Ecommerce is an increasingly important component of any business. Forrester Research predicts that U.S. online retail sales will climb 10 percent year-over-year to hit $250 billion by the year 2014. Consumers are flocking to retailers with sites that provide secure and painless 24-hour shopping experiences. Businesses without sensible electronic platforms that market, take orders, and receive payments will likely suffer compared to retailers with robust platforms.
For retailers with a thin online presence or weak sales, a turnkey solution obtained from an ecommerce specialist might be the optimal solution to avoid the expense and frustration that result from doing it yourself or hiring in-house IT staff. Selecting the right provider to set up and maintain a system will greatly influence the overall success of your business, so choose wisely — because it truly matters.
When researching ecommerce consulting companies to set up a website, criteria to use include:
- credit card integration
- shipping integration
- accounting integration
- experience with businesses similar to yours
- solid testimonials
- a written commitment to service ‘round the clock should issues arise
While reviewing their existing projects online, assume the viewpoint of the customer and check for ease of navigation and a quick checkout system. Also, watch for hidden fees and nickel-and-dime add-ons. A turnkey system should be all-inclusive and handle inventory management, invoicing, interfacing with database and accounting software, and even social networking.
One final note: While your business may require primarily a brick-and-mortar establishment to actually conduct business (such as a hair salon or dental practice), maintaining an ecommerce site with information about your products and pricing is still vital. Forrester Research informs that in 2009, nearly one trillion dollars of in-store sales were influenced by online research conducted by consumers before setting foot in a retail store, and that number is expected to grow yearly.