I read a statistic the other day that surprised me. Fifty percent of small to medium businesses (SMBs) in the US don’t have a website. That’s shocking. And yet, what that statistic misses, is the huge number of SMBs that have minimalist, poorly functioning websites. SMBs need to a catch up. Consumers are adopting e-commerce because they like it. They especially appreciate the convenience and the ability to comparison shop. A website is no longer just an electronic brochure, it is the storefront for your business.
I visit a lot of websites that are really not much more than online brochures. Trying to find out what products the business has in stock is not possible, because their website isn’t integrated with their inventory system. On many of them, they don’t even have a proper product catalog, choosing instead to simply list the brands they carry.
I know that many business owners see their website as an annoyance — something they have to do, but secondary to their storefront. They want the customer to come down to the store for the face-to-face selling opportunity.
They need to rethink this. E-commerce sites, such as Amazon, and search engines, such as Google, are changing the way people shop and get information. For a growing number of people, gone are the days when they will walk into their local shop seeking out the expertise and knowledge of the shop owner. Instead they do their research online and, once they’ve identified what they want, the product transaction is only one-click away. If you’re not able to tell them exactly what you have for sale, at what price and allow them to purchase it online, you aren’t even in the game.
At this point, I can hear a chorus of grumbles about the cost and trouble of setting up a website with these kinds of capabilities. We’re not IT experts! It is so time-consuming! I hear you. That’s why we developed Systum. For this to work for small and medium businesses, it has to get a lot simpler.
Forget, for a second, about the website. In fact, with Systum, that mostly takes care of itself. Think more about your inventory. You are already keeping some kind of record of what you’ve ordered and what you’ve sold and at what price. You’re probably not still doing it on paper ledgers. You’re probably using a spreadsheet or some kind of small database application.
With Systum, you can start here. Export your current inventory data and import it into Systum. Looks pretty much the same as what you’ve been using — except — now you can publish this information as an e-commerce web site. Just like that. You might want to add photos of the products and a bit of extra information. But you don’t have to. And Systum can link with most financial transaction systems to make it very simple for online customers to purchase from your web site directly.
Even better news, it also integrates with point-of-sale hardware, so that it is the very same software that is being used in your shop(s) and on your website. With both the website and store using the same purchasing system, it’s easy to keep your inventory up to date. Systum automatically updates every time an order or purchase is made.
Many retail SMBs probably have some kind of point-of-sale software that is linked into their inventory software. But very few of those applications also generate an e-commerce website as well. Systum also integrates your customer records and keeps track of your marketing campaigns and generates automatic reports on everything from the speed of your inventory turns to what products are trending the fastest in the last nine days. Too much to go into here.
The key point is that SMBs need to play catch up on the e-commerce front. For many potential customers — and the number is growing everyday — your website is now your storefront. Make sure you are in the game. And with Systum, getting in the game is not a lot more expensive or time-consuming than what you already do today.