eCommerce is short for “electronic commerce,” which is the buying and selling of goods (or services) on the internet. So, put simply, eCommerce = growth.
According to eCommerce expert Gary Hoover, his research shows that just in the last 14 years, the growth of ecommerce companies has skyrocketed across the board. And it doesn’t stop there; growth projections estimate that by 2022, ecommerce revenues will exceed $638 billion in the U.S. alone.
Now, you may be thinking, “I am an Audiologist and eCommerce doesn’t apply to me.” Well, you are wrong.
How to Start
Shopping online used to be a convenience and a luxury, now – it’s a necessity.
Even before you set-up your ecommerce store, you need to make sure you protect yourself legally and get your finances in order because proper marketing to sell products is crucial; that is how you start building your store.
Building an ecommerce business takes more than just selling products online. Even the best business ideas can flop if you aren’t driving enough traffic to your site. So, first you will need to:
1. Do your research
Growing any online business is an investment. As an Audiologist, you have your eCommerce niche already laid out. You will likely be selling things like ear wax cleaning kits, dry store kits and hearing aid maintenance tools, just to name a few, but before you decide on what to sell online, you need to understand the different business models available. If you want to turn a profit without touching your product or investing heavily at the start, drop shipping is a smart choice (when you utilize drop shipping, you don’t need to carry any product in-house; it goes directly from the supplier to the customer).
2. Determine your buyer persona
Who are you selling to? What does the store represent? Who are your ideal customers? You need to project a consistent brand image from start to finish.
3. Finalize your business plan
So, you have your target market, your product niche and your brand name. Now you need to put your business plan on paper and determine your startup budget and monthly expenses. The business planning phase is also when you want to iron out details like:
Responsibilities – Is your staff responsible for different eCommerce responsibilities? And if yes, who does what?
Product sourcing – What products do you want to sell? Where are your products coming from?
Logistics – How will these products get fulfilled? Do you have a partner you’d like to work with to get orders filled? How will they be shipped? What is the sales tax? Will you sell to anyone who discovers your eCommerce store or just to patients?
Marketing budget – You will need to get the word out about your online store, so how will you notify current and potential patients? How will you push products?
If you build it there’s no guarantee they’ll come. You need to market your store. Some additional questions to consider include:
- Will you use sponsored content, social media, pay-per-click ads, or a combination of strategies?
- How will you monitor what campaigns are driving traffic to your store?
- If marketing your site seems overwhelming, will you hire help?
Marketing can be overwhelming because there are a lot of things to figure out. We get it; your mission is to sell products, not worry about driving traffic. But if you want to sell more and expand your reach, online marketing is incredibly necessary to meet that goal.
4. Create your online store
Once you’ve figured out the legalities for your ecommerce business and started thinking about design, you need to decide if you want to add your store to your current website or get a new site with another domain name (and any redirect URLs that might be relevant).
Remember, you will you’re your brand to carry throughout your ecommerce store, so choosing the right ecommerce software is not easy. There are literally hundreds of ecommerce shopping cart platforms. You need to carefully evaluate things like loading speed, features, compatibility with different payment gateways, compatibility with your business structure, your web developer skills, SEO-friendly features, and more. You may consider looking through some templated themes for an online store, which can work, but it may be wise to hire a developer to make sure there are no issues in the buyer journey (browsing, cart addition, check-out, purchase and tracking).
eCommerce and Audiology
The first step to building an ecommerce business is knowing what products you want to sell to your patients. This often is the most challenging part of starting a new online business because you may be questioning things like, what are the products you can sell and how you will get inventory. There are also more finite details like sales tax and return policies that can get more complicated.
But it can be done.
As consumer demand for online purchasing surges, audiology professionals should capitalize. Instead of having patients drop into order supplies, why not have them order them through your website? eCommerce can provide several benefits:
- Increased revenue
By allowing patients to purchase through your website, you open your business to new revenue opportunities. This can serve as primary, or passive, income depending on how you want to approach it.
With OTCs on the horizon, it’s also a great opportunity for your business to profit from these new products.
- Reduction of in-office visitors
Reduced “drop-ins” and non-revenue-generating activities are more important than ever, especially with sanitation requirements. E-commerce lets patients order safely from home, keeping your office time dedicated to new patients.
- Improved search rankings
eCommerce offers SEO (Search Engine Optimization) benefits that can boost your website’s rankings in search engines. The more active you are, the more likely your products will appear in patient searches.
- Better patient service
By providing home delivery supply options, you serve your patients better, keeping them loyal and engaged with your business.
eCommerce can be complicated, but with the right solution you can engage more customers than before.
Your clinic can sell products to anyone, anywhere, any time with .Shop. With full mobile compatibility, buyers can access your store on-the-go or from the comforts of their own home. You can use a single dashboard to view and manage inventory, orders and reports anywhere you go. Add or edit products and keep your store up to date. You can offer an unlimited number of products and customize your offerings. .Shop can scale with your business no matter how many products you want to sell.