Let’s face it; we live in a tech world now. While going to a brick and mortar store is part of the shopping experience, a lot of consumers now prefer the ease of shopping online. Because of these types of emerging consumer behaviors, not having an online presence can be detrimental to business.
A recent presentation showed that over 50% of Millennial shoppers prefer using a smartphone over any other method to make purchases. And it’s not just young people. With most of the population owning smartphones, companies should be investing in their online shopping experience.
You can transition your whole business over to bricks and clicks(e-commerce) from brick and mortar. It’s possible but difficult. It could be better, though, to keep your physical location while you open an online store. Consumers (Millennials, especially) like to think before they purchase. They may visit the brick and mortar store, go home, and then really want to still buy that shirt or dress they saw. That’s where the e-commerce store comes into play. If you have an online store, you can capture that business.
Let’s look at how to get prepared to take your brick and mortar to brick and click.
Tips for Brick & Mortars Transitioning to Bricks and clicks:
Identify your online customer.
Before you sell online, you have to figure out who is most likely to look for your products online. For the most part, your typical e-commerce customer will likely be younger and more tech-savvy than the person who would prefer to go to your brick and mortar store. Take a minute and think about who this person might be. When looking into your ideal customer, you want to know what they like to see when they shop online. Are they looking for social media sharing, deals, and online coupons, or advice along with their products? Knowing the answer to these questions will help keep customers on your e-commerce site and keep them coming back for more at the same time.
Decide on how to provide customer service.
One thing that customers like about brick and mortar stores is that they have built-in customer service. There’s a person they can call or a location that they can drive to, immediately, to handle their issues. When your brand transfers to an online platform, quality service has to transfer as well. You will quickly have to decide how you want to handle complaints, returns, and exchanges. You will also have to decide if you want to offer assistance to your customers online. Letting them leave comments on social media isn’t enough! To give your customers the same in-store experience, you can offer them anything from a helpline they can call to a live chat service.
Pick which products you want to sell online.
You may be tempted to rush in and list everything in your inventory in an online store, but remember that you don’t. Not every product photographs well or ships well, and it can be complicated to sell online with a shop full of products. While you don’t want people missing out on their favorite items, if someone wants that one coffee mug, then they can call customer service and make a special request. When you’re selecting products to add to your e-commerce shop, ideally they should be the easiest to photograph and the easiest to ship. Things that are lightweight, one size fits all, or limited sizing is the best to start off with. It is absolutely okay to start out with a very limited product line on your website, it’s also okay to offer things on your website that aren’t actually offered in the store. This way your customers feel special because they’re getting an exclusive deal. Dropshipping is also an option if you want to sell custom products without keeping inventory.
Create your website and e-commerce store.
Last, it’s time to create your website. Some people want to jump here, first, but that’s the wrong strategy. Buying your website is sort of like buying your store– there’s no point in getting it if you haven’t made the other hard decisions first.
There are so many options for having an e-commerce website, everything from using an online selling platform like Etsy, Amazon, or Shopify to buying your own domain and setting up shop independently. Both options have their benefits. For one, if you are a smaller brick and mortar, it may be a more affordable option to have a place online like Amazon where people can organically stumble across your shop.
However, that limits your ability to grow. It is better, in the long run, to independently set up a domain and host to create an online presence. With a top-notch website under your domain name and an actionable digital marketing strategy, you can find success as a brick and mortar and a brick and click store.
Your business becomes future-proof with an online store because you’re diversifying your income streams.
When you open an e-commerce store, you’re protecting your business against those fluctuations that happen in the brick and mortar economy. When you have online sales, you can relax a little about your physical sales, and vice versa. It may also seem like all the sales tracking software you’re using now like CRM or EDI won’t transfer to an online sales environment, but that’s simply not true. A high-quality internet marketing company can help you set up your online store, integrate your sales software, create a digital marketing strategy, and help you transition from brick and mortar to e-commerce.
Justin Baynton is a digital marketing thought leader and industry innovator. He has successfully led digital strategy and implementation for many large enterprise organizations. Justin is a board member for AXO Digital and is writing this on their behalf. AXO Digital is an internet marketing company with deep experience in all digital marketing services.