store should:

  • Provide a smooth shopping experience, regardless of the number of site visitors.
  • Closely track inventory to avoid unexpected shortages or delays.
  • Allow you to adjust its aesthetics and structure easily whenever you want to make an update. 

If you embrace all of these key points, your online store will be able to easily handle an influx of new, diverse customers, allowing your business to reach your target growth goals. 

If you’d like to learn more about the benefits of upgrading your online store to a more powerful eCommerce platform, start a free 14 day trial of Zoey!

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