The demand for the creation of e-shops by small businesses increased tenfold after the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic and the quarantine, as Yannis Karalis, CEO of "NetSteps SA", a company developing e-commerce and digital marketing projects, says in an interview with APE-MPE, transferring his experience.
However, he adds, small entrepreneurs are often unaware that it is not enough to create an Internet site to sell, but that it requires significant expenditure on marketing and other processes so that ... "you don't get eaten by sharks".
In other words, small entrepreneurs often have no idea what it takes to succeed in e-commerce, they have not understood the size of the investment required and, because they are not familiar with the subject, they do not understand that you cannot sell by building an eShop at a very low cost, in the order of 500 euros.
"It needs to be understood that the concept of "ebusiness" is not the same as "make an eShop" and that "make me an eShop" is not the same as "make me a website". An eShop built at low cost cannot work properly - there are issues of security, functionality, speed, user experience.
In order for an eShop to succeed, it requires continuous development, so that it can be constantly improved to meet the needs of its customers. E-commerce has now progressed too far, consumers visit many high end e-shops and are now very demanding. An e-store means specific procedures, customer service, quality photos, marketing and advertising, and compliance with the relevant legislation," he explains.
For small entrepreneurs, who cannot afford to invest the required money in an eShop - which often reaches several tens of thousands of euros, including marketing and advertising costs - he suggests as a safer solution the registration in marketplaces (online marketplaces/platforms), such as skroutz.gr or amazon.com. This way, he says, they can more safely create an image in the digital world by uploading some of their products on these platforms.
"The cost of investing in e-commerce will keep going up and I think that in the end only high-end e-shops will survive and small businesses will be able to sell their products through marketplaces," he says.
Evaluating potential partners
If someone can invest the money required to create a "proper" eShop, how confident can they feel that their investment will pay off?
"Of course, in any investment there is always the risk of failure. However, what I fear most is a failure, not due to lack of money or other factors, but due to choosing the wrong partners.
One can invest in an eshop, but fail because of bad partnerships. So I think it is very important for every interested party to evaluate their partners very carefully. Ensure that the expertise is there, ask for information about what the company with which he wants to work has achieved, who are its customers, whether it has received awards, and also that there is chemistry between the entrepreneur and the company that will develop his eShop," he says.
He adds that there has been an increase - after the pandemic outbreak - in calls to NetSteps from major retail players who are interested in expanding their online capabilities. "We have seen a doubling of requests from our large customers who want to invest money in expanding their existing eShops and in the more dynamic transition from the offline to the online world," notes Yannis Karalis and estimates that the size of physical store chains will probably shrink and the online presence will increase.
Compared to the corresponding months of 2019, e-shop traffic in March was up by 152%, in April by 289% and in May by 108%. Orders increased by 126% (March), 461% (April) and 124% (May) respectively and turnover increased by 210%, 516% and 121% in the three months.
From the beginning of the summer the situation started to balance out with lower turnover growth rates (by 20% in June and 66% in July)" he explains and adds that an additional innovation of the company was that during Holy Week, when some courier companies were "blocked" due to Easter, the family members decided to deliver their products themselves in Athens and Thessaloniki, using their own means...
Shopping with video call and quarantine party
On the occasion of the lockdown, says Cyrus Vogiatzoglou, many understood that "the online is not on the side. In fact, through eShops, innovations such as live shopping (shopping by video call) emerged, something our client company started to do within the quarantine or on-line parties, by sending the birthday boy or girl a surprise box, which was opened in front of friends and relatives at a party via videoconference.
We've all become more inventive in general and there is certainly a lot of movement for new eShops, but we all have to keep in mind that e-commerce is not that simple, you don't just open a store and it sells," says Cyrus, noting that on the one hand you have to work hard to succeed and on the other hand you have to find the right balance, whether it's managing the warehouse/store, alternative forms of communication, or even the delicate manipulations needed in advertising.
"We had to comb through everything. How do you advertise bikes or skates, which you usually advertise in the spring when there are traffic restrictions? How to advertise a company that sells party supplies when large gatherings of people are banned?" describes Cyrus Voyatzoglou.
Opening a shop in the ...middle of the Pacific
In some e-shops we saw an increase in traffic by 600%-800% within a few days", says Panos Voulgaris.
Asked how he sees the market evolving from now on, he notes that the changes are related to two different pillars:
One is the consumers, who during the lockdown became familiar with online shopping on demand and it is not excluded that they will maintain their new consumption habits.
The second is the traders themselves. Some were already ready before to move into the e-commerce era and others were left behind, not realizing that a physical store is not enough.
Now everyone has made moves. The question, he says, is whether these are panic moves or choices that are lasting and organized with a plan.
"When you open an e-shop it's like opening a store in the middle of the Pacific. It exists, but no one knows it exists unless you make it known. So, it's not enough to create it, you need to make all the right moves," concludes Panos Voulgaris.
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Every company that is supported by EPIDOSIS in accounting and tax matters is covered in all areas of the business spectrum. Starting from legal and translation support, continuing with the search for inclusion in subsidized programs and funding to strategic promotion and business development support of the company.
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- Personalised tax planning
Accounting planning and control are necessary to avoid tax risks and to obtain the maximum possible benefit within the framework of each country's legislation. Correct tax planning shields your entire business, taking into account the needs and the particular challenges it faces in the environment in which it operates.
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EPIDOSIS provides you with Tax and Accounting Support services and a comprehensive tax planning that will embrace every aspect of your business. At the same time we are able to support every businessman in opening current bank accounts in Greek and foreign banks.
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Development of alternative forms of companies e-shop
Today, more than ever, the European Union economy can offer a range of options with significant advantages for developing a flexible and competitive e-business, breaking down economic barriers and overcoming the "barriers" of a local company. As an indication, see below the alternatives that can arise within the countries of the united Europe:
I. Drop shipping: the new trend of e-shops
Its main advantage is that it almost eliminates the required start-up capital, as it relieves the e-shop from the need to pre-purchase (stock) and store products. The whole process has elements in common with triangular transactions as we know them. The e-shop receives the order from the customer from whom it collects the retail value, pays the wholesale value to the wholesaler and the wholesaler ships the product directly to the end customer.
II. Incorporation - Establishment of a company in Bulgaria, Cyprus or Poland
Within a few days you can obtain a VAT number and corporate current bank accounts, while full activation will be completed in 10-15 working days. At the same time, your company will be registered in the VIES system and will obtain a European VAT number and an EORI customs number for international transactions with third countries.
III. Foreign branch located in another European country
Establishing a branch in Greece is an extremely simple and short procedure, in order to achieve all the tax facilities offered by the system of the specific European countries without interrupting your business activity in Greece.
IV. ready made companies (RMCs)
RMCs are readily available companies with a VAT number, fully integrated in the VIES system. They enable you to obtain a ready-made company, with full tax and insurance information and all the necessary certificates in just one day.
This post is purely informative and does not form part of any specialist advice. If you would like to learn more about the flexible forms of setting up an online store you can contact the experienced EPIDOSIS team directly at 2310 477725 or fill in the contact form HERE to make a free appointment and discuss Personalized Tax Planning and the development of your business.