In 2020 and beyond, upgrading your brick-and-mortar business to an e-commerce model has never been more important. This is an important step for most small businesses, whether they’re here in Victoria or around the world.
In 2020 alone:
- The average value of online orders rose by 31%
- 39% of consumers now report that they would prefer to shop directly on a business’s website vs. a marketplace platform
- Here in Canada, retail e-commerce sales spiked to an all-time high while in-person retail sales fell by 17.9%
And that’s just the tip of the e-commerce iceberg.
How can you upgrade your brick-and-mortar business to an e-commerce model? Is there a surefire way of knowing that it will benefit your business? What resources are available to you? Let’s start with the first question.
Upgrading Your Brick-and-Mortar to an E-Commerce Model: How to Get Started
One of the most frequent questions Time2GetOnline fields is, “I already have a website. Can I add e-commerce?”
In short? Yes. More specifically, however, there are three main ways of doing this:
1. Adding a Payment Gateway to Your Existing Site
Pros: As the most basic form of e-commerce, adding a payment gateway (or shopping cart) to your existing website is relatively easy; it can even be considered beginner-friendly due to its simplicity.
Cons: Suitable for those who need a basic way to offer a handful of products and collect basic payment, adding a payment gateway to your existing site is likely not the best option for those who have a large catalogue or are seeking a sophisticated e-commerce set-up.
A payment gateway, like Bambora, is an easy way to let your clients pay their invoice via your website.
2. Integrating an E-Commerce Platform into Your Website
Pros: Viable if your existing website has been built via WordPress or a similar content management system (CMS). This is typically done via plugins and integrations, like WooCommerce, are added to your website, making direct e-commerce sales possible. If you have more than a handful of products in your catalogue, this option is recommended over adding a simple payment gateway.
Cons: You will require your website to be up-to-date in order to download and attach your required plugins. Depending on the CMS, these plugins vary in complexity and the time required to configure them.
3. Adding A Separate E-Commerce Site
Pros: If your website is not compatible with an e-commerce extension, has been hand-coded, or has been built using outdated CMS, adding a separate e-commerce site that is then “joined” to your existing website via a link may be required. If this is required, it also provides an excellent opportunity to overhaul your existing website to ensure it is on par with competitors’ functionalities.
Cons: Perhaps the most time intensive, this method requires either outsourcing or website development know-how. Typically involves an annual fee as well as transaction fees.
Recommended E-Commerce Platforms
Depending on your needs, the following e-commerce platforms are currently the highest-ranked by users:
While Shopify is probably the best known option for this model, each has various pros and cons for your business. We can help you find the right fit for your scenario.
The Benefits of Upgrading to an E-Commerce Model, Continued
E-commerce’s surge in popularity has been a long time coming.
Whether you are a small mom-n’-pop shop, a medium-sized business, or an international brand looking to further your success, focusing on and refining your e-commerce options promotes:
- Flexible buying options for your customers
- Eliminating geographical limitations for brick-and-mortar retail outlets
- Easy integration of deals and/or coupons
- 24/7 purchasing availability
- Increased web traffic to your site
- A substantially improved shopping experience for your customers
On top of reaping the above benefits, upgrading your brick-and-mortar business to an e-commerce model circumvents the price point associated with listing your products on marketplace sites.
Financial Aid for E-Commerce Development: The Launch Online Grant Program
If you are a small or medium-sized business located and registered here in British Columbia, Canada, the BC Economic Recovery Plan has unveiled the Launch Online Grant Program offering to pay up to 75% of the costs of bringing your business online.
Geared towards small and medium-sized businesses throughout BC upgrade their brick-and-mortar business to an e-commerce model in order to improve their earnings and online visibility, the Launch Online Grant Program is investing up to $12 million (up to $7500 per business.)
Check out the Launch Online Grant Program portal to see if you’re eligible (over $30K in sales in 2019, registered in BC, and have a GST number are some of the qualifiers). If you meet the minimum requirements, you can fill out the grant application yourself, or we can work with you to develop your submission, and credit a portion of it towards your site development costs, when your grant is approved. (New changes announced on March 17, 2021 opened this up to service-based industries as well, specifically to incorporate online bookings. If you have a service-based business, let’s chat about adding online booking to your website)
If you’re interested in taking advantage of this program, or you’re looking for more information for your current website, let’s chat. Give us a call and see how we can help you start earning 24/7/365.