Making eCommerce Work For Brick & Mortar Businesses

If you have a business of your own, the odds are that you’ve already seen the value of establishing a positive online presence. If your main concern is attracting local customers and serving them face to face, though, you might not see the point in expanding your online efforts to include eCommerce. Turning your back on this sales channel is often a mistake, though — even if you’re not in the retail business.

Examples Of Blended Online & Real-World Commerce

As you’re probably aware, there are plenty of major retailers that sell both online and in the real world. This is common with major chains and big-box stores across every market segment. Mass-market giants like Target and WalMart have enormous online stores that sell the same vast range of products as their physical locations. Most blended retailers even allow customers to shift their transactions from one realm to the other, completing purchases online and then picking up merchandise from the physical store.

Bear in mind that a mix of online and physical retail selling is common with upscale brands, too. Higher-class retailers like Macy’s follow the same mixed strategy as the bargain companies, and even couture fashion labels have extensive online stores. In fact, this has been an excellent way for premium brands with limited physical locations to serve a worldwide customer base.

How An Online Store Helps Boost Your Physical Sales

You don’t need a global brand to derive considerable benefits from taking your brick and mortar business into the world of eCommerce. As you probably already know, the Internet now plays a vital role in the decision-making process of a vast majority of consumers. That makes it important for your business to have a visible and positive online presence, even if you still get most of your revenue from face to face deals.

An online store is a terrific way to boost your visibility on the Internet. If you dedicate yourself to doing it properly, a busy store with plenty of changes (new stock, sales, etc.) will give you lots of content to use in your marketing campaigns. News about your online store also gives you a great excuse to reach out to your customers — both the online ones and the ones that patronize your physical store.

All of this online activity will turn your business into a shining beacon on the Internet. If it was previously a flickering candle, that means you’ll suddenly find yourself pulling in a lot of new customers who would otherwise overlook you — or worse, do business with your local competitors because they had a stronger online presence.

Resources Required For Online Selling

Take a moment to review the physical resources you need to start up on online store. If you’re a retailer, you’ve already got products and warehousing covered. Selling on the Internet means you need a fairly robust shipping department, especially if you anticipate a high volume of online sales. Plan accordingly if your eCommerce site proves to be a hit; you may need to hire additional workers or even expand to accommodate the increased shipping and storage needs.

Don’t assume that an online store isn’t an option if your line of work is slanted towards providing a service rather than selling a product. The odds are very good that no matter what your industry, there are associated products that are thematically suited to your business. Dentists sell oral hygiene supplies online, for instance, and many cosmetic surgery clinics have eCommerce sites that sell beauty products.

You don’t need to add a warehouse and a shipping department to your business to start a major online store, either. If buying wholesale products, storing, and selling them isn’t already in your wheelhouse you can outsource the entire affair. This process is called drop shipping, and there are plenty of outstanding companies that can offer you affordable rates on this service.

Setting Up An eCommerce Outlet

While the full details of starting up on online store fall outside the scope of this discussion, you’ll probably want to think about the costs involved when you’re deciding whether or not to build an online store. These costs are minimal for a very basic store, and there are a lot of pre-arranged packages out there that minimize the amount of technical expertise you’ll need to get started. A basic eCommerce outlet assembled out of alacarte components is perfectly serviceable if your main goal is to improve your visibility and supplement your physical business.

If you intend to shift towards deriving a significant portion of your revenue from online sales, though, you’ll need more robust solutions. More than the expense of buying hardware, software, and server space, you should be thinking of your expertise requirements. Running a thriving online store will require the services of some dedicated specialists, including web designers, programmers, and eCommerce experts. Remember that an online marketing specialist is also a good hire.
An online store can deliver a lot of value to any sort of business, and that value goes well beyond increased sales. If you haven’t considered the possibility of selling online before, there’s no time like the present to explore your options.