You need money to buy anything, but not necessarily everything.
Again, if you think that only money can make you more money, that is not what I believe firmly. To me, and most of the startups as well, I think it is just the path you choose to make money that matters.
With the advent of open source technologies and the lower cost solutions provided by online store builders, the above statement is very much true. And the results are what you see in various reports .
For instance, PrestaShop , one of the many eCommerce software vendors, is powering more than 230,000 stores so far. What enables them to power so many stores with their open source and cloud solutions, both which they offer for free, making it easy to get started online. There are dozens of similar vendors in the market who are doing pretty similar things.
According to a Forrester Research e-retail forecast , U.S. e-retail sales are expected to grow by 57 percent by 2018. All these lead to the fact that there are enough reasons why eCommerce business has become so popular.
And who, other than startups, could explore the eCommerce domain better and establish it as a next-gen business arena? The process is still on and the advantages of using eCommerce in business are, too.
Startups Need Implementation Help, Not Just Ideas
An idea could be a good recipe for startup success, but it takes much more than that to thrive day in and day out to run a profitable show. The proliferation of online store builders and the acceptability of drag-and-drop, template-based site models by a wider range of users made it very much clear that there is no low-cost alternative to eCommerce solutions.
If you notice, you will see a common trend among today’s young Internet-preneurs. Most of them are fueled with great business ideas, but they are nipped in the bud only because of the implementation support which costs in dollars.
Let us understand their psychology and preferred business model to dive deeper into it. For any startup, you would see a set of common traits.
- I have no money to start a business , but I would like to start one.
- I want to make quick and easy money.
- I want to make money before I spend money.
- I don’t want to park my savings or depend on crowdsourcing to arrange funding.
- I can only invest time, effort, and my business intelligence to start a business online.
- I should not incur heavy losses if I fail  in my endeavor.
- If I need help or additional support from third parties, it should come to me as a free service online.
- I can take risks, but not at the cost of my savings or capital.
- I need a reliable platform online that can get my business up and running for free.
- I don’t want to learn programming languages or coding to setup and run my online store.
- I don’t want this business initiative to be a burden for me in the next 15 or 20 years.
- I may expand my online business and go on a large scale in due time.
The path to creating online stores and selling without a brick and mortar store is perhaps the easiest and most popular option.
If you meet PrestaShop’s entrepreneurial team, a family of eCommerce enthusiasts, you will know how easy it is to build and manage a successful online store at no cost.Yes, setting up an online store with all the basic functionalities does not cost you a penny. Of course, there is a cost once you upgrade your store to avail yourself of premium features and take your store to a new height. Perhaps it is that time when your store will grow bigger.
So, what are the most influential factors that drive startups to explore more and more online store building opportunities?
Easy Site Setup to Get Going
Some of the best online store builders can take you through every step of creating and configuring your eCommerce store, right from home page design to adding product details to checkout security and everything in between. Simple and intuitive Web design interface, a large number of add-ons, online community based help, technical support, feature-rich third party apps integration, as well as a bundle of advanced shopping cart features – eCommerce software providers can actually help you setup an online business in hours if not in minutes.
Shorter Selling Cycles
Maximum return at a minimum effort and investment — that is what eCommerce solution providers have been trying to put into their products. Hundreds of quickly installable features with simple mouse-click configuration can simplify day-to-day back office management jobs and help you focus more on saleable properties for your store, not administrative functions.
Easy Payment Solutions
Once your store is ready with secured shopping cart installed, it is all set to make you money. With the powerful payment and shipping tools of shopping carts you can choose from popular payment gateways and accept direct payments through all major credit cards, debit cards, e-checks and more. Once you have installed an eCommerce template, all that you need is to select and install a payment module and then configure payment settings.
No Shipping Worries
Just select a supply zone by country and the carrier you want to install from a handful of payment management solutions. All these built-in services are ready-to-use for an online merchant. Moreover, you can manage logistics details, set discounts and setup tax rules directly from your back office.
Flawless Customer Service
Customer satisfaction and customer delight are the primary goals of any merchant. The more effortless a shopping experience is the better. With a powerful eCommerce platform, your customers have the convenience of PayPal Express, Guest, and Account Checkout as well as ordering over the phone.
You may even maintain a centralized customer management system within your online store and manage new client account creation, order modification as well as retain existing customers. There is no hassle in implementing, managing and modifying the customer service desk.
Built-in Marketing and Shopping Features
The direct access to Internet marketing tools and fully-loaded powerful marketing features makes eCommerce software a ‘Have-it-All’ solution for every online merchant. With built-in eCommerce SEO features your store can rank higher in search engine results and you can invite a wide range of new customers with less effort. On top of it, off-the-shelf marketing analytics and statistical tools of an eCommerce platform can help you analyze real-time data and make better decisions.
Store owners can also set dynamic pricing rules, offer coupon codes and vouchers as well as encourage positive customer reviews at almost no additional effort. Building customer loyalty programs, email marketing, newsletter subscriptions, managing affiliate programs, daily deals and gift certificates — everything can be easily executed with powerful emarketing features of an eCommerce platform.
Help and Support Services
Most of the popular eCommerce software vendors offer substantial amounts of resources to online merchants. Whether it is a training related help, comprehensive documentation help, direct technical support, live chat, video tutorials, live webinar, one-to-one coaching or a help through community forum, an entrepreneur can take all the advantages whenever they need them. And they’re is free!
Just imagine how much pain and time one needs to take while setting up a physical store. It is relieved here altogether. This article shares more about eCommerce shopping carts for small businesses . And you can always take it one step further and learn the approaches that may shape the future of eCommerce .
A Myth about Startups
There is also a myth about increasing numbers of startups creating online stores almost every other day only to try out their luck. Many people think that it is only the money-minded people who adopt this new generation eCommerce technology to run a better businesses. However, this is not the fact. Any business whether online or offline needs a constant and serious effort from its owner.
The only reason startups are using eCommerce as a software solution in leaps and bounds is that it makes their ground work easy and delivers them almost a ready-to-use selling system.Of course, there are a lot of handy options and multi-faceted features of an eCommerce platform that help store owners save on their infrastructure cost and work hours, but that does not essentially make them revenue automatically.
eCommerce software acts as a tool with plenty of add-ons to get you going easily throughout the life of your store. The rest depends on your deliverables, customer engagement models, support system and other USPs that customers expect from an online merchant.
Setting up a website is just the beginning for launching your business online. You cannot use it effectively until you have your own marketing strategies and chain of other associated activities underway.
So clearly making quick money by setting up an online store is not what eCommerce software is meant for or even valued for. The tooling capability and the lower cost technology solution are what make eCommerce software ‘a friend in need, a friend indeed’ for today’s startups. If you are a startup and you have a brilliant success story to share, please share it in the comments below.
eCommerce photo via Shutterstock