The advantages of developing an e-commerce presence

An e-commerce storefront can help businesses grow

Savvy business owners are constantly on the lookout for ways to encourage growth, and establishing an online storefront can be an ideal way for brick-and-mortar companies to bring in new streams of revenue. However, not all business owners immediately recognize that. For online-only shops, e-commerce may be the only way to make money, particularly if they require high risk merchant accounts due to a nontraditional business model. But, for companies that already have a profitable venture, it may seem risky and even unnecessary to set up a virtual storefront.

The growing profitability of e-commerce

Above all, an online shopping portal can increase a business' bottom line. The most recent data from the U.S. Department of Commerce indicates that e-commerce sales totaled $47.5 billion on a seasonally adjusted basis during the second quarter of 2011. That was up 3 percent from the previous quarter and 17.6 percent from the same time period a year earlier. By mid-2011, online shopping accounted for 4.6 percent of all U.S. retail sales, a figure that has been steadily climbing for years. Put simply, a virtual storefront can help businesses enter this burgeoning market.

The ability to better serve niche markets

Some small business owners may fear stiff competition when migrating to an online sales platform. After all, big box corporations offer websites that see heavier traffic and enjoy immediate brand recognition.

However, companies that offer specific services or goods should recognize the value in opening up their visibility online. While a physical storefront may make a business that serves a niche market more accessible, the internet can compound that effect significantly.

Online platforms can enhance business reputation

A presence on the web may also help solidify a company's reputation as a leader in its industry. Small businesses may be able to offer what larger corporations cannot – dedicated, personal customer service and the benefit of industry expertise. Migrating those benefits to an online portal helps more people know that a particular business is worth patronizing when they need the absolute best service.