The e-commerce category features all blog posts related to businesses and trading online. E-commerce stands for electronic commerce.

E-Commerce. Is it the right move for small businesses?

This month we have a guest article about e-commerce sales from our guest blogger Bob Curran of Buy4Now.ie.

Doing business internationally is always a challenge for companies, with language, technology and different buying behaviors globally. Bob is an expert in this field as over to Bob…

E-COMMERCE. IS IT THE RIGHT MOVE FOR SMALL BUSINESSES?

One of the biggest questions facing retailers today is whether or not to begin trading online with a transactional website. What is the right move for small businesses?

Sure there are the usual arguments that your website is your most important calling card to prospective customers and a professional website inspires confidence in the consumer to do business with you. Your website builds your brand, showcases your products and is a more cost effective method of communicating with your customer base than traditional marketing.

Much talk has revolved around ROBOS (shoppers who Research Online but Buy Offline). All of these things are true, but if you are still on the fence about the importance of online shoppers and selling than these following hard facts are impossible to ignore…

According to the latest ComReg data newly published figures for the final quarter of 2009 show the total number of broadband subscribers at 1.44 million, a 20% increase year-on-year. Mobile subscribers are the fastest-growing category, accounting for 467,000 subscribers, an increase of 51% on 2008 levels.

In 2009, the average internet user was online for 13.2 hours a week, compared with 10 hours a week the previous year.

As internet connections increase, the home becomes the social and shopping hub as more and more people are time poor and internet rich. Some other benefits to consider before you enter the e-commerce realm:

E-Commerce Lowers Business Costs

Business on the Internet does not require bricks and mortar or staff around the world, just a Web site and perhaps one central warehouse or location to pick orders from.

E-Commerce Is Accessible Anywhere, Anytime

The audience is on the Internet 24/7.  A business online is open seven days a week, 24 hours a day. Customers can shop at their convenience. The cash register is open all day and night, even while the business owner is sleeping.

E-Commerce Strengthens Customer Service, Increases Customer Loyalty

A website allows a business to address its customers on a personal level.  How often do you learn all about a business upon entering a store? How often do you walk away with a free sample? A website allows businesses the opportunity to give customers information about their company while offering something of value.

For example, a company selling cooking utensils could offer the visitor recipes, a software company could provide interesting articles about the industry, a music store could offer sound bites of new music. By reading about the history and background of a company, the customer feels they have chatted with the owner. Personalizing a company creates customer loyalty. A website is a soft sell: it gives the business an opportunity to market itself while gently leading the audience to purchase its products.

Case in point

Sheilas Flowers is a family run business whose headquarters are based in Bray, Co. Wicklow. Nigel Banks is the MD of Sheila’s and according to Nigel, he realised early that the flower business was better suited to online sales. His answer was to close the company’s high-street shops and join the Buy4Now online family in 2002.

“Some of the main challenges we faced were related to processing the orders, managing the stock and getting orders ready for delivery, we quickly realised that another level of infrastructure was required to manage the online store and its orders, and proceeded rapidly to implement new IT systems. We were able to reallocate existing staff to deal with the additional business and maintain the site to keep it fresh.”

“The current website, which is hosted by Buy4Now Technology group, is now fully integrated with our own in-house order processing software.”

Sheila’s Flowers was a true trendsetter in 1988 when they became one of the first flower shops to have a website. For other retailers the question whether or not to trade online remains, but the answer should in most cases be yes.

Footnote

Sheila’s is Ireland’s only florist to be awarded Interflora’s Ireland’s Florist of the Year seven times.  Sheila’s Flowers offer same day flower delivery throughout Dublin, Bray and North Wicklow, and can send flowers through Interflora to practically anywhere in the world.

The STAR Team

Updated: 14th of March 2016

Social Media Club Seminar on Social CRM

Social Media Club Seminar, Enterprise Ireland

Yesterday we attended Enterprise Ireland’s Social Media Club seminar, Best Connected Enterprise Ireland, which was held in Dublin’s East Point Business Park.

The seminar, which started at 12:15 and ended at 14:00, opened our eyes and gave us new ideas for STAR Translation. The hot topics included:

  • establishing an internal governance strategy to build relationships online through social media
  • identifying the best social media tools and platforms
  • carrying out global communications on a small budget by using social media
  • successful B2B social media marketing

Patrick Murphy the CEO of SiliconCloud,  Ed Grant the CEO of MX Sweep and Naylla Kassam the marketing manager of MX Sweep started with the main presentation.

Also, Dr Theo Lynn, director of the DCU LINK Research Centre and Maeve Desmond, gave a short presentation on the power social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook have on companies and how we should use this power to bring more traffic to our websites without it costing us an arm and a leg!

The STAR Team

Google search changes in algorithm

We see Google has changed its search algorithm again today. Its interesting that they say the change is subtle and only affects 11.8% of their searchs. By my reckoning that a lot of search content.

The main change is around reducing popularity of sites that are not great content and contain lower quality text. I fully commend Google on this as webscraping and low quality content has certainly been on the increase in the last few years.

The change has only just been released in the US (Google.com) and they will roll it out across the world following review of the impact on US search results.

For the official release on the update visit Google Blog.

E-commerce is major contributor to UK economy

The Internet economy in the UK was worth £100 billion last year, representing 7.2% of GDP and putting the industry ahead of construction, transport and utilities.

According to a study by the Boston Consulting Group and commissioned by Google, the UK is now the world’s leading country for e-commerce and a net exporter of e-commerce goods and services, exporting £2.80 for every £1 imported.

The study surveyed over 900 SMEs (small and medium-size enterprises) and found that companies that actively use the Internet reported overall sales growth more than four times greater than that of less active companies. The number of British adults who bought goods or services online in the past year totalled 31 million, or 62% of all adults. Read the press release at BCG.com.

Google AdWords: new support forum

New Support Forum, AdWords Campaigns

For all internet marketers and e-commerce teams: a useful new link for you from Google.

Google launched a new help forum dedicated to SMEs who are managing their own AdWords campaigns.

Google has lots of other support forums to discuss how to get the best from your online presence.

We help customers do more international business by providing the language services, support and advice for developing international websites.

The STAR Team