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Why SMEs Should Embrace E-commerce - Henry Ameleke


Introduction
We are living in an era where the internet is an integral part of our lives. Whether it’s about choosing the right route for your destination, ordering your meal when hungry or doing a research before making purchase for something, the internet has covered it all. There is no denying the fact that we are moving towards a world which will be internet dependent. As an owner of a small offline business this is the right time to take into consideration effects and benefits of taking your business online.
What is E-commerce?
According to the business encyclopedia, ecommerce also known as electronic commerce or internet commerce refers to the buying and selling of goods or services using the internet and the transfer of money and data to execute these transactions.
Ecommerce is often used to refer to the sale of physical products online, but it can also describe any kind of commercial transaction that is facilitated through the internet
The history of ecommerce begins with the first ever online sale: on the August 11, 1994 a man sold a CD by the band sting to his friend through his website NetMarket, an American Retail Platform.
Ghana’s Ecommerce Environment
The ecommerce environment has seen relatively tremendous growth, however there is a lot more opportunities SMEs can tap by moving their businesses online.  There are two segments of Ecommerce businesses operational in Ghana; platforms that are aggregators and individual businesses that have their own custom website and mobile application to showcase and sell their products.  Examples of services and products that are sold online in Ghana include; selling of cloths, food, consumer goods, and financial services.
Benefits of Ecommerce to SMEs
Increase business reach- one of the greatest advantages of ecommerce is that it takes your business to the people where it is not possible to be present physically. By having an online store it is possible to sell from a single location.
Increased business revenue –as your business reach widens, your customer base would increase, which will directly impact your bottom line (direct impact on number of sales and revenue).
Low operational cost – another benefit of having an online store is that you don’t have to build a physical store at all locations where you want to sell your products or services. A single online store will do that for you. This will lower your business operational cost.
Online reputation building – small offline businesses are unable to take advantage of customer appreciation tool which actually help influence new customers because there’s no particular platform where customers can share their appreciation. However, by having an online business presence, customers can share their appreciation via the social media portals of your business. These reviews are available publicly for everyone to see and this helps you influence your new users to get converted to customers.
Timing Flexibility – running your business online allows you to remain open for new orders and your customers 24/7, which is not feasible in case of offline brick stores.
Conclusion
In conclusion, there is no denying that the advantages of ecommerce are diverse and manifold. It saves time and energy, being able to sell products and services to a huge audience all over the world with just a simple mouse click. It is also cost effective compared to other businesses.  However, SME owners must note that booming ecommerce requires intuition, knowledge of your market, a solid business plan and careful research into products and the ecommerce business model.
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