September 21st, 2018

Business Beat: Six steps to moving your retail business online

By Medicine Hat News on November 8, 2017.

Christmas is coming! Forty-nine days, and counting.

According to market research expert Forrester, Canadians will spend up to $39 billion in online purchases by 2019. Disruptive innovation and the introduction of sophisticated e-commerce options are changing the way we shop and how we buy products and services.

Improvements in technology and advanced payment tools, have led to a more sophisticated and robust e-commerce industry.

Online retail has become a “cash cow” for some. In just four years, an e-commerce start-up that sells a subscription service for men’s razors built a powerful brand. The company’s founder, Michael Dubin hit the jackpot when Unilever purchased his brand for $1 billion in 2016.

The market share of online retailers continues to climb. According to IBISWorld, currently holds 29.4 per cent of market share in an industry that has growing revenue potential and will continue to post strong gains over the next five years. While competition in the e-commerce market is high, there is still room for retailers to get into the game and participate in e-commerce opportunities to grow their business. With greater competition, there is an increased need to ensure businesses have the right combination of resources and tools to get into that market and succeed.

Here are some of the important considerations in migrating your retail business into an e-commerce market.

1. Investigate existing e-commerce platforms that develop tools and resources for retailers who wish to create an online store.

2. Select an excellent web developer who will ensure the highest security is available to those who access your site to make online purchases with either a credit card, or funds transfer services.

3. Invest in the best marketing and design services. Your website should be appealing and user-friendly. Invest in excellent design, clear content and high-quality videos and photography.

4. Ensure your website is accessible on both desktop and mobile devices and that it is easy to navigate. Run through tests to see how the website looks using various desktop and mobile devices.

5. Be sure to follow proper reporting, tax charges on sales and remittance requirements if your website is generating income. Details can be located at

6. Research the industry to see how you can measure up to compete against the big players. Community Futures Entre-Corp can send you comprehensive market research to help you understand more about the e-commerce sector.

Contact us today to access support for your small business. Our team can be reached at 403-528-2824 between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., Monday to Friday.

Elizabeth Blair is the regional innovation network coordinator for APEX. APEX supports the growth of innovative and technologically-oriented businesses in Southeast Alberta. APEX is a collaborative initiative between three core service providers: Community Futures Entre-Corp, Medicine Hat College and Alberta Innovates.

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