E-Commerce is the practice of selling online and the corresponding delivery of goods or services to your customers. As more consumers and businesses turn to the internet to purchase products or services, e-commerce has become a necessity for businesses of all sizes.
E-Commerce can be incorporated into a business model through a variety of avenues. It’s important to note, however, that businesses should couple e-commerce with a robust marketing strategy that drives potential buyers to their website/marketplace and facilitates sales.
Before engaging in e-commerce, consider the following:
How will you ship your products? Is special handling required?
At what scale can you handle orders? Do you have enough inventory, customer support staff, and other crucial components to your business?
If you're selling a service, how will customers receive it? Will they have to physically be at your storefront or can you offer services over Zoom or Skype?
Empire State Digital is a partnership between New York State, the NYSBDC network, and select e-commerce platforms that provides additional tools to businesses engaging in e-commerce and, through meetings with our certified business advisors and online webinars, gives businesses specialized set-up and maintenance guidance when they choose to use one of the following e-commerce platforms:
With Square you can easily create an online store or ordering page and immediately begin selling your products or services online. Square is offering NYS businesses:
A Free Website with Square Online
Free Processing of Up To $1,000 in Credit Card Transactions for the First 180 Days After Sign-up
Etsy is a marketplace that connects creative entrepreneurs with tens of millions of buyers around the world. Through Empire State Digital, Etsy is offering:
Free Listing Credits for New Users
Educational Content on Starting A Successful Online Business
Shopify is an all-in-one platform with everything entrepreneurs need to launch and grow their business online & with physical point of sale terminals. With Empire State Digital, new users get:
90 days free if you register before Nov. 30th
Free Tap & Chip Reader for new POS retailers
$500 in Shopify app store credits for new users
We recommend using one of the platforms participating in Empire State Digital, but they are far from the only ways of engaging in e-commerce. Below we've detailed three additional ways your business could create a successful e-commerce website.
Hosting Your Own Website: Incorporating an online store into your website allows customers to seamlessly transition from browsing your offerings to making a purchase. Whichever content management system your website uses, adding an e-commerce extension directly to your site is often relatively simple. The cost of extensions vary, but generally companies charge a monthly fee or take a portion of sales. If you already have a website, see what extensions are recommended by your content management system or website host. Some of the most popular extensions are:
SquareSpace is a simple web hosting service with e-commerce options.
Wix is a drag & drop web hosting and e-commerce platform.
E-Commerce Marketplaces: An e-commerce marketplace is a compilation of stores selling products/services of all kinds. Using this approach can increase your businesses’ visibility and allow you to access the marketplace’s existing customer pool. A key difference between this approach and hosting your own website is most marketplaces take a larger percentage of sales or charge higher monthly fees because of their existing customer base. Some of the most popular e-commerce marketplaces are:
Specialized E-Commerce Marketplaces: Specialized marketplaces cater to specific products and types of businesses. A few are listed below, but researching your own products may reveal one that fits your business. Some of the most popular specialized marketplaces are:
Contact one of our business advisors who are familiar with e-commerce and can guide you through the process of setting up and maintaining a successful e-commerce store no matter what platform or software your business is using.