If the pandemic proved anything to us, it’s that a business that can be run online is always going to have its place in the world. As more consumers embrace convenience, opening an online store to enable loyal customers to complete their shopping from the comfort of home is becoming essential writes Yoko Inoue, founder of Shoku Iku.
Here are five steps to help you make the switch from brick and mortar store to online.
1. Communicate with your customers
Communication is key, whether you communicate with your customers about product specials, new arrivals, industry news and trends, or insight into your own workspace and business news. Customers love to feel like they’re getting insider news. As you can imagine, sharing big news, like a new online store, is very important. You want to invite as much traffic to your site as possible. You also want to entice people to stay on your site for as long as possible (because this will help your site to perform better on Google and other search engines).
To attract attention to my new online store, I started to talk more about products that customers can buy online on social media as well as in-person when they came into the shop. It is an organic transition as I love educating about the products.
2. Build your e-shop
There are many fantastic platforms that simplify the building, managing, and marketing of an online store. The most reputable include Shopify, Big Commerce, Weebly, Squarespace, and Wix. Each offers a unique set of features, some are designed to grow with your business while others are best for a brand that intends to stay small. Most of these sites offer an easy drag-and-drop approach to building your store. However, to unlock the full benefits of their functionality, it’s a great idea to bring in a web developer.
3. Manage your inventory
There are many great systems to help online stores manage their inventory. You will first need to decide if you are going to store inventory on-site or utilise a warehouse. If you keep inventory on-site, how will you keep track of it and manage your orders? You also need to consider a system that helps with calculating the cost of selling an item (over and above the cost of acquiring it). Online stores like Shopify enable you to manage your inventory yourself from the backend of your site. For management order fulfillments, look at sites such as Shipwire or Webgistix.
4. Establish your shipping methods and T&Cs
Your shipping methods (or delivery methods) should also contain your T&Cs. This protects your business if you clearly state your conditions and request that customers sign an agreement before placing their orders. For example, if you sell fresh produce, you will need to work within a geographical area to enable same-day fresh deliveries. While you can extend this service, customers in outlying areas must agree that the store is not liable for the freshness or quality of the prince delivered. Liaise with companies that offer delivery and ask what they recommend, since they will have the experience. It is important to clearly communicate to your customers what you can and can’t offer.
5. Start advertising
The good news about having an online storefront is that marketing becomes far more precise and targeted. You can measure the efficacy of your campaigns and see exactly how strong your sales pipeline is. This enables you to allocate more budget to the campaigns that yield stronger results, thickening your conversion rates and improving your overall revenue generation. Digital marketing is highly involved and sophisticated, if you feel intimidated that’s completely normal. Write down your immediate goals for your business, prioritising what matters most to you – visibility, sales, brand awareness, or online reputation – and consult with a marketing expert to help you create a strategy that you can DIY (if budget holds you back).