What’s your advice for small and medium-sized retailers starting to sell online now – is this a good time to be moving into this area, and why?
If retailers have not yet made the move to sell online, 2011 is definitely the time to act. Growth in online sales remains strong as more and more shoppers turn to internet retail. Most large companies made the move to multi-channel sales during the last two or three years and many small to medium companies are now following suit. Online sales often carry a lower cost structure which can benefit the overall bottom line and retailers of any size can reach customers all over Europe, helping to increase sales and drive growth.
What are the most important dos and don’ts in ecommerce today?
The number one rule is to always think of the customer first in every decision you make. Start with the customer and work backwards. Build your site so it is attractive and easy to navigate whilst offering quality product for a competitive price. Online customers know that they have a good deal of choice and will be looking for value for money. Keep innovating and looking for new, and if possible, unique products to offer your customers.
Deliver what you offer, advertise a delivery timeframe you know you can stick to and offer a free shipping option if possible. Keep the customer updated with any changes to their order, answer queries promptly and encourage customer feedback.
Don’t be afraid to get assistance. Think of partnering with a well established company, such as Amazon, who can quickly assist you to become familiar with selling on the internet.
How can Amazon help them achieve this through a number of channels, especially given that the Amazon product is very much a pureplay one?
Amazon Services Europe is already helping thousands of merchants to sell online. Amazon offers a suite of services which allows merchants to extend their reach to millions of customers across Europe and worldwide, whilst minimising fixed cost investments.
Through Amazon’s EU Marketplace platform, retailers can sell their products in over 30 categories to customers on Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.de, Amazon.fr. When a customer purchases from an Amazon third party merchant, Amazon handles payment processing and fraud management, and merchants can choose to either fulfil orders themselves or use Fulfilment by Amazon (FBA), where Amazon takes care of order picking, packing, delivery, customer service and returns handling. Furthermore, FBA merchants selling on Amazon’s European platforms can extend their reach to millions of potential new customers in 26 EU member states.
For FBA items delivered in the UK, customers benefit from the same shipping options as Amazon customers, including Free Super Saver Delivery and Amazon Prime, and can combine their Amazon and FBA items in a single cost-saving order. Many FBA merchants tell us they are enjoying the benefits of increased sales, reduced costs, the ability to scale at peak periods and time savings, allowing them to focus on their core competencies such as sourcing new products and building their business. Through its multi-channel fulfilment option, Fulfilment by Amazon can even take care of customer orders originating from a merchant’s own website, 3rd party sites or in-store sales.
As well as Selling on Amazon and FBA, Amazon also offers ecommerce solutions in the UK through its Amazon WebStore product. WebStore allows businesses to create custom, branded eCommerce websites with the benefit of Amazon’s expertise, performance and security.
Amazon Services offers merchants the choice and flexibility to select the multi-channel option most suited to their current and future business needs.
How do you see the ecommerce/multichannel market developing in the future from an SME perspective?
Companies intent on maximising their turnover and profit will become even more skilled at managing multi-channel sales and in extending their reach via ecommerce throughout Europe and even further afield into the USA, Asia and South America. Ecommerce will allow them to grow from serving the local market to thinking and selling globally, something which would have been unthinkable even five years ago. Amazon Services Europe is perfectly positioned to help such businesses take this often challenging step without additional risk and with minimal investment.