It is possible to do e-commerce
The post-COVID economy: A land of opportunity?
Yes, we are entering a new era. Call it a post-COVID economy, call it a radical business change, call it “the new normal”, the question that many have is: How can I enter into this new world and survive? And specifically, does e-commerce offer me an opportunity to not only survive but thrive?
The first important fact to share is that it is possible. The rules of business may be changing very quickly, but it creates many opportunities. Well, at least for those that first see it and secondly respond to it.
This said the “new normal” offers as many risks as it does rewards. New offerings of “easy” drop-shipment models, courier aggregation sites, and “simple” Instagram and Facebook shops offer the world. But do they deliver?
The one commonality between these offerings is this: They all promise a very simple and easy way to make money. However, none of them seem to focus on the business rules and business skills required by any business, e- or not, to sustain and grow.
Can any business change to e-commerce?
Whilst capitalizing on online business seems the way to go, the question is: Can any business do it?
To answer this, we first need to understand what e-commerce is. In a simple definition, e-commerce is a business model that lets companies and individuals buy or sell things over the internet. And this should provide a foundation for answering the question. Can you sell whatever you are doing on the internet?
Yes and no. If you have a high-value product that can be shipped easily by a courier company, most probably yes. If you have a low-value bulk product that is difficult to ship, possibly no. But before we offer examples, let’s first look at the types of e-commerce businesses.
Types of e-commerce businesses
1. Business to Business
This is where one business does business with another business. This means that the final consumer is not involved. Typically, this is where manufacturers, wholesalers, and retailers trade their goods and services.
2. Business to Consumer
This is where a business sells directly to consumers. Therefore, the consumer browses a website in the same way that they will browse the isles of a shop. They then place their orders and the goods are shipped to them. As examples of this, we all know amazon.com, jingdong, alibaba and locally takelot.com.
3. Consumer to Consumer
This is where consumers trade directly with each other. For instance, they typically focus on selling personal goods or assets, cars, bikes, electronics, and the likes are bought and sold through businesses like olx or FaceBook Marketplace.
Changing business to an e-commerce business
Even though it is clear that businesses need to transform themselves to adapt to new market conditions, many are lagging behind. Why is this?
It is still a business!
In many cases, changing a business to an e-commerce business is not only about registering a website or adding a cart and checkout function to a website. Many of these elements have to be there anyway. By creating e-commerce elements on a website does not change the business. In fact, the genetics of the business needs to adapt and culminate in e-commerce.
Policies and procedures need to change
Take sales as an example. Many businesses rely on reps and on direct sales methods. By augmenting this approach through social media and online platforms does not change the remuneration structure of reps. The financial, human resource and operational genetics of the business are still shaped around the known practices. This means that by simply using technology because it is there and available can pose a business with a new set of problems. Where does online advertising fit in? Who deals with the leads generated by google AdWords or Facebook marketing?
Square e-peg in a round e-hole?
In many cases, we have seen acrimony created by fitting these new tools to an old paradigm. The business feels that the rep needs to generate leads through their traditional relationship-driven activities and that digital relationships created by the business are not rewarded. However, from the point of view of the customer, the digital links to the business are just other ways of communicating with the business.
Many e-commerce start-ups fail
Changing into a true e-commerce business is not as simple as it seems. Which is why many e-commerce start-ups fail. This said, there are ways to address this, ways to optimize the creation of either a new e-commerce business or to transform an existing business. And you will most probably not find a YouTube video that explains this to you in seven minutes.
This is why we produced a detailed process and plan to follow, with the coaching and help needed to make it work.