eCommerce Platforms, On-line Shops, Web store, Cloud Trading

Call it what you will, the on-line sales process kicked-off barely 20 years ago, and I opened my first store in 1999, and swapped into osCommerce in 2000 / 2001 and stuck with it until last year.

I have worked with a large number of eCommerce solutions and other open source platforms over the years for myself and clients.

With a lot of other pressures I stopped searching and became complacent with my store leaving it run for too many years without an update. I worked with clients modifying platforms to suit their needs but in following the osCommerce method of hard-coding so much of the system any chance of a simple upgrade path was killed in a forked path that ultimately leads to a dead-end.

So, what to do next?  The open source store market is flourishing with more offerings than you can ‘poke-a-stick-at’.

There are pure open-source solutions, open-source commercial products, 2-tier open / commercial offerings, pure commercial tools, as well as a lot of noise from service providers.

Bricks and mortar stores have been changing, large shopping malls are being up-sized, or stagnating, with empty floor space. What-ever cannot be sold by mail-order is still viable in-store, but there are only so many coffee-shops, hair-dressers, nail salons, etc. that can survive in a centre, but I digress.

So for the mail-order products, i.e. anything that can be posted, parceled, or containerised, is eligible for an ecommerce site. Is anyone not selling on-line ?  While it may seem that everything is on-line it is simply not the case.

Some studies show that consumers still want a physical shopping experience.

http://www.businessnewsdaily.com/7756-online-shopping-preferences.html

http://smallbiztrends.com/2014/08/consumers-prefer-shopping-in-a-store.html

There is also an older but more in-depth commentary from the Harvard Business Review on physical vs ecommerce.

In Australia, government studies from only 18 months ago, showed that small and medium enterprises a lagging in this country with their on-line presence and capability. There are obviously still great opportunities in all markets for any business to commence their on-line presence and include on-line trading in one form or another.

So, #1 there is a large percentage of businesses not online who could be, and #2 consumers will make use of both bricks and mortar and virtual stores without exclusion of one over the other.

So the questions that I am trying to answer include: What is the answer (and is that answer singular?) to on-line trading for Australian businesses? What platforms will provide a good solution now and potentially the future? What are the strategies that will work to marry both a shop of bricks and one of ether ?

Particularly I am interested in retail and small end retail, the Mum & Dad store that many years ago was in a strip-centre of a dozen stores or less.

I don’t have answers but I am working on them.

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