This may be the year when you decide to take your retail store online. After all, more than half of Americans would rather shop online than in physical stores. In fact, millennials and people from generation-Z spend up to six hours shopping online.
An ecommerce store is only limited by its choice of shipping locations, putting it in a great position to take its brand to a whole new audience anywhere in the world. If you are an established brick-and-mortar retailer, you should consider taking advantage of this new opportunity. We’ve compiled a few tips to help you expand your current brick-n-mortar business model to include a successful ecommerce extension.
1. The business plan
Would you open a brick and mortar business without a business plan? A business plan for an online business should include the approach that will be used for financing, marketing, and advertising of the business. It should also establish a clear idea of how it will reach success.
2. Your fulfillment process
When orders start coming in, you may start out by dropping parcels off at the nearest post office. However, as your ecommerce venture gains momentum, it may make more sense to arrange for a courier to come by at regular intervals to pick those packages up at your physical location. Shipping charges are another consideration. Free shipping will attract their interest, however you need to decide if your business can afford to absorb the shipping cost. In store pick-up is becoming more popular and often generates add-on sales. It also saves you the cost of shipping!
3. Advertising your ecommerce offerings
Paid advertising on social media platforms, like Facebook, and search engines, such as Google, is a generally low-cost option that helps drive buyers to your site. Google offers pay-per-click advertising where you’ll only be charged if a visitor clicks on the link to your site. Facebook offers you the option of paying for either impressions or clicks. In the case of impressions, you’ll be billed based on the number of times your ad shows up in the feed of your target audience. You’ll also be able to track your best converting keywords and use these in blog posts to ensure organic discoverability, which is the best kind for reaching new customers.
4. Inspire trust
A friendly website layout with clear product images and an easy checkout process with trust badges from external safety accreditors like McAffee or Paypal will assure customers that it’s safe to shop on your site.
5. Make it mobile
The trend toward shopping via smartphones is continuing to climb. That means mobile sites not only need to work with desktop versions, they also need to be able to stand on their own. Despite the fact that smartphones and tablets account for nearly 60% of all ecommerce traffic, desktops still dominate actual sales transactions. Since people are still wary about making purchases on mobile devices, put them at ease by including appropriate text and logos in the mobile checkout. Your goal: Simplify mobile shopping!
6. Choose the products you will sell based on your niche market
Understanding your customers and what they want is key to success in retail. To be truly competitive, find your niche and stand out to the most important consumers. Even though this may narrow your primary target audience, loyal customers tend to recommend a business via word of mouth advertising to friends and family, thus, building a broader network of new customers for you. And, all without you doing more than providing good products and services!
7. Provide more options to buy and more ways to pay
By combining both physical and online stores you’re giving the customer multiple ways to address their buying preferences. They can choose to
- Buy online and pick up at the physical store
- Buy online and get it delivered to their door
- View a product online and buy online
- View in the store and buy online
8. Choose a reputable ecommerce provider:
It is most important that you take the time to find an experienced ecommerce provider that you feel comfortable with and can rely on when an issue arises. Their team of experts will help you choose a domain name, recommend hosting, help you select a theme, build your site, manage a timeline and outline tasks, work with your staff, test and launch your site, and provide ongoing technical support.
9. Develop your ecommerce marketing and advertising strategies
Once your business has been established, the site is up and running, and your products are ready for sale, you are ready for the official launch! Next you have some hard work to do on your ecommerce marketing and advertising strategies to grow your base of loyal customers.
10. Bridging the gap between brick-and-mortar and online stores
Having both a brick-and-mortar and online store is good, but making those channels work together is even better. Modern customers love it when retailers allow them to shop across multiple channels, so linking your physical and digital stores will result in better shopping experiences and happier customers. Reach out to your ecommerce provider and POS business partner for the best approach to this solution.
11. Maintaining the business
Going forward, you and your staff will need to continue to monitor the site for any problems, manage the inventory, and make decisions about new and discontinued products, all while providing excellent customer service that will keep your customers coming back for more!