Recently, at a roundtable discussion with fellow services professionals, the topic of e-commerce came up. Most people, when they hear this term, imagine that it only refers to the use of the Internet to sell goods and services.
I believe this is a bit of an antiquated notion. In the early days of e-commerce, perhaps, an online store was merely a store moved from a brick and mortar location to a website. Outside of this change in venue, not much else changed about operations.
Today the world of e-commerce has expanded, and there is much to be gained if we expand our definition of the term from meaning merely “selling online,” to including all the ways in which we can use web-based tools to enhance our business practices and our selling methods.
By this definition, even business owners who aren’t selling products or services directly through a website (and who may even be selling from a brick and mortar location instead) can benefit from the rapid expansion of e-commerce in the past twenty years.
One of the main benefits to be had is a good Client Relationship Management (CRM) system. No matter what you’re selling, a CRM can help you organize and streamline your sales processes, all while helping you achieve yearly revenue projections.
Another important aspect of e-commerce is how we can use web-based tools to strategically strengthen marketing efforts. Gone are the days of naming your business with as many A’s as possible in order to show up first in the phone book. Business owners today need to understand the benefits of strategic search engine optimization and website design in order to draw traffic to their online presence, which will draw clients to their business.
At our roundtable discussion, we eventually realized that the term e-commerce can even refer to how we use technology to improve back office operations. These operations, although they are perhaps not directly related to sales efforts, can be improved with new technology and will strengthen your business as a whole.
Examples of this are inventory management software, improved bookkeeping services software, and linking credit cards and debit cards to these software programs in order to streamline data flow and allow business owners to have a more comprehensive grasp on all aspects of their operation.
As a business owner, it’s important to have an open mind and to stay competitive by making the most of the latest tools available to you. When you think of e-commerce, don’t just think of how you can sell on the Internet. Think also of how the Internet can help your business thrive as a whole, improving not just how you sell and where, but also how you manage your bookkeeping services, how you relate to your clients, and how you make your most important decisions.