Think that e-commerce isn’t for service industries? In this article I will dispel that myth. You can sell services online like physical goods. You need to choose the right way to sell your service online. Let’s look at some of the types of service businesses and how the right e-commerce solution can help them sell online.
When you think of e-commerce you probably think of a store that sells and ships goods online. That is the most common type of e-commerce store, after all. Amazon, Zappos and many more websites fit this model.
The problem with most service businesses is that you are primarily selling time. Selling time online isn’t something that instantly comes to mind. And not all e-commerce solutions can accommodate things like appointments and bookings.
You might think the e-commerce doesn’t suit your business plan. But selling time and services online can be better than starting a store that ships physical goods. After all, you don’t have to hold stock. You don’t have to package and send goods. Dealing with cancelations or returns is much easier. It is a low cost and low risk way to sell online.
Let’s take a look at the business types that can sell services online.
Dentists, hair dressers, massage therapists and personal trainers can all sell their services online using bookings.
Subject matter experts can also sell online. People like tutors or mentors.
You can let your clients make an appointment online and make payment then and there. The business owner can define what times are available and the appointment slots. Customers like booking online too. They can see the available time slots without having to call and talk to a receptionist. Online bookings can save both the business owner and the customer time.
Related to appointments are longer term bookings. If you are a hotel then you can take bookings online through your website. The same model applies to holiday homes.
In fact tourism related industries rely on customers being able to book. Boat cruises, tour guides, day trips are all great examples.
Another service type that can be sold online is repeatable services. A subscription type model can work great for jobs that need to be done on a regular basis.
Lawn care and gardening companies can offer a subscription for their services. Pool valet businesses or rubbish removal are also good examples. You can smooth out your cash flow by encouraging customers to pay through out the year rather than just using your service when needed.
Learning and courses
If you sell access to knowledge or training you can take it one step further and package your expertise into a course. This is a great way to get around selling time and the problem of only having so many hours per day to work. If you can sell a course of your knowledge you can teach many more people than in a one-to-one scenario.
This type of e-commerce solution is a great fit for people like business trainers, fitness / nutritional coaches and tutors. You have to put in more work to create the course, but once it is complete you can sell it to many more people.
Get the right solution that meets your unique needs
As you can see there are many different models of selling online when it comes to service businesses. One of these methods could work for your business. You need to choose the right e-commerce solution that can handle your needs.
Research what those needs are before committing to getting an e-commerce website built. Depending on the e-commerce platform it can be hard to cover all the bases and you don’t want to purchase a system that is in-flexible.
Each businesses needs are unique. Your e-commerce solution should work for you to grow your business. You shouldn’t have to work around its quirks and failings.