Twenty twenty-one is the year for retailers to reclaim their authority by doing business differently. The solution, as it has been for some time now, is e-commerce. The difference is that today, a much larger portion of commerce is online, and the potential for online retailers on platforms such as Shopify are boundless. Since the onset of the pandemic, retailers worldwide began migrating to the digital realm, thereby sparking a revolution in the retail industry for greater longevity and scalability.  

E-commerce doesn't have to be limited to the most tech-savvy of business owners. Thanks to the plethora of solutions and services out there for retailers of all stages, even the most novice of retailers can get on board the e-commerce train with ease. However, it is worth noting that the success of online merchants does not take place overnight, nor is it guaranteed by simply making the transition. As with most any other element in business, strategy does come into play, and there are reasons behind every rhyme. After all, completed purchases are far from being the only conversion metric worth following. One would also want to consider factors such as users adding products to their carts/wishlists, email signups, and social media shares as a form of conversion that best be optimized.

It is not too late for any retailer to get into e-commerce if they haven’t already. Max Brenner, the famed chocolate restaurant and retail brand, recently made the move to Shopify, and netted over $274,000 in its first two months. The success of other retailers that similarly managed to scale throughout 2020 can easily be replicated by retailers who are new to the arena, so long as they go by best practices at full force.

One size does not fit all in the world of e-commerce. Some companies have the benefit of being able to offer competitive pricing, while others have the benefit of being able to provide coupon codes. The usage of software to address abandoned shopping carts may be recommended for some retailers over others, and not all retailers have the manpower to offer live chat software 24/7. The following ideas can be beneficial to most retailers, especially those who are looking to delve into e-commerce for the first time, or amplify their efforts after trying to navigate through it all the hard way.

Consider Shopify, the (business) lifesaver

Thousands of mom and pop shops turned to Shopify since the pandemic shut their doors, sending the number of new Shopify-powered stores soaring 62 percent between March 13 and April 24. These outlets, along with the one million merchants already using Shopify, boosted gross merchandise volume by 46 percent to $17.4 billion in the first three months of 2020. One of the reasons behind the surge is the fact that Shopify introduced a number of tools to help small businesses during the pandemic, like making gift cards available to all sellers, as well as facilitating curbside pickups and extending $162 million in cash advances and loans.

Before Shopify if small, independent brands wanted to be online, they needed to be on Amazon. It was the reigning option. Many brands are still selling on Amazon, but now they can also build their own website and connect with customers directly through services such as the localized Shop app by Shopify, which helps drive local sales, reduce support debt, and boost conversion. Merchants that sell wholesale would benefit from a listing on the Handshake marketplace by Shopify, which allows B2B’s to sell to wholesalers, and increases visibility for businesses.

Learn from the masters themselves. For free.

While we may be living in an increasingly digital world, it is not expected for retailers to know the ins and outs of all the technical elements behind e-commerce. Thankfully, there are plenty of resources one can turn to for guidance. From blog posts, to instructional videos/demos, to webinars, online courses, and more—there are countless resources available for gaining insights on how to nail e-commerce.

Among some of the more popular resources are the free classes on e-commerce essentials that are taught on Skillshare. For those looking to dive a little deeper, Coursera offers free courses, which include video lectures and reading materials. Then there is also Rebound—a show sponsored by Shopify Plus, which offers many tips and tricks for novice online retailers. Each of these classes offer insights that are both evergreen, which factoring nuances that cater to the sensitivities of current times. Not only would you learn how to build your store (and brand) online to get business—you would also learn how to drive repeat business in terms of brand engagement, interactions, and of course revenue.

Work to your strengths and outsource your weaknesses

Just as it takes a village to raise a child, business growth also requires a great amount of collaboration. As mentioned earlier, retailers are not expected to know everything there is to know about e-commerce. From migration, to website development, to the development of custom features, branding, and more—it can all become a bit much on top of existing business concerns.

It is highly advised to leave technicalities to the professionals. Service providers can help assist in transitioning in a seamless manner, and guide through the process of ensuring that digital sales are optimized. This goes far beyond knowing the ins and outs of tools, settings, and functionalities—it also calls for tapping into tacit knowledge as it applies to the psychology of consumers and prospects.

E-commerce has gone from being business jargon, to an attractive bonus, to the key to longevity for retailers. Yet there are still far too many retailers that have yet to go online, and it is costing them dearly. Retailers need a scalable revenue stream now more than ever, and if they want to keep their dream alive and make it thrive—online is the ultimate lifeline. Now is the time for retailers to become immersed in the digital space by absorbing and implementing all they can, and trusting seasoned professionals to handle the delicate elements that can make or break business growth online.

Written By Chen Zissu, CEO and Founder of Zissu LTD