Opening new lines of revenue with eCommerce
In the past, eCommerce was viewed as it's own business category. Retailers would open their online websites with the specific intent to attract and sell to Internet shoppers.
However, eCommerce technology has improved significantly over the past decade and now anyone across any industry can create a successful Web retail platform. You're beginning to see this more and more, with non-traditional brands (publishers and media organizations) opening web stores or online marketplaces to tap new revenue streams and provide greater value to their customers.ECommerce is no longer the land exclusively for merchants, anyone with an engaged audience can become a successful retailer with enough planning and foresight.
Retail software hits the catwalk
Take, for instance, Harper's BAZAAR magazine. America's first fashion magazine, the brand has traditionally been the go-to source for women looking to tap the latest trends and find out about the latest dresses, handbags, shoes, jackets and other fashion accessories. BAZAAR had become a trusted source of information to subscribers, and saw an opportunity to draw even revenue from subscribers by entering the world of eCommerce.
The expansion to retail made sense in the context of the business – the publication's editors were already recommending readers specific products and accessories, so why not sell these goods to subscribers as well? It's a win-win situation for BAZAAR – they can directly link their customers to suggested products to save them time from having to scour the web. It also results in additional revenue for the magazine.
Of course, the retail experience needed to be integrated into the publication seamlessly. If the push to get consumers to buy products was too heavy-handed, customers might begin to think BAZAAR was recommending certain products for the sole purpose of making money, and that would undermine the authority and thought leadership the fashion brand had worked to achieve.
Additionally, BAZAAR had all the typical concerns and challenges retailers face. They needed a scalable marketplace solution that could be easily integrated into the reading experience. Product listings needed to be highly configurable and flexible to allow the fashion brand to add items easily and support promotions. The store had to be easily accessed and searched as well.
For BAZAAR, the expansion into eCommerce operations was a tremendous success. The brand noticed a sizable influx in traffic, and in some months, the number of visitors viewing the website even doubled. Additionally, there has been in upswing in the interest in media sales, which means the store improved advertising offering for the website, Magento's website adds. The retail transition was a success and opened a number of new doors to different revenue streams.
Integrating eCommerce into your business MO
While BAZAAR had a tremendous amount of success integrating eCommerce into its operations, this approach won't work for every brand. It's crucial that you understand your brand and how consumers perceive it before embarking on a similar transition.
For instance, if you operated a weightlifting and bodybuilding website, you wouldn't have much success selling heavy weights on the Web because the shipping and handling costs of such heavy equipment would be astronomical. In this case, it doesn't make much sense to go through the trouble of creating a retail experience that ties back to your product unless you can think of other items that readers would buy.
That being said, there are literally hundreds of different approaches you could take, depending on your audience and your industry. Our SalesWarp eCommerce software has helped traditional retailers manage their eCommerce businesses as well as non-traditional brands create and manage their own online marketplaces. ECommerce can be a significant revenue stream if you integrate it seamlessly into your existing operations, it's ultimately a matter of doing it in a way that makes sense.