You see it in the blogs, on the news, and in the papers: everyone agrees that Canadian businesses should be online.
Yet still only 41%-45.5% of Canadian small businesses have an online presence. This number isn’t powerful enough on it’s own, though: 76% of Canadians shop online frequently, and online sales are expected to grow by 12.3% year over year.
The fact of the matter is that Canadian businesses – and Canada’s economy – can benefit hugely from a greater online presence to the tune of;
$443 Billion USD.
That’s how much online shopping is predicted to grow over the next three years in the four biggest ecommerce markets: the UK, the US, China, and Germany. Notice anything missing?: Canada.
I could throw statistics at you all day, but it all boils down to this simple fact: Canadians are online and spending lots of money, but they’re not spending it with Canadian companies. Canadian businesses aren’t present where Canadian money is being spent. Why not?
(But if you do want more statistics, check out this infographic on 10 Facts About Canadian Ecommerce.)
A while back, VL attended the DTLQC 2015 conference in Montreal. One of the main points discussed at this conference was that a greater online presence is litterally worth billions to Quebec’s economy. Coupled with the declining Canadian Dollar and Canada’s economic dependence on oil and natural resources, keeping a greater portion of Canadian ecommerce dollars at home is definitely advantageous to our economy, and to your business.
Here’s what you can do to start your journey into online success, and the steps along the way you should take based on VL’s years of experience and best practices:
1. Get online
The first step is to get online. But getting online is more than just buying yourself a website domain and making the customer-facing side of things pretty: you also need to think long and hard on how your business will actually work on the back end, and what online ecommerce platform will help you reach your goals.
Did you know that the ecommerce platform you choose now could have serious implications for your scalability later?
VL has seen this multiple times: a business has hit that ‘hockey stick’ curve in growth (see the witty graphic below for reference), and is now panicking because the systems that they hodge-podged together when they were small are now coming apart at the seams.
Some ecommerce platforms are built to handle scalability and the complex integrations between your other applications. This is required for high traffic and high volume. When you think about it, it makes perfect sense: do you think that Amazon, ASOS, or Walmart use plug-and-play integrations and a off-the shelf ecommerce platforms? Probably not…
As your company grows, it also starts to outgrow your technology stack and plug-and-play integrations. Make sure you plan for your (successful!) future by examining your ecommerce platform on it’s functionality today, tomorrow, and 3 years down the road. Use critical judgment before you jump on board!
Keep tuned to VL’s blog in the new year as we will be reviewing different ecommerce platforms and marketplaces for integratability, requirements, scalability, best practices and more!
2. Examine your technology stack
Just like your ecommerce platform, you should be carefully selecting the best technology to support the back-end functionality of your business.
Your technology stack greatly affects your customer experience. You can watch a video of a presentation on this subject here, and you can download a presentation on it here.
So even if you’ve duck taped your different applications together on the back-end of your business so that they work, chances are your customer base will still notice something’s off. It doesn’t take a trained integration expert like VL for a customer to know when something’s off in their ecommerce order, like when an order is unexpectedly canceled, or when shipping errors persist. (In fact, we wrote an ebook on it – check it out for free here.)
Plug and play integrations are perfectly fine if you’re a small company or just starting off. But make sure you have a road map in place for how things can and will change if you start to grow – especially when you hit that ‘hockey stick’ curve. Plan, plan, plan for the future!
3. Make your marketing automation part of your integration strategy
VL has some customers that are living the business dream: an (almost) fully automated business. (You can read about one of them in this Financial Post article.)
How do they do it? A big part of their formula is full integrated marketing automation.
A well-oiled business machine is a well-integrated business machine.
To translate that into plain English: the nature of their business allows for the prediction of when their customers’ next purchase will be. They’ve tied their technology stack (including their ecommerce platform) into their marketing automation software, which allows them to automatically personalize and send email reminder notifications that they’re (likely) running low on product, and they should consider restocking now.
And it works like a charm!
This level of sophistication only came with intensive planning and a strategy for their whole technology stack including their marketing automation. It was fulfilled by bringing the right technology and right partners into the mix to make it work.
4. Your next steps
If you’ve never scaled a business or planned for scalability for your business, it can be tricky to make the right decisions. If you have a trusted friend, colleague, or business partner, that’s a good place to start, but relying on a single opinion can lead to misinformed decisions. Here are some tips:
- Do your research. Nothing replaces good old sweat and hard work. Hit the books (or internet) and find all the information you can! Take on the responsibility of being well-informed. A great place to start is VL’s Resources Section.
- Talk to other companies who have experience in scaling. Talking to the successful businesses out there is a great place to start. Talk to as many of them as you can! In lieu of talking to companies, read some of your short-listed technology suppliers’ testimonials. (Pro tip: Google your technology/platform name with ‘reviews’ beside it.)
- Check out this infographic on how to choose a good (integration) partner. Even though this infographic is tailored to integration, it doesn’t take much to expand the flow to other industries.
- Book a conversation with VL. Don’t worry – it won’t be a sales pitch. VL is a wealth of knowledge when it comes to which applications are best for scalability, and we can advise you accordingly. We’re about building relationships and helping companies grow! So if you have questions, why not ask an expert like VL directly?
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