Ecommerce is one of the fast-growing markets in 2020. This is unsurprising as consumers are choosing online shopping more and more. In 2019, 80% of internet users in the US shopped online at least once.
There is no doubt that e-commerce has huge potential for new businesses looking to enter the market. However, it is also not without its challenges. like every other thing that has its own benefits and challenges. Along with more customers, e-commerce has seen an influx of businesses into the sector in recent times, making this a very crowded space. Amazon marketing, for example, is becoming increasingly complex as more sellers enter the marketplace, making it more competitive than ever.
If you’re thinking of starting an e-commerce business in 2020, it is important that you are aware of both the advantages and the pitfalls. Here are the key benefits and challenges of starting an e-commerce business today.
Benefits and Opportunities of Starting an Ecommerce Business
1. Customizable Products
One of the great opportunities for e-commerce businesses in 2020 is personalized products. In fact, one survey showed that 32% of e-commerce companies are selling personalized products of some kind. The e-commerce model is ideal for these kinds of products: anything from mugs and t-shirts to action figures that can be made to personal requirements. This market is huge, and perfectly suited to small e-commerce businesses, especially if they find a unique niche.
2. Social Media Purchasing
It was bound to happen sooner or later: two of the biggest types of online activity, e-commerce and social media, coming together. Consumers can now buy products directly through social media posts. This is something customers are taking up with gusto: 55% of online shoppers have already bought something directly through a brand’s social media post. This is a huge opportunity for new e-commerce businesses to advertise their products to customers on social media and lock in sales directly.
3. Sell Through Google
Another online giant, Google, also represents a great opportunity for new e-commerce businesses. The platform now has Google Shopping, which means that products can be found by any customer that shops online. By optimizing their listings for Google Shopping, even the newest of eCommerce businesses can find a large number of customers for their products, driving sales and rapid growth.
Challenges of Starting an E-commerce Business
1. Finding the Right Technology
The good news is that there is a wide variety of choice when it comes to e-commerce platforms and tools in 2020. Unfortunately, this can also make it difficult to know which is the right technology for your business. Tech is usually one of the biggest investments an e-commerce company will make, and therefore it is important to make the right choice. Additionally, as e-commerce develops, technology is rapidly developing to keep up. This can mean a headache for businesses as they try to integrate their old applications and databases with new technology.
Appropriate security technology is a big challenge with modern e-commerce businesses, as the booming sector becomes more and more a target for cyber-criminals. It is therefore critical that e-commerce businesses adequately protect their virtual assets from attacks.
2. Competing with Large Brands
Ecommerce is an open playing field. Consumers can purchase from whoever they want, whether a tiny solopreneur, or a retail giant. On the one hand, this opens opportunities for anyone, no matter how small, to sell online. On the other, it also means that new, small e-commerce businesses must immediately compete with the world’s biggest brands.
This can be a challenge, as it means competing against massive marketing budgets and bulk production that drives down prices. One of the best ways a small e-commerce business can be competitive in this context is by narrowing down on its niche. By having their own specific market, and knowing what that is, even the smallest business can put themselves apart from any competition.
3. Shipping Issues
As an e-commerce business, so much can be done virtually. However, there is one aspect that is very much in the “real” world: the shipping and handling of the product. Effective and efficient shipping and delivery, as well as returns, is one of the biggest challenges any e-commerce business must face.
This is a big learning curve for new e-commerce businesses who must establish good systems for shipping, and allow for the possibility of returns at the same time. It is equally important that shipping and return costs are appropriately factored into the business model. Although this can require a large amount of investment in time and money at the start, once these systems are established, the business will be well-positioned for the future.