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E-Commerce: The Pros and Cons of Doing Business Online

There are both advantages and disadvantages to moving your current business model online. However, with a little insight and a few tips to point you in the right direction, you can learn how to maximize the advantages, minimize the disadvantages and create a successful web-based business.

The Pros

Cost
Launching an e-business has a much lower overhead than opening a brick-and-mortar storefront. The world of e-commerce makes it easy to develop a professional-looking website, optimize it to target your consumer demographic and effectively market your products or services. Hiring a professional web development company may be much more affordable than you think, and the services provided by experienced developers and marketers will yield a very high return on your investment. Compared to main street business models, which require a lot of up-front costs for leased space, product displays, hired staff and other essentials, an e-business will save you money from day one.

Flexible Hours
Don’t want to work on Sundays? Like to take the afternoons off? Moving your business to the web can give you the freedom to set your own hours and make more time to spend with friends and family. Product-based businesses have the ability to set up shop online where customers can make purchases 24/7. As long as you schedule yourself time to fulfill orders and be available for customer service requests, you can decide when and where you’ll work. Many e-commerce business owners do a lot of their customer service via mobile devices, inviting customers to contact them direct via email, contact forms, instant messaging or other web-based communications services. Service oriented businesses can also set their preferred schedules according to the type of services they provide.

The Cons

Building Traffic
If you don’t know what you’re doing, it can be utterly impossible to build up traffic to your new web-based business, unless you already have a large customer base coming from your brick-and-mortar business. Buying traffic via pay-per-click (PPC) advertising or search engine marketing can help boost your traffic and increase sales, but there are fundamental techniques and methods that must be employed to make the most out of this type of traffic. If you don’t have time to learn the ropes, hiring a professional web development company can really be an asset to building traffic and increasing sales. Hiring an expert in search engine optimization (SEO) and business web design can help you build organic search and referral traffic without having to invest a lot into purchasing it from outside sources.

Time
While you are free to set your own hours and conduct product sales automatically through your online business, it can also take time to establish a solid customer base and a create a website that will meet their demands. Quality, relevant content must be added to your site on a regular basis in order to keep customers coming back for more information or to make future purchases. Original content will also help boost your rankings and listings in the search engines. It is not uncommon to spend 10-15 hours a day to set up a web-based business website. Hiring a professional will reduce the amount of time you’ll need to invest in setting up your business, but be prepared to put in at least some effort in the beginning phases as you develop your e-business site and network.

While there are other advantages and disadvantages to moving your business online, these are the most common issues affecting new e-business owners today. Learning how to use them to your advantage and overcome any issues that might negatively impact your business, is very important. Creating a solid business plan and then following through with hard work will yield the best results.

With so many competing sites working within the same market today, it is more important than ever before to design an e-commerce website that is optimized for both your visitors and the search engines.

If you would like to learn more about how you can start doing business online, contact New Bedford Internet for a free consultation at 508-415-8648.