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Despite the success and continued growth of e-commerce, there are still plenty of retailers who have yet to take the plunge and sell their products or services online.  

This includes well known high street companies like Clarks and H&M, as well as plenty of smaller retailers.

E-consultancy has put together a Beginner's Guide to E-commerce (free to download once you create a user account) that can to be used as a starting point for retailers who want to learn more. There are some very good reasons to sell online...

Increased sales

UK online retail sales are rising as customers take advantage of the ease and inconvenience of shopping online. Launching an e-commerce site gives you access to these shoppers, and should help increase your overall sales volumes.

Increased exposure

People use search engines to find goods and services, whether they eventually make a purchase online or offline. Having an e-commerce site means that your product is more likely to appear on people’s Google searches.

Breaking free from geographic restrictions

Having just one or two retail outlets can limit your reach and the amount of customers you can sell to. A move into e-commerce will remove these restrictions and allow you to sell to anyonr in the country, or even worldwide.

Reduce customer queries

Another benefit of a website is that customers will be able to find answers to common questions online, saving the time and costs associated with dealing with these queries in person/on the phone.

E-commerce is affordable

Thanks to application service providers (ASP's), small businesses can sell their products online with very little outlay – under £100 a month in some cases. There is also the option of setting up a seller account on eBay.

E-commerce levels the playing field

Small businesses often fear they don't have the resources to compete with the big boys, and this is true offline, when businesses have to pay for premises etc. Online, you can compete with the big names at very little extra cost.

E-commerce allows you to operate around the clock

By selling online, your business is open for custom 24/7 – this means that you can appeal to those consumers who are normally at work during your opening hours.

Research suggests that 38% of online shopping takes place outside normal shop hours, peaking between 7pm and 9pm. 

E-commerce continues to grow

Online retail is still growing, and shows no signs of stopping, so you still have a chance to take advantage of this trend.

Niche products/services can thrive online

While your product may have limited appeal in your local area, by selling online you can find consumers that are looking for what you have to offer. This is the ‘long tail’.

Related research: 
E-commerce: A Beginner's Guide
Online Shopping and Credit Crunch Survey Report

Related articles:
10 retailers that don't sell online 

Graham Charlton

Published 21 August, 2008 by Graham Charlton

Graham Charlton is the former Editor-in-Chief at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter or connect via Linkedin or Google+

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