Online sales are already huge, and the market just keeps growing. Online retail sales have seen a 15% year-over-year increase since 2018, according to U.S. Commerce Department figures; there is a lot of money to be made in selling physical goods online. Still, many online stores fail every day. So how do you ensure long-term success of your own? What do you need to get there?
Selling goods online is just the beginning—successful online stores do more than offer products and accept payment. To be able to scale, expand your customer base or even grow internationally, you’ll need a few essential tools.
1. The Right eCommerce Platform
With the overabundance of eCommerce platform options on the market, it’s important to narrow down your individual business needs to select the right one. An eCommerce platform is software that enables businesses to build, launch, host, and manage their online storefronts. Most platforms available offer similar features, though there are a few key considerations.
The “Nice-to-Have” Features. Most of the popular eCommerce platforms in the market contain the features necessary to effectively present a product and make a sale online, in addition to important features like ISV integration, cart recovery and SSL security. That’s why it’s the extra features that can make the difference. A niche feature of a particular platform may be overlooked by other users, but can mean the world to your business.
Ease of Use & Customer Support. As your business grows, the needs of your website will evolve. Are you prepared to manage all the processes of an online storefront and handle all updates and integrations on your own? If not, it’s crucial to have a team of platform experts and easy-to-use tools to guide you along the way. Remember—it takes skill to create a site that lacks noise and optimizes UX while driving your visitors to a sale.
2. The Right Management Systems
The process of selling physical goods needs to be managed efficiently. You may already have an effective order management or inventory management system in place — but is that system optimized for a growing business?
Your order management system should be fully connected to your ecommerce and payment platforms, along with your inventory management system. This automates and speeds up key factors like inventory checks. After all, you can’t sell goods that you don’t actually have.
The right order management system should also integrate easily with fulfillment services to get your goods to your customers. Consider partnering with a third-party logistics company (3PL) to facilitate shipping and returns so that your growth doesn’t outpace your fulfillment capabilities. This is especially true for businesses aiming to grow their customer base overseas.
Fulfillment services should integrate seamlessly into your website and order management system so that you can effectively calculate shipping to a wide variety of locations. These services should also integrate with your payment platform to ensure a smooth checkout experience.
3. The Right Payment Service
One of the most crucial aspects of an online store is payment integration that works with your unique shopping cart and customer interface. Plugins and pre-built integration are vital aspects to look for in a payment partner. Most importantly, your provider should have the capabilities to grow with your business, no matter where, how or what you sell.
Your payment system’s integration is essential. This integration is the link between any type of software that you use at any point in your business, and a payment provider. Some payment services operate as “gateways,” where multiple integrations (for instance, different alternative payment types, currencies and systems such as order management or ecommerce platforms) are bundled together — but to add any integrations, you’ll need to maintain the code base and continually perform additional development work.
Other services operate as “payment facilitators,” or full payment platforms. Payment Facilitators are an all-in-one bundle with multiple payment types and pre-built 3rd party software integrations, along with additional functionality such as fraud prevention, all available on one platform. This provides the ability to simply turn on or off the desired functionality. For growing businesses, a facilitator is a far more agile option.
Since you’re selling and shipping physical goods, if anything goes wrong with the transaction, you’re immediately looking at a loss of both money and inventory. You should make sure your payment provider comes with fraud management built-in, such as the fraud-prevention suite offered by Kount.
If you’re looking to expand internationally, you’ll need to take some logistics into consideration, especially around payments:
Local Currencies and Personalization. The right payment service have the latest technology to support multiple payment types and currencies without having to bring in additional integrations. Smart payment softwares will be able to personalize your customers’ experience by displaying local language, currency and payment options.
Sales Tax and VAT. Different regions have different tax requirements. Unlike electronic goods, physical goods are generally taxed worldwide. Can your payment provider automatically calculate and apply the relevant taxes, without extra bulky integrations?
Optimize Your Growth
These tools, and identifying the right systems for your growing business, will help you meet your goals better and faster. As a bonus, they’ll also improve your customer experience — so it’s time to optimize your services to help you grow.
Learn more about how BlueSnap can help you better appeal to customers globally and expand sales to online shoppers around the world.