A few months ago, Exo marketing conducted an audit for a client who sells parts for a multitude of industries. One of the problems raised to our attention by this client was that they felt that their representatives should spend as much time on the phone with a small account of a few hundred dollars as with a large account of several tens of thousands of dollars. One of the recommendations suggested to compensate for this: provide smaller accounts through a new sales channel. This channel is an e-commerce platform.
Many small businesses (TPE and SMEs) are still hesitant to make the jump to digital, fearing it is too complicated, requires too much time, etc. Nowadays, these arguments are no longer valid; all tools are made available for you to take advantage of the only economy that has not yet experienced any recession: online business.
An e-commerce site
As discussed in the article by Rémi Servant entitled “E-commerce in B2B: 3 solutions for 3 profiles”, you can rely on a few platforms that have proven their worth, such as Amazon and Magento. Magento offers you 3 options: Magento Go (simple), Magento Community (free, but requires much more resourcefulness) and Magento Enterprise (for the major leaguers).
And the online offers do not stop there! There are dozens of others: OpenCart, Zen Cart, Hybris, etc. Fortunately, many blogs have been written on this subject to help you choose the platform that suits you best.
Should you have to use Magento Go, although not so “user friendly”, it is manageable; however it’s suggested to have someone nearby that has experience with the site. There is also the French website Votresite.ca, a Quebec initiative which seems to be fairly easy to use. The website NBS System offers a benchmark of different solutions: https://www.nbs-system.co.uk/blog-2/benchmark-of-e-commerce-solutions.html. It would seem that Open Cart is perfect for starters, although more limited in terms of functionality.
Yes, but what about making shipments?
Canada Post offers powerful tools for calculating shipments and for printing labels. You can even manage merchandise returns labels.
…and being paid now?
The most simple and affordable solution to receive payment from a merchant remains Paypal. You will pay only a small transaction fee (2,9% + 0,30$ per transaction), however, it requires that your customer leaves your Web site to make the payment on PayPal’s website, which can negatively impact the client experience. The second option, more integrated to your site, is the Business version which costs an additional $35 per month.
Other payment solutions exist, such as Desjardins Bank, Pivotal Payments and even Moneris. Compare solutions and get a worksheet with a forecast of sales and annual volume transactions. These references will guide you by comparing one solution to another.
The complicated part
The real challenge of today isn’t more technology; the tools are sufficiently developed and efficient to support you in your success. The challenge is commercial: AdWords, Facebook Ads, LinkedIn ads, social media campaigns, content strategies, SEO, etc. These are necessary for people to easily find you on the Internet. To do this, it is better to have a little help from someone who has internet experience; otherwise, your efforts may all be done in vain.