Getting Started with E-Commerce
Expanding your brick and mortar store
The ability to shop online has drastically changed the way that people purchase clothing, technology, household goods and even food! Most large retailers have moved into the world of e-commerce to compete with Amazon and other e-commerce giants. But what about small businesses? More and more local brick and mortar stores have been moving online to reach their customers and keep up with the industry. Have you been contemplating making the transition to selling online? There is a lot to consider when jumping into the world of e-commerce, but it’s nothing that your business can’t tackle as long as you are prepared!
Benefits of E-Commerce
Selling your products online has many benefits for your company and your customers. The first, and probably most important, is that you can now reach interested customers regardless of location! No longer do you have to cater solely to potential customers in your immediate area – you can sell to people on the other site of the country! Not only will this help increase your sales, it will also promote your brand across a much wider audience.
An additional benefit is that you are providing customers a new way to interact with your
company and your products. People often research a product online before they buy it to compare different models, colors, brands, etc. You may even find people researching your product on their phone while in your store! Giving people the opportunity to get to know your product before they buy will help them in their decision-making process.
How to Start Selling
1. Have a plan
Like any business venture, you will want to go into this major transition with a plan, otherwise you might find yourself becoming overwhelmed. Contemplate your timeline for moving to an online store, who the main person monitoring it will be, and what your budget looks like for setting it up.
2. Create or add to your website
If you don’t already have a website for your company – make one! If you do have one, there are likely plugins that can be used on your platform to easily give you online Point of Sale (POS) capabilities. For example, we would recommend the plugin WooCommerce for WordPress users.
3. Determine what you want to sell
When you’re contemplating what you want to sell online it’s a good idea to start off small. Listing everything you sell in your physical store probably sounds like a pretty daunting task. Start by listing your best-selling items when you first launch, and then continue adding items from there. This will help you test your online fulfillment capabilities, as well as see what people are interested in buying from you online. You may also want to determine what you truly don’t want to sell online. Maybe you have items that are priced lower than the cost is would take ship them to a customer. If you are planning on offering free shipping, contemplate if it will be worth it to sell those particular items online.
4. Design Your Online Store
You design your physical store layout for the best customer flow, make sure to do the same thing for your virtual store! Take the time to develop the shopping experience for your online store. Decide how you want customers to view your items, what the optimal page layout is to catch people’s eyes, and how many images should go along with each product.
You also need to design your checkout process. You will be able to customize your checkout features based off of the e-commerce plugin you are using. Decide if people need to have a customer account or can check out as a guest, if they can pay with a credit card or will be sent and invoice, and if they need to provide any shipping information.
5. Shipping Capabilities
This will likely be one of the biggest changes for your company to adjust to. Depending on your business, you may have to wait for your online store to be up and running to figure out what shipping service will best accommodate your company’s needs. If you only find yourself sending out a few orders a week you can probably handle the process yourself. However, if the orders coming flooding in, you will likely want to partner with a shipping service.
Additionally, make sure that you have the product supply available to accommodate the number of orders you are getting. If you find yourself unable to ship a product because you are sold out you will want to share that information on your website and keep customers updated. Once you understand the demand from your online store you will be able to forecast how much of your product you need to make or order from your suppliers.
6. Mobile Responsive
Make sure that your e-commerce site works and looks good on people’s phones! We’ve mentioned that people will research a product on their phone even while they are in a physical store, so you will want to make sure that your site looks good! You can’t expect people to only be shopping from their laptop or desktop monitor – be prepared and have a mobile responsive site.
Once you’ve worked through your plan and followed the steps above, you’ll be ready to launch your e-commerce website! Make sure to get the word out by publicly announcing that customers can now shop online. Post on your social media, send a newsletter, hire a skywriter, however you will best reach the people who need to know! If you have any other questions about starting your e-commerce store, or are looking for some help setting it up, feel free to contact us here. We would love to help make your e-commerce dreams a reality!