How practical is it for small businesses to sell from their website?

The term e-commerce is a big buzzword, and many traditional ‘bricks and mortar’ businesses are worried about the effect it’s enormous growth will ultimately have on them and their future sales.  You only need to see the rise of Amazon overseas to see what it did to bookstores, or what Netflix did to Blockbusters Video. To sell online may seem far-fetched.

Setting up a website that enable you to sell has become very cheap and easy.  A major service provider is, where they provide all the functionality needed to step up your online store, profile products and execute transactions.

There are a few things you need to consider before you set out selling online:

  • How are you going to fulfill orders? Post, courier, delivery or some other method?  You need to assess what impact this has on cost, and whether it is reliable.  And what about handling returns?
  • How are you going to promote your on-line store? It makes no sense to set it up and hope people simple stumble across it in the vastness that is the internet.
  • Is it a product that people are prepared to wait for? There is something rewarding about waiting for something nice to arrive in the post, but everyday necessities you tend to want immediately.
  • Is there a competitive advantage in being early?

There has been a relatively slow uptake of online shopping in South Africa, which has given smaller businesses some breathing space.  However, you ignore it at your peril.  At least start to think about what you would do, and how you would do it so you don’t get caught off guard when the market shifts and you are left behind.



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