Ecommerce has simplified the world for many of us, easing the consumer shopping experience by leaps and bounds. Thanks to ecommerce, a vast variety of goods and services are readily available with the touch of a button. For consumers, it’s easier to research competitors and hunt for the best prices. But the pendulum swings the other way as well and advances in ecommerce are also helping store owners. Recent web and tech developments mean that ecommerce is getting easier from both sides of the shopping cart.
Want to make your own online store? You can do it in an afternoon with a website builder like Wix. Let’s take a look at some of the other tools making the world of ecommerce easier and more accessible to small businesses around the globe.
Smartphone Camera Tools
The smartphone camera revolutionized the ease with which merchants can get product images online. Unfortunately, until recently, the quality of smartphone pics just wasn’t good enough to look professional, even though the advent of small online shops created a large demand for an easy (and cheap) way to publish high quality photos online.
Everyone knows that better product images improves sales. The proliferation of high quality phone cameras, coupled with great smartphone gadgets, has changed the game forever. Gone are the days when business owners would need to hire a professional photographer to take pictures of their products. With the right smartphone lenses, even your iPhone can take good enough photos to compete with DSLRs.
For those new to the scene, it’s easy to find good tutorials online about how to take stunning professional-looking images of your products using your phone or a basic point and shoot camera. It’s great to realize that, other than the cost of your phone, excellent product photos can be created for free.
Mass Email Clients
MailChimp, Constant Contact, Emma, Simply Cast… all of these mass email clients have made a significant impact on ecommerce. Suddenly, even small shops can mass-email their client base to advertise deals, sales, new products and other developments. And since return clients are the bread and butter of most ecommerce stores, this will move the needle. Luckily great website builders like Wix and Squarespace are jumping on this bandwagon and offering tremendclient contact and mass email solutions; so much so, in fact, that even larger retailers are taking note.
Never before has it been so easy to advertise directly to past clients; this fact alone can send sales figures soaring, particularly during peak seasons.
Social tools have made dozens of aspects of ecommerce easier. Want to ask your clients their opinion on your goods? Use social commenting (like Loopit)! Want to broaden a product exposure with the click of a button? Add social sharing tools! Great products often get lots of shares, which can go a long way in attracting more business.
Setting up and managing payment systems used to be one of the hardest parts of running or patronizing an ecommerce website. But these days, webmasters can add credit card processing with a few clicks. There are many services to choose from, including Leap Payments, PayPal, PaySimple and Flint…Some major banks now have their own plugins to allow for easy online payments. Though all charge a small fee, those fees have been reduced as the payment systems become easier to use.
Web-Based Graphic Programs
Web-based programs like Canva and Imgur, are good replacements for the cost of paying a full time graphic designer. With enough options to make them easy to use and comprehensive, they serve as replacements for professional programs like Photoshop. In fact, you can make pretty much anything for free these days using a web-based graphic programs, including images for ecommerce and social media platforms, modifications of product images, coupons, book covers, presentations, and many elements of web design. You name it, you can make it fast and you can make it free.
For tips to leverage such programs in the best possible way without any added expense, work with high resolution public domain images such as those found in wikipedia’s image database as the base for your graphics.
The Bottom Line
These are only five of the ways that ecommerce is getting easier… even for small businesses. No doubt you can come up with more! And given how fast the landscape is changing, clearly there will be plenty more improvements and developments throughout 2015.