eCommerce sales are expected to almost double to more than $6.5 billion by 2023, (according to eMarketer.com). Therefore, it’s pretty apparent that most consumers are doing their shopping online. Does this spell bad news for Brick-and-Mortar retailers? It could, or it could spell opportunity. Instead of cowering before the power of eCommerce, why not embrace it?
Moving your physical store online isn’t as hard as you might imagine. You don’t even have to be particularly technical since there are lots of website creation guides online. There are a lot of affordable and user-friendly solutions for creating an eCommerce store. All you need to do is spend some time figuring out which solution is right for you and then implement it.
Here’s how to do it:
1. Choose an online platform or channel
The first step in moving your business online is to find the right eCommerce platform or channel. The options are:
- A full-fledged eCommerce store
An eCommerce platform lets you build an online store. They vary in difficulty, but several platforms let you start selling with just a few clicks. There are also options for adding a shop to an existing website. These are known as third-party integrations.
- A seller’s account with an online marketplace
Online marketplaces are sites like Amazon and eBay. With this option, getting started is pretty simple. Usually, all you have to do is input your information and upload your products.
- Selling through social media.
Selling through social networks takes a little more setup than selling through an online marketplace. To get started, you’ll have to integrate your social accounts with a third-party solution such as Soldsie or Like2Buy.
2.Create your online store
The key to designing a digital store is consistency. Your customers must have a similar experience online as they do in your brick-and-mortar shop. You’ll want to pay attention to themes and design elements in your physical store that you can translate to your online store. For instance, use the same colors in your digital store as you do in your retail location.
Your customization options are more limited if you have a seller’s profile on an online marketplace. Amazon, for example, lets merchants create seller pages that can be personalized to showcase your merchandise. eBay, on the other hand, has an eCommerce solution that provides merchants with advanced personalization features and marketing tools.
Social networks offer limited customization features. If you choose this option, you’ll want to discuss personalization with your eCommerce solution provider.
3.Design and develop your product pages
Product pages are what make or break purchasing decisions. The main hurdle here is giving your customers the same experience online as they would have in store. Obviously, they can’t touch or feel the product, so you have to convince them solely through sight. This means writing detailed product descriptions, providing attractive product photos, and offering customer reviews. You’ll also want to make sure that your product pages are easy to navigate. Nothing will turn a customer away faster than having to scroll endlessly or not being able to find what they’re looking for quickly.
4. Try and get your physical and online store to work together
Having a physical and an online store is good, but getting these channels to function together is even better. Customers tend to respond well when retailers give them the option of shopping across multiple channels. Therefore, combining your brick-and-mortar-store and your digital store will give your customers a better shopping experience and make them happier.
Here are some ideas for linking your physical and digital store:
- Purchase online and pickup in-store
- Provide ways for customers to see online inventory while in the physical store.
- Have customers sign up to receive updates when new inventory arrives in store
- Use location-based media to deliver a mobile ad when a potential customer is near your physical store
5. Evaluate your store’s performance and make revisions
Once you’ve moved your physical store online, the next step is to ensure its performing well. To do this, you’ll want to look at metrics like sales and conversion rates. These numbers will allow you to analyze your store’s performance so you can act accordingly.
The analytics you can look at will depend on which selling platform or channel you’re using. Google Analytics is a great tool to use for an eCommerce site. It will give you access to a bunch of numbers that will illustrate how your site is performing. With an online or social marketplace, your access to metrics will be more limited. You’ll have to look at your sales numbers, and the number of visitors your pages receive versus the total number of purchases (aka the conversion rate).