Overcoming Obstacles to E-Commerce

August 12, 2020 | E-Commerce

There are many reasons why your business should consider an e-commerce operation. Counterarguments and obstacles to adding e-commerce include significant aspects of your business operation — products to sell, business processes, and current customers, for starters.

It’s important to take a clear-eyed, dispassionate view of these obstacles, because the answers help you get a clearer picture of what you want your business to be.

Should you ask the question, “Why would I not want to move into e-commerce?” (and you probably should), some of your answers might include: 

1. My business doesn’t have a product to sell to the public.

If the public doesn’t want what you’re selling, you shouldn’t be selling to the public; that’s simple enough.

But here’s a follow-up question: How do you know the public doesn’t want your product?

Horticulture businesses might answer that question in terms like these:

  • It’s too big … but there are specialized shipping solutions for oversized items;
  • It’s too heavy to ship … but you can charge for shipping;
  • It’s too expensive … but some people can afford it; and 
  • It’s a bulk commodity … but maybe there’s another use for it you hadn’t considered.

For some businesses, these reasons for not going the e-commerce route are valid and compelling, and not worth rearranging a successful business to try to overcome. If you don’t want to ship a 20-foot maple tree, that’s totally understandable. 

For others, these are business challenges to be surmounted, mice in need of a better mousetrap.

If you find challenges like these daunting but aren’t quite ready to give up on e-commerce, try forgetting about the shipping aspect. People often equate e-commerce and shipping; the two don’t necessarily go hand-in-hand.

For instance, can you offer that 20-foot maple online, but require in-person pickup? That hybrid model may overcome some of your objections and speed your way into e-commerce.

2. I don’t want to totally overhaul the way my business does business.

As mentioned earlier, the decision to go into e-commerce can be a gut check for your business — and you as a business person.

Just thinking about e-commerce produces so many questions.

What’s your risk tolerance? How efficient do you want to be — and how much do you want to invest in efficiency? What are the key tasks you want your best people to be doing?

Where do you want your business to be in five years? Ten years?

The answers to those questions lead to other questions. Pretty soon you’re analyzing the way your business works, looking for bottlenecks. They could be things like:

  • The ability to take inventory and easily transition that information to a database
  • The ability to scale up your ability to take and fulfill orders
  • A general lack of familiarity with websites and technology

If you’re avoiding e-commerce because you don’t think your business infrastructure can handle it, this might be a good time to beef up your infrastructure … even if you decide to not add e-commerce.

3. I want to devote all my time and attention to my current customers.

Modern business is all about customer experience (CX), so it’s admirable that you want to focus on CX with the customers you have right now.

However, ask yourself: Could I deliver the same experience to my customers if I had 50% more of them? 75%? What if my number of customers doubled or tripled? Could I take care of them?

It’s a good exercise for your business to determine the level at which you could no longer give your customers the level of attention and service your current customers receive … if you feel the level of attention and service they receive from you is truly a difference-maker.

CX is a major differentiator for businesses. When a business devotes itself totally to CX everything gets better — morale, retention, repeat orders, marketing, and your bottom line. Just don’t make it an excuse for not growing.

4. It’s too expensive.

Yes, it costs money to implement a seamless inventory-to-e-commerce-to-order-fulfillment solution. But that’s not the question.

The question is whether the money you might spend on such a solution is more or less than the time and resources you spend:

  • Taking inventory
  • Investing in multiple business platforms
  • Trying to get those platforms to talk to each other
  • Paying for shipping, and making sure every order is shipped properly
  • Marketing your business

Everything needs to be considered in context, and the time, people, and money it takes to implement an e-commerce solution needs to be weighed against the costs listed above — and more, if they’re pertinent to your business.

You may find that what you perceived as an added cost may just be a cost shift — or even a cost savings … with additional revenue from e-commerce. 

If you have questions — and even doubts — about e-commerce, and want to talk to experts who have helped numerous horticulture businesses just like your add e-commerce to their operations, contact us.

We’d love to talk with you.

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