Alejandro Betancourt eCommerce2 


In this time, when digital is already part of our daily lives; business, trading and entrepreneurship are rapidly becoming more linked to the virtual world. The amount of companies developing online stores, with ordering systems through internet or mobile applications which help you buy or sell comfortably and safely; make way for new languages, strategies and business techniques on which we must be updated – since they are more popular each day- and whose widespread growth is only beginning.

That is why I would like to share a series of articles with different contributions to the topic of electronic commerce or e-commerce, with ideas, information and case study reviews or successful experiences for entrepreneurs, who have on Internet and social networks the appropriate platform to begin their businesses.
Let us start with the basic: e-commerce is a process where two or more parts (business owners and/or consumers) make business transactions which can be distribution, selling, buying, marketing or providing information about products and services, through a computer and internet access.

In the beginning it was only used for transactions such as electronic data interchange, but in the mid-90s the concept of selling services through the net began to develop by using electronic means like credit cards as ways of payment. This fact created the idea of electronic commerce, making companies build up electronic commerce divisions or virtual sales.

From the entrepreneurship point of view, this tool generates great opportunities because there are neither barriers nor borders for e-commerce, but in a world where almost everybody has smartphones which are product displays for businesses; without creativity or a worthy, different and genuine proposal, expected results will not be seen.

All over the world there are figures which show the big potential of doing businesses having internet as their platform. The website Live Stats averages that 40% of the world population has an internet connection, and examples like Amazon, which through e- commerce has become the biggest online bookstore in the world, the same with Dell Computers, all of them say that e- commerce is real. Amazon reported revenues of more than 74 billion dollars for 2013; and for 2014, Dell reached revenues of more than 57 billion dollars.

Keeping distances between a humble entrepreneurship with little time and one of these big companies, what is it all about? With a website or social networks strategically managed you can have a virtual store open 365 days a year, 24 hours a day in all telephones and computers connected to internet, giving the chance of generating customers even from the other part of the world.  


First Steps
Even if you think that having a smartphone is enough to be effective to sell your products or ideas, the topic is not that easy as it seems because these products or services you want to promote online have to be determined, to redefine sales processes, distribution, invoicing, marketing and customer service. That is why you should be careful and develop a well thought and proved strategy in order not to waste time or resources.
Here is a list of points you cannot miss if you want to begin e-commerce:


  • Products to sell: First you must remember that not all products are likely to be sold online, besides you must analyze if you have the place and personnel required to keep products or merchandise in good conditions. Likewise, the demographic aspect has to be taken into account, since e-commerce is closed to technology and constant updates; it is not advisable for products to people, for example, older than 60, overall because at this moment the age range of people online is between 20 and 40.
  • Partners or specialized providers: You need to work with a supportive company related to details from the website design to installation and software handling required to make online transactions. Make sure the hosting provider (the one which posts your page in a server), guarantees safe transactions so your customers’ confidential information remains confidential and encrypted during and after transactions. These kinds of providers are in charge of registering your domain name as well, and will be your advisors when setting up your virtual store.
  • Web design: Importance of a well-designed web page lies in being different from the other existing millions of pages which will be your competition. It must have attractive spaces for special offers and promotions; and a comfortable, kind and nice way of navigating. It is worth having links to other sites of interest, and always leaving spaces for customers to express themselves through suggestions or commentaries.
  • Assured production: You should develop a portfolio with services or product images you offer, but make sure articles are available in inventories. It is advisable to offer what you already have and not to disappoint the customer promoting products you would not have.
  • Logistics: Make alliances with courier, tracking and delivering companies. Check if these companies have worldwide coverage, and in case of any inconvenient, packages can be traced electronically.
  • Invoicing: Although there are different methods, as writing checks before buying or paying by credit cards, the most recommendable way now is to work with bank transactions since they have no limits related to geographical distances and can be monitored in real time.
  • Customer Relationship Management: A good website will help you have detailed updated information about your regular and potential customers, and according to their preferences and suggestions, offer them service during and after the purchase. I suggest that you follow e-mails, messages in social networks or enquiry calls generated by your website. Do your best for your customers to register basic personal information, or more information about their hobbies, lifestyle, professions, likes, etc., in return of personalized bulletins, promotions of articles, discounts and memberships.

These pieces of advice will help you draft your e-commerce business plan. In future articles I will go deeper in topics such as promotion, growth and advantages of online businesses.



Spanish version: Una mirada al e-commerce

Alejandro Betancourt