An incredible 94% of people say that poor design is the primary reason why they don’t trust a website—and yet there are thousands of small business owners whose sites are almost an afterthought. eMarketer estimates that there will be 1.2 billion online shoppers worldwide next year—that’s one in seven people. But even with this vast pool of potential customers, some small business owners remain resistant to e-commerce solutions. While incorporating e-commerce software like a booking system does take some work, it’s overwhelmingly worth it in the long run. Are you hiding behind any of the following excuses? If so, make no mistake: these misconceptions are costing you money. We’re going to debunk a few of the common misconceptions about e-commerce which plague small business owners.
Misconception #1: It’s too much work to set up and manage
Small business owners who have had only limited interaction with online sales—like using contact forms and taking sales inquiries via email—may worry that more online involvement will invite more headaches. But the Frankenstein-style online/in-store hybrid approach simply can’t compare to a well-designed and integrated e-commerce platform. An online system should make your life easier, not harder, so do some comparison shopping and try out a few different solutions before choosing one. Once you’ve found the right match, be smart about how you make the switch. You’ll have a nightmare of a time if you try to upload your entire business onto a new system and train employees (and yourself!) during your busiest season. Take advantage of slower months, where things won’t be as hectic and you’ll have plenty of time to get to know your new system.
Misconception #2: I can’t afford the software
There are many different options for online stores, booking systems, and appointment platforms, and they come in all sorts of sizes—and prices. They run from as little as $8 a month into hundreds of dollars or more. Business owners shy away from the cost because they’re unsure whether the solution will work, and they don’t want that money going to waste. There are free options, but most e-commerce solutions will cost you money—and you shouldn’t shy away from it.
For e-commerce systems, you often get what you pay for. You want a professional, well-designed, secure and maintained system that both you and your customers can trust; that is worth a modest investment. Many of the software-as-a-service options offer free trials so you can see if they’re the right solution for you, and the subscription pay models are increasingly easy to cancel at any time. The expensive options aren’t what you need; there are lots of e-commerce systems that are scalable, so they grow with you and you never pay for more than what you need. Plus, the increased revenue from online sales will significantly help your budget! Speaking of which…
Misconception #3: I don’t need online sales/people won’t buy online
This is the biggest misconception of all, and one of the most common ways that business owners lie to themselves to avoid getting involved in e-commerce. When all you know is your physical storefront, it can be difficult to imagine just how much an online purchasing option will improve your revenue. When you’re used to having to woo customers into walking into your store or calling you for an appointment, it’s tough to imagine that brand new customers will purchase just because you have a website. If you don’t shop online yourself, you may not realize just how popular it is.
You can’t deny the facts: e-commerce is a major part of the economy, and it’s only going to get larger. Customers overwhelmingly prefer to have as few steps as possible between the decision to buy and the actual purchase; by limiting them to calling or physically coming in, you’re discouraging lots of customers who would have booked or purchased online. E-commerce helps you grow your customer base by providing the chance to purchase at any time of day. Online shopping is only going to get more popular; even if you don’t need the sales now, you will definitely need them in the future.
Now is the time to find your e-commerce solution, and open up a brand new world of revenue, customers, and possibilities.
If your business revolves around taking bookings – whether that be tours, activities, or accommodations, make use of your slower seasons to choose a booking system that works for you. Jumping in to e-commerce is a big decision, but if made right it can totally transform your business.