A lot of pro-eCommerce write-ups come up with the numbers supporting the heavy business-ladened words like global visibility, conversion, bounce rate, etc., but that’s not for what I am here.
The terms may sound fancy and vital, but it’s essential for us to find how different does a business look from the ground zero.
As I am a realist, I want to fetch your attention by drawing out the reality from the ground level.
Hence, I’d like to share my personal experience— an experience which compares the two sides of my professional life— my traditional business and lately launched eCommerce store.
So, here it is.
Much like any other brick and mortar owners, I wanted my existing traditional business to advance leaps and bounds, but little did I know about its limitations until I got to know about the eCommerce industry.
As my interest grew in setting up an eCommerce store, I looked at all the possibilities and finally decided to make an e-commerce investment.
Today, being a part of both the businesses, I can validate that the only thing which separates eCommerce from traditional business is the “ORGANIZED WORK.”
How eCommerce changed the work ethics and behavior
Everything has terms & conditions: While I carry the traditional business— the entire process runs on trust. The goods are supplied on credits depending on the goodwill of the client. As there’s a saying— blockchain is a trustless network (where no one has to trust anyone); I believe that eCommerce is also trustless platform— where I don’t necessarily have to put my trust on the customers. With strict terms and conditions mentioned about the purchase, payments, privacy, etc., eCommerce already rules out my fear that my payment will die midway.
Sell facts rather than relation: With my regular business— which is mainly unorganized, I’d promote relation over the factual attributes of the product. Since the goods get sold on credits, I somehow make sure that my relationship ties with the customer stay strong. Moreover, to lure more customers, I try to build a relationship regardless of the factual weirdness in my products. But having eCommerce as a partner, I don’t have to create links to recover my payments. In addition to that, even if I develop a strong relationship with my customers, I can’t sell a bad product twice. It checks me to evaluate and improve the product on a regular basis. Hence, I sell facts more than the relationship.
Change in the background operations: Again, managing relationships with the customers in traditional business is much easier than the eCommerce business. The usual business gives me the margin of making grave mistakes because I know I can turn the table the very next moment by contacting my parties. Adding to it, I can reach them and throw relationship placards for retaining them. But eCommerce business gives a minimal margin of error. Even the slightest of mistakes could lead to ungratified customers who may abandon the store never to return back. As customers might never get to see the strenuous operations behind the eCommerce business, I could practically never make them understand what is all happening in the background. So, it is like now or never. It is the reason which entices me to manufacture a robust back-end process which doesn’t turn away the customer. It compels me to furnish an institution which is willing to change for customer’s good. And trust me, it is the beginning of an organized company.
Behavioral change in the employees: There’s a limited footfall in my traditional business. No matter the number of incentive baits I offer to my sales manager, it can’t go beyond the parapet of particular value. End of the day— my product may satisfy or not satisfy the customers; it surely contents the sales team. The fire to achieve the next goal ultimately tones down. But that’s not the case with my eCommerce sales team as the sky is not the limit for them. With unconstrained desires to up the sales ante, their behavior is much different than the former ones. As they have an entire globe to target, they keep asking for more. And what does their hunger give me? Of course, the supreme turnover and global reach.
Stronger return policy: Traditional businesses have hauled in particular notoriety in goods return. No store owner likes to get goods returned. As the customers know my work address, and as they get supplies on credit, they return the goods at their own terms and policies which aggravate the situation to another level. Two months, four months, or even half a year can’t stop them from returning the goods if they necessarily have to. But having an eCommerce by my side empowers me with the different power altogether. With the stronger return policy of one month and a lucid state of mind and heart (where I know that the product might get returned but within the particular time frame) give my breath a sigh of relief and help me not to darken my face in anger.
Organized reporting: One of the worst parts of having a traditional business is that they lack technology as compared to the eCommerce store. There’s no analytics to read the customer’s behavior, their buying pattern, etc. Let’s just keep that aside. That’s too much to ask for if I can’t even track the performance of the employees. eCommerce propels me to install tools to have a bird’s eye view on everything— from purchase to sales funnel. As everything gets traced bit by bit, ounce by ounce; I automatically have more data to cater some of the best services to my customers.
Goodbye Silo Mentality: It’s man's nature to breed ego and jealousy. Sadly, it has seeped into the businesses. In my customary business (which obviously lags in technology), the bunch of like-minded people form their own groups and give birth to the silo mentality— a mentality which hampers the interaction in the business cycle. They don’t share vital information across the channel, and the crucial information gets killed in the medium. But with the eCommerce accouchement, I personally can’t manage the whole team without the much-needed tools like collaboration platforms. As eCommerce pushes me to mount these essential tools, there’s a better communication medium between my employees and myself, and between themselves.
Regular payments: Let me recite you an interesting but hypothetical situation. A customer orders a bulk supply on the 1st day of January 2019. With grace days of credit payment being 30 days, he is liable to clear off the invoice by 1st February 2019. Suppose he fails to sell a single unit of supply in the entire January month. It is supposedly going to be really difficult for him to make me the payment. Cometh 29th January, he orders the same unit of supplies once again. As I make sure that the second set of delivery reaches him the next day, he ensures that the first set of delivery gets returned to me without prior notice to me. In this way, he gets the second set of delivery with new invoice date, i.e., 29th January, and another 30 grace days, and I receive back the first set of goods supplied due to weak return and payments policy. The situation could never take place in an organized eCommerce store as it completely eliminates the credit supply even if it comes to the bulk selling. And as mentioned, the strict return and payment policies basically structurize my business and regularize the account replenishment.
Clean on interest collection: As I mentioned that everything runs on trust and strengthening the relationship in conventional business, the interest earned on the principal amount is not earned until the customers feel like paying it out. For a representation case, I charge 1.5% per month of interest on the principal amount if the average payment days go beyond net 30 D. But having said that, there’s no written proof for the interest payment because furnishing a written statement might “offend” my “limited customers” and may well impact the business relationship. Again, eCommerce is way too different when it comes to the interest collection. For retail-based customers, I really don’t have to worry about the payment as it is simultaneously done against the purchase; however, in the bulk supplies, even if I plan to give credit, I barely have to “act good” to not “offend” them. My website clearly states about all the interest related terms and conditions, and in any case of discrepancy, I have solid evidence to sue them. Now you may ask that it again affects “the relationship” with the concerned person. The answer is yes— it does. But as eCommerce hands me the opportunity to connect millions on the globe, why would I care for a specific customer who failed to abide by the terms?
There’s no concept of cream customers: For partnering with the new customers in the traditional businesses of credits, certain criterions need to be fulfilled. I personally make new clients by scrutinizing the payment reports of the parties. Yes, I don’t have access to their bank statements, but having strong reference and network help me to bifurcate cream customers from the non-creamy ones. But that has one repercussion— it limits my sale. Making friends with eCommerce alleviate the need for creamy-customers. As the whole world is a potential customer, well-fortified policies eradicate the need for filtering the creamy-customers. With most of the payments done online or cash on delivery, and with powerfully proposed actions against the bulk purchasers, my pay is safe. On top of that, I have the added benefit of continuous customer growth without having to label them creamy.
Complying customers: Usually, in my traditional business, words of mouth has the ultimate value, which of course, doesn’t have the written proof. As a result, even If I want my customers to comply with the rules of the company, I can’t really coerce them to abide by it. But with the eCommerce, my customers come up with a much more informed mindset about the rules and terms of the company, and they got to abide by the law. The best part about the eCommerce is that they have to comply with the law even if they don’t want to. By choosing to land on your website, also if they don’t read the instructions correctly, they actually agree to the terms and conditions of the company. They are aware of the fact that any failure in complying with the law could land them in trouble.
I am the scriptwriter: With general business, customers are mostly dominating. With the ample supply in the market and goods on credit, they have the ball in their courts for most of the time. They govern the business terms and mold them as per their convenience. But they don’t have the “access” to this “outrageous privilege” in the eCommerce business because I am the ultimate writer of the business. I decide its script, and I decide how it should look. I am not pliable as I have the power to withstand their psychological pressure. Basically, eCommerce snatches the fear of losing the customers because it has so much to offer. With a customer gone, it opens a hundred new ways from a hundred new area to manage fresh clients.
As I can divide both the businesses into two different forks, I can easily say that conversion, annual turnover, bounce rates, KPIs, etc. come much later than the primary day to day real issues faced by the traditional business owners.
To have a say on how eCommerce supersedes the traditional business, one must first learn to differentiate between the microscopic management of the two. As eCommerce brings tremendous changes at the microscopic level, I can’t find any proper reason to not stick to it.
The organized business gives a much better sense of pride and sleep at the same time. eCommerce surely grants both.
Also, with the eCommerce business clearly outnumbering the traditional businesses and its behavior in all the fronts, all I can is— why shouldn’t I make an e-commerce investment?
To have an organized business, if it takes to invest in the eCommerce industry, we’d do it hundred on hundred times.