More and more Indian businesses are looking at online sales as a viable tool to enhance their profits. This is not surprising, since nearly 147 million Indians now shop online, a number that will more than triple by 2020. Selling online provides a host of advantages, allowing businesses to expand their market globally. However, many small businesses don’t make the transition, as they get intimidated by the large number of shopping cart software providers to choose from.
There are currently 147.8 million Indians who shop online, with an additional 210.46 million expected to start by 2020.
If you are a small business owner eager to start selling online, but not quite sure how to start, here’s what you need to understand.
Demystifying the shopping cart website
We all know what a real shopping cart is. Most of us have pushed one loaded with groceries and other purchases at a shopping mall at some point in time! Well, that shopping cart has a digital equivalent now, thanks to the advent of eCommerce.
Any visitor to your business website who wants to purchase your products online will first have to select and place the desired items in a virtual shopping cart. Digital shopping carts typically offer:
- A means of displaying product photos and descriptions.
- A variety of payment options.
- Encryption technology to protect customers’ private details from theft.
- Shipping and inventory management.
The best shopping carts take care of everything with little effort from you after the initial setup.
Why you should sell online
Quite frankly, there’s no reason for not selling online, as eCommerce has the potential to scale up your business enormously with minimal effort. Here’s how it helps:
Expands your customer base
You can extend your sales across geographies and even go international. More potential customers equate to more sales.
Requires low investment
Setting up an online store is way cheaper than opening a regular brick-and-mortar one. Online store owners don’t need to spend money on rent, electricity, air conditioning or shopping assistants’ salaries.
Automates inventory management
Your shopping cart software tracks and manages your inventory with precision. This makes planning easier for you and avoids disappointed customers when they learn the product they ordered is out of stock.
Improves financial reporting
You will be able to accurately gauge the performance of your business on an on-going basis, thanks to built-in sales tracking and analytics.
Allows you to compete with large businesses
eCommerce empowers small businesses to compete with much larger ones, as they are able to sell 24X7 on the web. And a small business is just as capable of winning a spot on Page one of the search engine results page as a large, well-funded one.
Gives you valuable customer data
Online selling gives you access to data pertaining to customer purchases that you can use to serve them better and thereby enhance customer loyalty.
Choosing a shopping cart
If you are convinced about the merits of selling online, you can now turn your attention to the most important decision of all: choosing a solution provider.
However, you need to understand the various options available in order to choose the one that best suits your requirements. Let’s look at what these are.
SaaS (Software as a Service) shopping carts
These are ideal for small businesses that don’t have websites, as they require minimal technical knowledge to run and don’t cost much. Someone like a small retailer can set up a professional shopping cart website in no time with the help of eCommerce solutions like GoDaddy’s Online Store or BuildABazaar.
Apps, payment services and plugins
Many business owners who already have websites might choose to go for shopping cart apps that can take customers from their website to an online store in an instant.
If you are quite happy with your existing website, there really is no need for you to create another website to enable eCommerce.
eCommerce solutions with built-in customers
While it is all very well to add eCommerce to enhance your small business’s profitability, the fact of the matter is that you might not be sure if your website will attract much interest in the first place.
You however do have the option of selling through a marketplace service. Marketplaces take care of all the payment processing and shipping for you, but you will have to share your profits with them — in the form of monthly fees and/or commissions.
- Flipkart: India’s largest online marketplace by shipments.
- Amazon: The second largest marketplace in India.
- Snapdeal: Snapdeal is known for electronics.
- Myntra: An Indian fashion eCommerce marketplace.
- Jabong: Sells shoes and clothing for men, women and children.
All you need to do is to create a page on one or more of these marketplaces to potentially connect with thousands and thousands of customers.
Pro tip: Use a marketplace to prove there’s interest in your product, then set up your own online store.
While there are a lot of options to choose from, here are the key features you should look for in a shopping cart:
Ease of use
The solution you choose has to be user-friendly so you can set up the shopping cart without much fuss. It might be a good idea to read through some customer reviews and testimonials to see what users are saying.
It is important that the solution you choose provides you with a number of professional-looking customized themes or templates to choose from, as your site’s appearance will have an impact on sales.
Secure payment processing
Built-in payment processing lies at the heart of eCommerce. Go for a solution that you fully understand, in terms of the billing and payment process.
Shipping too is an integral part of the eCommerce process. You might want to opt for solutions that manage it for you.
24/7 customer service
No matter how easy-to-use your shopping cart is, you will very likely have questions from time to time. You should go with a solution that includes dependable customer support.
Start selling online
Adding a shopping cart to your website will likely benefit your small business, considering that more and more people in India are buying products online these days.
Research the features offered by various solutions and choose the one that best suits the requirements of your business. If you’d like to test the interest in your product before committing to building your own shopping cart website, try selling on a marketplace like Flipkart or Amazon first.