We’ve all seen how rapidly e-commerce has taken over but many service-based small business owners and entrepreneurs are still gun-shy about taking their business to the next level online.
Whether you sell a physical product or provide a service you could benefit from online sales.
In this post, we’ll look at the barriers presented by e-commerce for service providers and how many perceived obstacles are easily and affordably addressed by planning your approach like a pro (or with one) and using third party tools that make the whole process much easier.
Here are three common barriers business owners face when contemplating adding e-commerce to their business tools:
1. You don’t sell a product
Many businesses sell a service that can’t draw a clear line between the user and the service.
Whether it’s consulting, speaking, coaching, or any other industry where you are the product, the perception is that e-commerce isn’t something you should pursue.
In reality, you do sell something, but you’ll have to be an out-of-the-box thinker if you want to use e-commerce to build your business and your personal brand.
Are you a consultant? Consultants tend to adapt to the project and use their experience to guide business owners or other service providers through a lengthy process that evolves as the problems are discovered.
Sometimes there are consistent problems that are encountered and that’s where you will see your opportunities.
If you see that company after company is hitting the same wall and you have helped previous clients get past it, then that solution can be a product you can sell.
Get creative! Many successful apps started because someone like you saw an opportunity no one else was addressing and pounced.
This can be said for other service industries as well. It’s not the only approach though; if you’re a coach or a speaker you’ve got potential for e-commerce as well.
Speakers and coaches undervalue themselves habitually. Your value is clear to many other businesses who have hired you so understand that your personal brand makes a big impact.
Take that knowledge and monetize!
Write a book, have shirts and mugs printed, or look at any other way to turn your knowledge into tangible items. These could be promotional items or anything else you think of.
You’ll then not only be making money through sales but building your brand at the same time.
The big point here is not to limit yourself to your service and to recognize the potential of your knowledge. If you’re having issues with this, we have a great mentoring program that can help you discover the hidden potential for e-commerce your brand offers.
2. You don’t have the time
This is the biggest reason most people don’t get into online sales.
The setup, the maintenance, and the eventual product shipping all look like major time commitments.
The new reality of e-commerce for small businesses is these things take very little time.
The setup can be quick or take a long time and the barrier will actually be you. Being overly picky about design elements or quirky functionality always hold businesses back.
Always put the emphasis on your business servicing the user.
Really all you need to do is make sure your website can take and process an order and the information and products are presented clearly with as few steps as possible for the user to complete their purchase.
Maintenance can vary and often it’s a good idea to start things yourself and then hire a third party or freelancer to handle the maintenance.
Sometimes there isn’t much required other than logging in a few times a week, though once you see it all working you’ll likely be inclined to check all the time (in a good way).
Shipping is as easy as applying an app to print shipping labels and then having the item picked up for delivery or taking the items to the post office.
Look at your potential profit margins and see what selling could mean for your business. You might be surprised at how much revenue you’re missing out on!
3. It’s too expensive
This is a major obstacle for many service-based businesses because they’ve seen how expensive it used to be to get into e-commerce, but it’s not anymore.
We looked at the barriers such as making your service viable and how time can factor in. Both indicate loss of revenue for the existing business if you split your time and start up some e-commerce.
In reality, it’s unbelievably cheap to start selling online.
Whether you choose Woocommerce for your WordPress website, open a Shopify store, or opt for BigCommerce you won’t have to break the bank to get up and running.
With Woocommerce the expense is whatever your professional web developer costs. This system works with WordPress so if you’re already up and running with WordPress then you’re cost will either be your time in trying to set it up yourself or the cost of getting it done professionally.
Shopify and Bigcommerce both make it much easier but they’ll also either need to be installed as a subdomain of your existing website or you’ll be setting up a whole new one.
These two have near identical pricing starting at $30 per month and this includes your hosting. They take care of everything such as credit card processing and there is no shortage of apps to handle functionality not native to their platforms.
Taking this approach will be time-consuming though.
If you hire a professional developer for any of these systems, make sure they really know the platforms beforehand because they differ greatly right down to the programming languages they’re built with.
Of course, there are plenty of other options to consider such as 1ShoppingCart or even Infusionsoft and Magento, which are considered to be higher-end options for large-scaled shops.
Ultimately, the short answer to the question is: no, it’s not too expensive. This is because the price range starts with FREE.
The real cost is your time and the only risk is wasting it.
If you do elect to explore e-commerce as an option, put a lot of time into the planning. Not just one day of grinding out ideas but weeks of spitballing and brainstorming.
Look around at what others in your industry have done and even more importantly what they’ve not done and plan everything out properly.
Hiring a professional business mentor to guide you can be the best decision you ever made. You’ll be walked past the typical hiccups and hurdles and on your way to launching your e-commerce project much faster and with much less effort.
More and more service-based businesses are seeing the potential of e-commerce so the quicker you jump into the ring the better. For many, the e-commerce even takes over as the primary revenue driver.
(Featured image by DepositPhotos)
DISCLAIMER: This article expresses my own ideas and opinions. Any information I have shared are from sources that I believe to be reliable and accurate. I did not receive any financial compensation for writing this post, nor do I own any shares in any company I’ve mentioned. I encourage any reader to do their own diligent research first before making any investment decisions.
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