The online and offline worlds have merged and for most brick and mortar retailers, if you’re not selling online yet, you’ve fallen behind the times. More importantly, you’re missing out on sales, profit and many opportunities to reach more people. People will only drive so far to buy something they want but they’ll gladly wait a day or two if they can order it online and have the item come right to them. Those are the customers you’re missing out on by staying off the web.
Brick and mortar stores have their place and likely, they always will, even as times change. However, the space for online selling is only continuing to expand. In other words, if you’ve been thinking of taking your store online, you should and now is the time to do it.
But how do you begin? The good news is, your business is already established. You know your products. You know what’s worked and what hasn’t in your store. You also know the kinds of customers you attract. You have a huge advantage when you compare yourself to anyone opening an ecommerce store for the first time. The truth is, fundamentally, you already know what you’re doing. You just need to transfer that knowledge and experience to a new format. So, this article will cover the key things to keep in mind if you’re ready to take your business online.
1. Figure out what products you’re going to sell. Think about shipping.
Now you’re probably thinking, “All of them.” But that might not be the way to go. In fact, it’s probably best to start small and continue to add more and more products or categories to your online store as you get a feel for what works online and what you can handle. So to start, as you review your inventory, consider any shipping complications for each item – weight, fragility, time-sensitivity, etc. If something would be difficult or very expensive to ship, it might be best to leave it off your list.
2. Write product descriptions and take photos.
Once you have your list, your next step is going to be getting started on product descriptions. Remember, in a store, people can see and touch your products. Online, customers can only rely on photos, videos, reviews or descriptions. The more you can show and tell about your products online, the more likely you are to sell them. This part can be time consuming but it might be one of the most valuable things you can do to prepare for your online store.
For the images, you might be able to get some high quality images from the product manufacturers. But if that is not possible, it’s worth investing in a good camera or a professional photographer. The better your products look, the better they’ll sell. The more images you can provide, the better. Show your products from all angles so anyone relying on photos will know exactly what to expect.
3. Consult with an expert. Have your questions ready.
It’s true that there are “free” and do-it-yourself website tools out there. However, these tools often lead to missed steps and missed opportunities. They’re not bad products but they offer a cookie-cutter approach that often leads to running two separate businesses. If you have an offline store and an online store, the best thing you can do is integrate them so they run together seamlessly. So it’s best to talk to a real person who knows the steps you need to take to launch a successful online business that’s connected to your brick and mortar store. ioVista has been helping retailers take their stores online for more than a decade. Give us a call or send us an email and we’ll be happy to help you get started.
Questions to consider asking:
- How do you integrate your inventory control system?
- How do you integrate your accounting/PoS system?
- How do you automate responses?
- How do you keep your customer’s information secure online?
- What forms of payment can you accept?
- How do you implement shipping costs into your shopping cart?
- What kind of marketing should you do online? Social, paid ads, email?
- How will people find your store online/how do you get online customers?
- What eCommerce platform is best for your business?
- Will your website work on mobile devices (very important)?
- How will your online store match your brand/retail store?
4. Get started.
There’s no time like the present. If you feel reluctant over the cost, that’s normal for any business owner. But the fact is, you stand to make more money in the long run if you go online and the monthly costs of an online store are far less than your retail location.
If you feel reluctant because you’re unsure of the online world, that shouldn’t stop you either. It can seem complicated but it’s really not and you’re already an expert on your business. You’ll have your online store figured out in no time! Especially if you hire an expert to help you navigate all the twists and turns before your launch.
So think about what products you want to sell and give us a call! We’ll help you get your store up and running and you’ll wonder why you didn’t do this sooner.