Sometimes it seems like the whole retail world is shifting over to e-commerce — and for good reason. In addition to adding revenue to your business, e-commerce can improve your business infrastructure, including your marketing, inventory processes, resource allocation, and customer experience.
However, there are also many advantages to selling directly to customers who come into your business establishment, starting with the most basic one: people have been conditioned to buy plants in person.
From a consumer’s vantage point, horticulture is a “browse-and-buy” business. Customers come in to buy a couple of petunias and walk out with two flats of impatiens and a hanging basket. They may spend hours shopping for hostas or other perennials.
However, e-commerce lets you reach additional audiences, not just locally but regionally and nationally. Think of the people in your market who can’t make it to your retail operation but would still buy from you if they could. Now expand the radius of your business by two … or five … or 10 … or 100.
In a business world that requires volume and sales wherever you can get them, e-commerce helps you reach and exceed sales goals in a uncertain and ever-changing retail environment.
In addition, e-commerce can actually benefit a retail storefront. Think of some of the ways people find out about your business now. You may have signage, a billboard, ads in local media, “buckslips” that you hand out with every sale, social-media posts and programs, and even a website.
When you add e-commerce to your mix:
- Your ads can include your web address and an invitation to shop online;
- Your one-sheets or buckslips can include the URL and mention online ordering, perhaps even offering a discount with your first online order;
- Social media can drive people to your site while it’s still fresh in their minds to place orders; and
- Your SEO (search engine optimization) score will improve, and you’ll rank higher in Google searches, because your website will be so much bigger and have so much more information.
In fact, one way to look at adding an e-commerce operation is that it’s simply a marketing cost that will help you achieve a lot of your larger business goals – name recognition, improved SEO, and the ability to capture impulse buys – while generating revenue.
Let’s consider three other ways e-commerce can benefit a business.
You can’t run a successful e-commerce operation if you don’t know how many plants you have for sale. You also can’t run an e-commerce operation successfully if your inventory is being done with pencil and paper.
E-commerce requires you to take inventory electronically, because you’re going to need that inventory to automatically populate your e-commerce platform, so your online customers aren’t buying Joe Pye weed when that plant has been out of stock for a month.
If you’ve always wanted to take inventory in a more efficient way but haven’t got around to it, e-commerce can be the incentive that gets you to start taking inventory more accurately and efficiently.
Ideally, you’ll adopt an RFID-based inventory system, like Arbré Marketplace. Not only can it automatically populate an e-commerce site, but it can generate significant time and resource savings, freeing key personnel for more important tasks.
Better resource allocation
Like every other smaller business, you’re probably struggling with the best way to allocate personnel and other resources. While an e-commerce platform adds complexity to your business, it also requires you to look hard at your business and decide what’s working efficiently, what’s in need of an efficiency upgrade, and what your key people should be doing.
As we just mentioned when talking about inventory, there are likely better, more efficient ways for you to do a lot of the individual components of your business. This is a great time to ask, “How can we do this better?”, and look at cost-effective solutions to help you do that.
RFID-based inventory is one example; your accounting setup is likely another. Our experts can help find inefficiencies in your operation, and provide cost-effective ways of boosting efficiency.
Better customer experience
In business these days, whether you’re on the wholesale or retail side, it’s all about treating your customers well. By streamlining and automating key processes, adding an e-commerce platform can help reduce errors and help free up resources.
The error reduction means all your customers get what they ordered, quickly and efficiently; the freeing-up of resources means your best people can have more time to spend with your best customers.
Don’t underestimate the power of an outstanding customer experience to propel your business forward. If you give your employees the power and resources to make sure your customers are more than satisfied, that does wonders for employee morale and retention.
If you build your business processes around your customers they will order more, and more often, because you make it so easy — and in the process, you’re freed from the necessity to sell on low price alone.
Finally, the No. 1 most efficient, cheapest, best way of marketing your business is having a good customer tell someone else, “You know, business x does a really great job,” without you even asking them to give a recommendation.
Treat your customers well, and you’ll get to that stage. If you’re looking for more reasons why your business should consider e-commerce, contact us … and see how we can help your business grow.