E-commerce is a powerful tool for your business. It’s a great way to reach customers overseas, make products visible to self-directed consumer researchers, even transform a small organization into a global contender. But are you making the most of your e-commerce potential?

Make the Impossible Seem Routine: Open an Account graphicIf your company is counting on third-party digital catalogs for its e-commerce sales, you may be missing out on some of the more promising advantages of online retail. Your reasons for not building out your own online storefront are understandable. Maybe you’re worried about what an offering would cost. Perhaps you don’t have the right mix of skill sets in-house. Or, you could actually be satisfied with your current sales through a third-party marketplace and are unsure of what your own dedicated e-commerce strategy could add.

It’s time to put aside those doubts and worries and take a hard look at the advantages of running your own dedicated e-commerce storefront. Whether you’re marketing across borders or your sales are strictly domestic, having an online sales channel can empower your company—so it’s worth investigating.

Take Control of Your Brand

One of the most compelling reasons to open your own e-commerce channel is value added branding. While it’s true that online marketplaces can sell your goods, and they’re often excellent channels through which to enter new markets, your own storefront is a unique value proposition.

Your company’s online presence, including its storefront, tells customers a great deal about your brand, your corporate values, your unique products, even your approach to customer service including shipping, returns, and refunds. All of these traits are evident when you create a dedicated e-commerce storefront, however they can disappear when you only work with third-party stores or marketplaces.

Control over features such as user experience and site navigation are one major advantage to running your own e-commerce channel, provided you’re able to raise the standards to meet shopper expectations. Marketing expert Neil Patel emphasizes the value of features such as informative, clear, landing pages and mobile accessibility. If your site is intuitive for both desktop and smart device browsers, you’ll be well- positioned to make a great impression on consumers around the world.

Ensure Visibility

Another major reason to stake out your own space online is to make sure your brand is easy to find. When today’s consumers decide to look for a product, they conduct research through a search engine and the top results are hugely influential on what they buy. A properly optimized e-commerce website, localized for your target markets and designed with search engine visibility in mind, is a beacon that shows potential buyers where and who you are.

Browsing today is more objectively-based and self-directed than ever before, and taking advantage of search engine visibility could mean being discovered by potential customers who may not even know you exist… yet. There are dozens of e-commerce channels in obscure product categories today. If your company doesn’t appear among the top results for key inquiries from your target market, you’re missing out on promising new business opportunities.

Crossing borders into new territories remains one of the greatest promises of the Internet. In the early days of the web, we all marveled at the way websites could take ideas and information around the world. With that said, your international reach can be limited if you don’t create and optimize your own website.

Selling online, across borders, is a step you can take even if your company is in the service sector or has a strong local attachment. The Digital Marketing Institute suggests that secondary product lines tied to your service offerings could take your company around the world. However, this amazing brand opportunity is contingent on your website infrastructure being able to support the additional demand.

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Establish a Logistics Strategy

Taking advantage of e-commerce with a compelling brand position and advanced search engine optimization can profoundly affect and attract business, but you need to be able to follow through once prospects start converting. This is where a partnership with DHL becomes a major boost for your e-commerce offerings. From delivery and logistics to international expansion and in-depth consulting, you can transform your business in the ways that matter.

Operating an online store is a powerful way to establish your company’s brand, become visible at home and abroad, and ensure that the experience of buying from your company matches your core values. It’s easy to see the potential returns, and equally plain to see how an unprepared business could fall short of the mark, disappoint its customers, and fail to recoup positive returns. To avoid those pitfalls, you need to make sure your e-commerce site has industry expertise behind it.

A company without its own e-commerce channel is missing a fundamental piece of its operations: a channel for reaching, impressing and retaining customers. Not having an online store today is like opening a brick-and-mortar store with no sign on the building. You need to tell the world who you are and what you offer; DHL can help you get the message across. Take this short website health assessment to evaluate and address any gaps your website may have in order to fully capitalize on the benefits of your e-commerce channel.