The decision to transition your store from a traditional brick-and-mortar retail business to an eCommerce business isn’t an easy one. The stats are out, retail is a struggling industry but those that can adapt to the changing climate have proven they can weather the storm. By expanding their business models to include eCommerce and building out the online side of their physical stores brands are fighting back against online-only retail giants like Amazon. This strategy can certainly save many of the struggling retail businesses but only if its implemented correctly. Below are some tips to successfully make the transition from brick-and-mortar to eCommerce.
- Selecting an eCommerce Platform
First and foremost you’ll need to manage your website, showcase your products, and be able to accept payments. You’ll need the search engine optimization, marketing, and inventory tools that come with these systems as well. For those with no experience in online selling choosing an all-in-one eCommerce platform will allow you to set up all the necessary tools from one system. For those with more online experience you may want to choose a self-hosted solution. These can offer more customization and scalability but require more technical knowhow. Whichever route you choose to go down you will want to make sure your existing point of sale and accounting systems can be integrated.
- Product Selection and Descriptions
A significant part of running an online business is deciding which of your products to sell online. It is best practice to go through your product catalog and start with your best-selling options. You will want to make sure to keep your in-store inventory manageable while maintaining a solid selection of products on your website. Once you’ve decided which products to sell online developing detailed product descriptions and providing several high-quality images is going to be critical. Unlike with your in-store customers online shoppers won’t be able to see or feel the product.
- Fulfillment and Shipping
You most likely already have vendors you order from frequently to keep your store stocked. With the addition of eCommerce, you’ll need to learn a new part of the business known as fulfillment. Fulfillment is the process of packaging the orders you receive online. Generally, there are two ways eCommerce business go about handling their fulfillment and shipping. The first way is to take on the packaging, handling, and shipping yourself. The second option would be to outsource to a third-party who would warehouse, package, and dropship orders directly to your customers.
- Payment Systems
As with eCommerce platforms there are many options for payment systems. These systems process all of your payments and verifies them during the checkout process helping to minimize fraudulent purchases. It is a good idea to offer your customers multiple options for secure payments and include an option they are already familiar with and trust like PayPal.
- Customer Service and Marketing
Communicating with your existing and potential customers will be key to growing your online business. Implementing a CRM (customer relationship management) tool can help you keep track of their purchasing habits, contact information, and handle inquires or complaints. This information can be used in future marketing campaigns to offer customers a personalized experience.
The world of retail really isn’t collapsing, customers are just spending their money in new ways. Your business can be a part of the continued growth into online shopping with a well-thought out plan. By fully integrating your eCommerce store with your physical location through the steps we’ve described, you’ll be able to provide all your customers with a truly excellent shopping experience no matter where they choose to buy.