Should your small business launch an online store?

With the wealth of online wholesalers and discount stores, it can seem very intimidating and overwhelming to try to compete online. When trying to decide if your business should enter the competition for the online retail offer, here are a few things to consider:

  1. What do you offer that distinguishes you from competitors? – It’s a well-established fact that most internet purchase decisions are made based on price, but there are other ways to highlight your offering and attract business. One of the great advantages to the internet is that it caters to the specialist. Looking for something unique or unusual only takes a few keystrokes, so highlight your differences.
  2. Remember that even retail is ultimately a service industry. – Users are not shy about commenting on forums, blogs, twitter and facebook etc. about their online experiences. If you want the buzz to be positive then remember to go the distance in the service side of your business. Depending on what you are selling that may mean tracking down elusive items at the request of a purchaser, it may mean including bonuses when goods are shipped, it may mean offering after sales support. Whatever you can do to enhance the user experience will ultimately yield positive word-of-mouth advertising.
  3. Do it properly. – Even experienced internet purchasers will be put off by an ecommerce site that looks like it’s been slapped together without any real effort or thought. Just as it pays to have a professional looking real-world store, it is imperative to have a site that looks and feels trustworthy. Don’t cut corners, they won’t save you anything in the long run.
  4. Communicate, communicate, communicate! – Keeping your site up to date and regularly populated with new content not only keeps you moving up in the search engines, but it also instills your users and customers with a sense of trust based on your visibility. It’s not hard to add new content to your site. Just take a few minutes every day to update one or two elements, whether it be a blog, news section or a new special offer. Don’t be afraid to show the human side of your business, and allow customers to relate to you on a personal level.


Online retailing isn’t going to suit everybody, but it may be more achievable for your business than you originally thought.