What is “digital commerce” you might ask and why is it important for small businesses in particular?
Let’s define what digital commerce is. Contrary to what most might think, it is not just eCommerce.
Digital commerce, or D-commerce, is an electronic commerce solution used by an organization that helps them to deliver and sell products and services online. It is used by companies that sell products, services, news, subscriptions, documents or any form of electronic content.
The digital commerce-ready company easily collects payments, handles customer refunds and billing, and manages other accounting functions for their customers online.
Or in simple terms: Digital commerce is a solution to attract local and global customers to engage with you. There is a key distinction between eCommerce and digital commerce. The keyword is engage, not just transact.
Engage means customers recognize your company and its brand, transact with you online or offline, recommend you to others, and come back for more.
One other fact that you need to recognize is that more and more transactions are influencing what is happening online.
It is estimated that online transactions have exceeded $1 trillion worldwide in 2012. It is slated to grow at a double-digit rate for the next 5 to 8 years, according to AdWeek.
One other fact is that almost 67 percent of small businesses in the U.S. do not transact online and only 60 percent of small businesses have online presence according to research by Intuit last year.
So now the answer to the question, “Should small businesses become digital commerce-ready?” is easy. It is obviously a big, “Yes!”
Let’s go through a few examples of digital commerce-ready businesses:
- A publisher should be able to distribute and sell news (online and offline, if applicable), collect subscriptions, host events (online and offline), and sell or share any digital content. They should be able to collect payments, handle customer refunds, bill customers using digital tools.
- A restaurant should be able to easily share recipes, coupons, and menus online to engage with their customers. They should also be able to sell gift cards, event hosting services, special vouchers and/or gift cards. They should be able to collect payments, handle customer refunds, schedule customers online for special events and more.
- A service provider or consulting agency should be able to easily share business templates, eBooks and digital documents so they can get the attention of potential customers and establish themselves as experts and build trust. They should be able to collect payments, handle customer refunds, schedule online webinars, and more.
Now that we understand what digital commerce is, let’s figure out how it supports a business?
Here are 4 reasons why small businesses should be exploring the potential benefits of digital commerce:
Reason No. 1: Discovery
If you want your business to be discovered by your customers, you have to be digital-ready. More and more consumers are searching online to find businesses when the need arrives. If your business cannot be found online, then you are losing out on a lot of opportunities.
Reason No. 2: Customer Convenience
A majority of consumers want information instantaneously and they rely on digital media to provide it. They want to find what they are looking for at any time, from anyplace. And consumers are looking on their desktop devices, tablets, and smartphones to do so. Being digital-ready means that your customers will have access to your information at their convenience.
Reason No. 3: Conversion
Consumers want to know what you have to offer, be able to compare your services or products, and once they make up their mind, they should be able to transact with you easily. Think of this as new revenue and new leads. Without being digital-ready, you would not have been able to capture this new opportunity.
Reason No. 4: Add New Customers
Once you are digital-ready, you can employ campaigns to up-sell and cross-sell your products or services to your current customers or grow via referrals. Being digitally ready also drives more foot traffic to your physical location and more …
Which of the four reasons intrigues you to take action? Share your thoughts on what digital commerce-ready means to your business?
Digital Office Photo via Shutterstock
Customer convenience must be stressed because once a customer doesn’t feel comfortable enough to buy, expect him or her to click the back button and look elsewhere. In these cases, it will most often be your competitor.
You are spot on. Customer convenience is critical. When you think about competitor it can either Amazon, Target or local businesses across the street. Thanks for sharing your input.