For new and small businesses, a local customer base can be the core fuel of success – but what happens when a shop has saturated the local market? Some would say it’s time to add a new service, or launch a new marketing campaign. While these strategies can help revive sales, expanding to e-commerce might be the investment with even greater, long-term returns.
The rise of e-commerce did change the retail landscape tremendously, with messages that brick and mortar merchants were under threat by the online market. But these shops can greatly benefit by adapting to the online avenue for sales, and setting up an e-commerce site has become easier than ever.
If you’re curious about how this move might benefit your business–and how to get started–read on:
You can meet new and existing customers where they are
Even for customers who love your inventory, it can be a challenge to shop brick-and-mortar – whether it’s a lack of time, transportation or simply the weather. Consider more pressing reasons such as illnesses, disabilities or a parent dealing with childcare. There can be unforeseen and long-term obstacles that can get in the way of a customer making a trip to your store.
The ability to buy from your shop online and have it delivered right to their doorstep adds a level of convenience that, for many, may be the difference between buying from you or from someone else. And through email lists and online engagement, you can capture consumer attention the way you would with enticing window displays or sale banners – without relying on foot traffic to bring people to your door.
You can learn more about your audience
An e-commerce site can equip you with effective tools for better understanding your customers and how they shop. Demographics information like where they’re logging in from can give you and understanding of your reach, while data on how they’ve come to your site – from an email link, an ad, your social media profiles or other sources – can give you an idea of what marketing and outreach methods are working for you, and which ones are not.
You’ll find more opportunities for creative marketing campaigns
As you get to know how your audience is interacting with your site and brand, you’ll be better equipped to understand what might best appeal to them or fully convert their site activity to sales. This could include flash sales, strategic discount codes, utilizing common search terms, or even focusing what time of day you’re reaching out.
You can customize the site to suit your brand
Accessing your merchandise through the Internet doesn’t mean that the in-store customer experience disappears. Business owners can utilize a great deal of customization to not only extend their branding to the space, but also the personal experience. That can be through the product photos you post and the descriptions you use – if you like to share your favorite customer use stories when you sell things in-store, you can include that here! If you have employee recommendations or store favorites, you can include that on your site. You can even include blogs and customer experiences as a section of your site.
Many e-commerce platforms plugin to services you may already use, such as those for inventory management and order fulfillment. If an e-commerce site makes sense for you business, don’t let the technological side stop you.
The reality is that your competition is already online. Even if the shop down the street hasn’t set up an e-commerce site, others have, including larger online marketplaces from around the world. And when it comes to getting what they need, many of your potential customers will choose what is most accessible to them. Why not make your business one of those options?
Need help putting your business online? Check out our blog article Get Your Business Online: A Simple Step-By-Step Guide.